Changing Social Psychology Of Crime

Prem Khatry
At a time when Nepal aspires to enter into a new phase of growth and prosperity, crimes have diverted resources and attention on increasing pace of lawlessness all over the country. In order to undo this, the law must make its hand stronger and longer to take control of criminals whoever and wherever they are. It is a challenge but worth facing.
Any standard English language dictionary such as the internationally acclaimed and used ‘Oxford’ would give nearly a dozen meaning and usage of the word ‘crime.’ For ordinary citizens who have less interest in the variety of meaning the word means that a crime is an act committed against the social norms, challenging the existing law, thus punishable. The English language is so rich there could be another article on the word ‘punishment’ itself. However, it is easy to understand that law and crime stare at each other but meet at the spot facing each other pretty much squarely for the solution of the problem and for justice and humanity.

A cursory glance at the media – both print and electronic – over the last few weeks and more particularly over the last few days presents a gloomy situation where Nepalis feel increasingly insecure in their own residence, on the job and on the road to or from home and school. The most pathetic situation is displayed with the seduction and murder of the victim. It is a double crime. A case came last month with the kidnapping and murder of a minor Nishan Khadka of Bhaktapur. Here the objective of the kidnapper was to make easy money from the parents who were well below the imagined level the kidnappers were dreaming of.
In the Nishan Khadka case there is a problem in theorising the real motive behind the murder. If the victim and the so-called kidnappers seem to come from low economic background how could the kidnappers dream of Rs 4 million as ransom from a small teashop owner? But the boy was kidnapped any way. Perhaps, a safe rescue could be possible if police had not intervened with a scary sms for the kidnappers. That led to ‘finish’ the boy first. This is one school of thought. Since the boy knew the criminals well he could be the star witness against them. So their immature decision to get rid of the victim first took their own lives.
Humans work with the ever pervading wave of psychological instinct. For any incident like this to happen the last minute decision taken in a hasty way becomes crucial to give the whole incident a new turn. On the contrary if these people are accessible for counseling, 5 minute counseling can save someone’s life. Even a suicide motive can be turned against the decision should the person be found at the right moment before taking the action of killing him/herself.
Except Nishan’s, the three other cases reported this month are clearly related to sexual harassment, molestation and murder of these minor girls. With the motive in the mindset, the culprit looks for the right moment to execute the decision taken alone or in a group. At that point in time of great sexual urge and violent wish, the incident takes place against the desire or even prior knowledge of the victim. Why and how does that happen and why does the criminal want to get rid of the victim? It is a research and book-length work of a psychoanalyst focusing on a perverted mind and a violent attitude.
The writer is not an expert in this particular field of research but the commonplace knowledge holds that crime and attitude to execute violent, socially unacceptable activities origin in one’s ‘class’ consciousness, the sudden urge for such action, an available spot for the crime and back support – in person or otherwise. Violence of any hue and dimension takes place especially when the individual feels socially stigma-free and legally secure in the aftermath of the incident.
In the Nirmala Pant case, the violence erupted because the people of Kanchanpur had smelt foul in the incident. They thought the class attitude had worked against the victim’s life. The culprit could not assess the impact the crime would create on the whole of the Pradesh capital leading to huge demonstrations and death of a demonstrator. Huge crowd was built on daily basis because the people had made a good and valid guess about the hidden identity of the miscreants.
Where is the solution? By taking action against the police chief and the district chief has only subsided the extent of the violence on the street of Kanchanpur. The protest is not over. It looks like the long hand of law will soon reach the culprit involved in the tragic incident. The naturally drawn statement of the two Bam sisters will be the major clue to open the hidden box of the crime. But will that really happen? If the girls are made to keep quiet or not disclose the truth the people will come to the street with more vigor and anger. These two girls as the friend of the victim must have important clues. A safe and fact based statement is the need of the hour at the first level of inquiry. Other pages will unfold one after another once that happens.

Finally, two other incidents from Pokhara and Kathmandu must not be sidelined because Kanchanpur is the center of focus at this time. The shock prevailing in all these families is the same. Once criminals are spared for this reason or that, the state loses and criminals win. One can only imagine what will happen next. The poor and the helpless walking in the dark or bicycling to home or school must not be the target of some spoilt kids from big mansions.
Humans must behave like human, laws must teach lessons and domesticate the animal instinct of the anti-social elements gradually but with strength. An unsolved case is a waste of resources that could go to schools, roads and suspension bridges. A new wave to ‘wash’ the criminal mind with psychological inputs is the need now.

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