OTHER LOCAL THEMES
culture and customs
employment and income
introducing the area
justice and crime
quotes about justice and crime
key testimonies featuring justice and crime
A number of people say crime, particularly theft, has increased and quite a few attribute this primarily to the new roads, which have brought in more outsiders. As well as taking people's belongings, outsiders are accused of stealing local natural resources, such as grass, fodder and timber. Several narrators also say that some outsiders harass local women who now feel less secure when gathering fuelwood, for example: "Womenfolk used to walk without fear, there were no bad characters. These seem to have come in because of the road." (India 29) India 7 blames education for the increase in petty crime, but goes on to say it is "partially the use of television and partially due to the communication with the outsiders. Unemployment is adding to the problem." One man (India 3) tells how a series of thefts from their temple and village store has affected his community: "Today there is complete lack of trust between people in the village, as each person thinks that the other one must have taken it all while the other suspects someone else. It is true that the gold and silver may have been taken by an outsider but the vessels and grain etc must have been pilfered by the villagers. An outsider too can only steal with the collusion of a villager."
Alcohol is seen as another cause of crime and violence; several women have been active in anti-alcohol campaigns. Another recurrent topic is increased corruption, with several people citing the problem of forest guards taking bribes to sell wood illegally: "the needy person remains timberless because he does not possess bribes and the right connections." (India 5) Bribery of police is also mentioned, with one woman (India 1) explaining that when some people who brew illegal liquor are handed over to the police by villagers, they simply "pay money and have themselves released". This is one reason, she and others say, why they prefer to resolve disputes within their communities and go to the police only as a last resort. Several narrators give details of dispute resolution in the past, and explain the role of the panchayat and the pradhan. Many express a preference for the old system because it seemed more decisive and clear; now "the execution of law and order is done by various people". (India 12).
quotes about justice and crime
"In the village, the minor disputes and criminal acts are settled by the intervention of some elderly wise men. The decision taken by such a group of men has to be accepted by all. The traditional ways of punishment are still observed. Social boycott is still popular in the village and it has to be accepted."
Tegh, M/74, farmer, India 7
"Because of the vehicles, thieves and dacoits (gang of robbers) also come. They are breaking our locks. In our village Nakota itself there have been cases of house-breaking, and they must have come in vehicles. Locks don't open on their own. Till now we had not heard of any theft in our area but nowadays one hears of thefts all over."
Jubli, F/55, head of Mahila Mangal Dal, India 14
"If people fought at night, after drinking chang (homemade wine), they would gather together again in the morning and start drinking again to establish a friendly atmosphere. Then they would strike a compromise. There was no ill will left. If the dispute ever took a serious turn, then both parties were called and counselled. The party which was found more guilty offered a bottle of chang with due respect, across a carpet, along with other senior persons. The matter used to end there."
Champal, M/90, trader, India 24
"People held the pradhan (head of panchayat) in awe in the village. He would settle disputes in the village mostly giving the right counsel and bringing about an agreement. In those times very few disputes of the village reached the courts of law. If somebody refused to listen to the pradhan then he would file a petition then only would the matter go any further.Today you need money[for bribes] even if you seek justice."
Mahesha, M/67, shop keeper/ farmer, India 3
"Some people simply ask the forest department guards directly [for illegal wood]. The patrol men keep changing, so it is no loss to them. It is our loss, and our forest is damaged. They take bribes for their own profit and ruin our forest."
Bachandei, F/70, Hindu, Rajput, farmer, India 34