Lahaul-Spiti, the ‘zero’ crime district

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh defies the trend to set a pleasant example. No case of murder, dacoity, robbery, abduction, molestation or sexual harassment has been reported from the district in the last ten years, while no case or rape has been registered in the last five years.

Some of the reasons attributed to this include: law-abiding and peace-loving residents, low density of population, channelisation of energy into agriculture, sports and other activities, and active engagement of the people in community fairs and festivals.

“These figures are not surprising. It’s related to environmental and religious factors among other things. The district remains cut off from the rest of the world during the winter months, and it has its own unique way of life. Even the few incidents that occur here mostly involve migrants who come for construction labour and other work. Among the native inhabitants, there is a great sense of harmony,” said Ram Singh, coordinator of the Nehru Yuva Kendra in Keylong, the district headquarters.

According to crime data maintained by the Himachal Pradesh police, the total number of criminal cases registered in Lahaul-Spiti since January 1, 2001, are less than 700. The corresponding figures for Kangra, Mandi and Shimla district are all more than 24,000. The second-lowest criminal cases were registered in Kinnaur. Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur are the only two districts of the state which are classified as scheduled areas in their entirety, as the tribal population in these districts is above 50 per cent.

“These districts form a contiguous belt in the far hinterland behind high mountain passes and are amongst the remotest and most inaccessible areas in the state,” according to the website of the state’s tribal development department.