Can India deal with more crimes like the Noida case?

May 21, 2008

Police in Noida stand guard during the Nithari murder caseThe bungled police investigation into the killing of a teenage girl in Noida would almost be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. It led me wondering about crime in a booming India and yet again whether India has the infrastructure – this time it’s police not highways – to deal with yet another challenge from a booming economy.

In the case of Noida, one of India’s up-coming hi-tech cities, a teenager girl was found dead, her throat slit, in her room.  Police name a “prime suspect”, the Nepali house helper. But a family friend later finds the home help — his throat slit apparently like the victim’s — in the terrace of the same house as the victim.

The police had somehow missed the second corpse on their visits to the murder scene.

According to some newspapers on Wednesday, police are now clueless. There are unconfirmed reports of reporters contaminating the murder scene, forensic evidence left unsealed on the spot.

Firstly, why are domestic helps so often immediately named as suspects? I’ve lost count of the number of newspaper stories about suspect maids. I wonder how many are proved wrong.

And secondly, are police with the resources and expertise to deal with new and growing crimes in India’s burgeoning urban cities?

The murder case has resonated in the media, perhaps helped by the fact that this was the kind of rising middle class family in India that millions identify with — a dentist couple in the new city of Noida where thousands of white collar professionals now live in newly-built tower blocks.

But for all it’s gleaming malls and its location a few miles away from Delhi, Noida is part of Uttar Pradesh, what is often called India’s most populous and lawless state.  It’s hardly new to controversy when it comes to the police.

Remember the Nithari serial murders in Noida last year? Then also the police were Forensic investigators work during the Nithari case, 2007.widely criticised for ignoring the initial pleas of poor Indians in a slum nearby to probe the case of missing children. Later more than a dozen bodies were found at the back of a nearby upscale house.

From this evidence, this new tech city of Noida is living with a police force that is struggling to modernise.

People I have spoken to in Noida — including a foreign executive with a software company — are very worried about rising crime and the lack of police responses.

As India grows, crime may also rise. For many foreigners, crime in India often seems very low given widespread poverty that contrasts with huge shows of wealth. Try living in Sao Paulo and Mexico City, where thousands of people are kidnapped every year, to see what real insecurity is.

India is in danger of heading that way as wealth disparities rise and cities grow. Will India’s police be able to nip this trend in the bud?

So far, looking at this latest Noida case, the omens are not good.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

So proud are we, nation? Got them to quit India and still to match Scotland Yard?

Posted by Mohandas K Gandhi | Report as abusive

You say “India is in danger of heading that (increasing crime) way as wealth disparities rise and cities grow.” What rubbish Mr. Scrutton! How do you know this has to do with wealth disparities? You said yourself a while earlier that you’ve “lost count of the number of newspaper stories about suspect maids.”

My theory is that this has to do with strange social pressures that are a result of 20 years of economic and cultural liberalization… I leave it to you to interpret that. People now aren’t the way they used to be 40 years ago. India isn’t the sweet naive country it was until the 1970s, and we’ve all contributed to creating this mess.

Posted by bajji | Report as abusive

I apologize for being rude in my last posting, Mr. Scrutton.

Posted by bajji | Report as abusive

I agree with Mr. Scrutton. Weath disparities are a source of a lot of problems in the Indian system, not least of all crime. Crimes against women are also increasing in part due to the strong implulses projected and provoked by the ridiculous genre of entertainment we call ‘Bollywood’ and broadcast by all forms of mass media. The inuendos are very palpable, and in stark contrast to the moral trappings of Indian society – clearly causing a tension as is visible in increasing crime.

Posted by Objective Indian | Report as abusive

India needs to make some radical reforms in its justice system which includes the police and investigative branches. The biggest problem is that the politicians have too much power and thus they abuse it by hiring individuals who should never be in the police dept plus they always interfere in police investigation when it in their interest to cover up.
It would be better if the federal Gov makes the police force like the armed forces. Only under the control of (few) federal Gov like the Home/justice Dept. In this way recruitment will only hire the best and there will be minimal or no involvement of corrupt politicians.
I also think that India police training is very old and it needs to be updated.
What can you expect from the police when they are going around raping children in broad day light ! They have a lot of thugs in the Police force.
If India fails to make these much needed overdue reforms it will become like some of the Latin or South American nations. Rich economy and heavy crime.

India should learn from Russia’s Putin. He used some real good tactics to control serious organized crime in Russia and as a result you see a very progressive Russia today.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive