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Organised Crimes in India

Criminal - Politician Nexus:

The base of organized crime is provided by the deadly combination of criminals and politicians. Criminals themselves take up the role of politicians is not an altogether unusual phenomenon.
One area were such an nexus is most dangerous and quite prevalent is the one relating to the elections to parliament, state assembles and local bodies.

Ill – gotten money is pumped into the elections and booth-capturing and rigging by the mafia are quite common.

In the Panchayat election held in 1994, out of 75,000 Gram panchayats more than 50% of candidates were reported to have had criminal history.

In 1993, the Govt of India appointed a committee under a chairmanship of N.N. Vohra, cabinet secretary, “to take stock of all available information about the criminal syndicates / mafia organizations which has developed links with and were being protected by govt., and political personalities”.

This was apparently done in the aftermath in the serial Mumbai bomb blast occurring shortly after the demolition of Babur Mosque in Ayodhya, for which certain Dons of the underworld, both within and outside India were believed to be responsible.

The committee examined the reports of the secretary, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) , CBI and Intelligence Bureau (IB) for an appraisal of the situation and to suggest various measures to curb the joint criminality of the mafia, politicians and bureaucrats. Though the submissions of the directors of the RAW, CBI and IB did not bring out anything not known earlier or any tangible specific solutions were offered, the official committee at least acknowledged the existence of an nexus between the dons of the criminal world and the politicians.

The nexus between the criminal gangs, the police, the bureaucracy and politicians has become evident in various parts of the countries. The existing criminal justice system, which was essentially designed to deal with Individual offences/ crimes is unable to deal with the activities of the mafia. The provision of the law in regarded to the economic offenses are weak; there are insurmountable legal difficulties in attaching the property acquired through mafia activities.

The director of IB noted the “warning signals of sinister linkage between the underworld politicians and bureaucracy” and recommended immediate attention to:
  1. Identification of the nexus between the criminals /mafias and anti-national elements on the other hand and burucrats , politicians and other sensitively – located individuals on the other.
  2. Identification of the nature and dimensions of these linkages and the modus of the operandi of their operations.
  3. Assessment of the impact of these linkages on various institutions, viz., the electoral, political, economic, law and order and administrative apparatus.
  4. Nexus, if any, between the domestic linkage with foreign intelligence.
  5. Necessary action to show effective action to counteract or/ neutralize the mafia activities.
  6. Political and legal constraints in dealing with the illegal functioning of the linkages.

Characteristics of Organized Crime:

  1. In organized crime there is a group of persons of considerable size which engage themselves in continuous crimes over a long, usually indefinite period.
     
  2. It tends to dominate, through political cloud or corruption, the law enforcement agencies.
     
  3. The organization is generally highly centralized; The authority is vested in one or just a few members of the group.
     
  4. Functioning of the mafia in the US has been linked to the working of corporations and big business houses. There is division of labor, delegation of duties and responsibilities and the specialization of functions. Like any modern business, organized crimes also involved careful planning, risk insurance and have expansive and monopolistic tendencies.
     
  5. Criminal organizations adopt measures to protect the group and to guard against the prevention of their activities. To this end, arrangements are made with doctors, lawyers, policemen, judges, politicians and government officials.

Types Of Organized Crimes:

Organized crimes is generally classified into following four major types:
  1. Organized gang criminality:

    • Bank robbery, hijacking, murder, kidnapping, automobile and jewel thefts are some of the common examples.
    • India too as witnessed the organized gang criminality during last few years, particularly murders and kidnapping for ransom.
    • Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, especially the later are the two states which are conspicuous in this regard. Dhanbad, the major coal-mining area, and west Champaran are the two prominent places as regards the mafia operates in Bihar.
    • Gangsters Act by the UP Govt., in 1986 to meet the challenge of the mafia in the state was passed.
    • A study of its (Gangsters act) implementation in 15 districts reveals that so far not even a single person as been convicted although 1,000 of persons were booked under the Act. In 80% of the cases even a charge could not be framed in the court. Where the charges were framed, the acquittal rate has been 100%.
       
  2. Racketeering:

    • Extorting money from legitimate or illegitimate business amounts to what is known as Racketeering.
    • Illegal business like prostitution, gambling and drug trafficking are especially vulnerable to racketeering since they can’t approach the police and other authorities for protection.
    • In fact, money is demanded and paid as consideration for the “protection” given by a criminal group to the operation of the illegitimate business.
    • Labor and trade unions provide extremely useful channels for the rocketeers to accomplish their objectives. By capturing the unions organized criminals are in a position to exploit both employers and employees in business and industry; Unions providing the criminal leverage and façade to mafia leaders.
    • Construction work through contracts is another area where organized criminals have taken their shares by employing political clout and muscle power.
       
  3. Syndicate Crime:

    • This is the most significant area of organized crime and consist of the supply of illegal goods and services; smuggling, bootlegging, gambling, prostitution and foreign exchange violations are examples of such crimes.
    • There are frontmen at various levels executing the work assigned to them.
    • The “Bosses” generally function behind scenes from their well-appointed head quarters and that makes them somewhat immune from the enforcement authorities.
    • The worst aspect of the problem is that the money generated through illegal means in invested in legitimate business enterprises.
       
  4. Smuggling:

    • It is highly prevalent criminal activity in developing countries like India where the official position is to encourage local products and industries and to conserve maximum foreign exchange.
    • Smuggling is the direct result of the import and export policy of the govt., of a country.
    • India has a vast sea shore and a large border area along with the neighboring countries and the most vulnerable areas are Gujarat, Maharashtra, terai area of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and the Eastern region. The main items smuggled into the country are synthetic fabrics, watches, electronic goods, gold and narcotic drugs. Items smuggled out of the country are foreign and Indian currency and snake skins.
    • Among the items smuggled into the country, gold tops the list in terms of supply and demand.
    • Trafficking in drugs is perhaps the most sinister of all the smuggling activities.
    • The inter – gang rivalry, of which Mumbai provides a typical example, generates violence of extreme severity leading to killings and counter-killings.
    • The problems of drug traffic to and from India reached alarming dimensions during 1975 to 1985 and afterwards.
       
    • A no. of factors have contributed to this development; some of them being as given below:
      1. While the cultivation of opium has significantly reduced in India, the cultivation in Pakistan went up by about 25% during the last few years. The situation in Afghanistan and the exodus of refugees into Pakistan also resulted in unprecedent glut of drugs, a good part of which found its way into India.
         
      2. For Pakistanis it become safer to push drugs through India instead of carrying them directly to Western Europe in view of the greater vigilance on Pakistanis entering those countries. The period of early 1980s also synchronized with the beginning of the terrorism in Punjab. Around the same time, Chittagong in Bangladesh become an important place to receive drugs from the “Golden Triangle”; drugs reaching the eastern part of India being the next logical step.
         
      3. Silver prices in India were much lower than else where before 1983 and this lead to a great deal of illegal export of silver from the country. The situation, however, changed after the prices of silver crashed in the international market in 1983 leading to the replacement of silver export by illegal export of narcotics.

Responses to organized crime:

  1. Dealing with the issue of remedies against organized crime, one aspect to be kept in mind is that the problem is to be tackled by methods different from those employed in ordinary crimes.
  2. This was aptly put by an Attorney General of US “Innovative measures are necessary for the effective prosecution of organized crime cases because the traditional law-enforcement process is by and large designed for the control of individuals not for the control of organizations.
  3. Two approaches are possible in dealing with the criminal organizations responsible for organized crimes.

The Law enforcement perspective:

  1. according to this approach, organized crime is the creation of certain distinct groups in society and the task is to deal with them by applying legal sanctions.
     
  2. This appears to be the basis of the approach of the President’s Commission on law enforcement and criminal justice in the US.
     
  3. The commission identified the source of the organized crime in US in “a society that seeks to operate outside the control of American people and their working govt.,”. According to the commission, this society unites thousands of criminal who work together in complex organizational structures and or subject to laws and rules that are more rigidly enforced than those of legitimate govt

The social and economic perspective:

  1. According to some of the sociologist who studied the problem of organized crime in the US, the phenomenon is not an alien conspiracy but is a part of a social functioning or dis functioning and market economy.
     
  2. Effective economic strategies, sound policies regarding production and distribution, reducing the spread between profits and costs, place an major role in breaking up organized crime monopolies by creating legitimate markets through decriminalization or legislations.
     
  3. As regards the law-enforcement approach, besides the penal code which provides some basic principles relating to conspiracy, attempts, abetment and frauds, there are quite a few other enactments specifically designed to deal with the organized criminality. The Customs Act, Conservation Of Foreign Exchange and Prevention Of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA), Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture Of Property) Act, and Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 are some of these enactments.
     
  4. By its nature, organized crime is not ordinarily confined to a single state in given situation and quite often investigation cut across various states. As of now, the center has no powers to investigate into the crimes committed in states. Even CBI can operate in a state only if concerned is given by the state.
     
  5. Since organized crimes are committed for economic gain, the punishment should relate to offsetting the ill-gotten gains and confiscation of property of convicted criminals is, therefore, an appropriate sanction.
     
  6. Under sec.31, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act passed in 1985, very sever punishments are permissible in case of offenders having previous convictions to their credit.

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