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Letter to BS: Broken window theory offers an accurate observation of crime

Unless stone pelting and other small security-related crimes are nipped in the bud

Business Standard 

Kashmir Protestors
Protestors clash with police personnel during a curfew, imposed on the third day after the clash between two communities over the protest against the Pulwama terror attack, in Jammu | Photo: PTI

In the 1990s, crime rates all over the United States declined dramatically. Experts tried to find the reasons. One cause was the hallmark judgment in Roe vs Wade that legalised abortions. Thus unwanted children were drastically reduced and as anyone knows an unwanted, uncared child soon takes to wayward ways starting from petty crimes to murder. But there was another factor, particularly in New York.

The police started actively cracking down on petty crime, keeping the streets relatively free of teenage criminals. Even graffiti painters in trains were rounded up, as also those who jump the turnstiles without paying for the fare. The logic was simple — all criminals start with small crime like stealing, pickpocketing, using services gratis etc; when nothing happens to them, they become bold and graduate to drugs, assault, mugging and finally to rape and murder.

A similar situation is prevailing in Kashmir. Children start as stone pelters and finally land with a RPG launcher in their hands. Unless and other small security-related crimes are nipped in the bud, you will have generations of terrorists hitting the streets. Let every arm of the state have a J&K camp in the midst of the most terror intensive places and let’s see how these worthies wax eloquent thereafter.

T R Ramaswami, Mumbai

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First Published: Thu, February 21 2019. 21:26 IST