LAHORE - The incidents of sexual assault continue to haunt the Punjab province, where police reported no less than 900 rape and at least 60 gang-rape cases during the first four months of this year.

Most of the victims appeared to be young women who were assaulted by their relatives or neighbours in rural areas of the province. Hundreds of cases are still under investigations as police were unable to arrest the influential rapists.

According to Punjab police, at least 896 victims including children approached the police after they were assaulted by criminals during the first four month (from January to April) of this year. Similarly, police also filed at least 60 gang-rape cases on the complaint of victims. Last year, the police had registered at least 914 rape and 63 gang-rape cases during the same period.

The surge in violence against women is not rare in this province where most of the female victims don’t report the crime to the police either because of their family background or due to influential perpetrators.

The overall crime rate is also on the rise in the most populated province. The rising violence was driven by sizeable surge in the cases of abductions, hurt, rape, and crime against women. During the first four months of 2017, a total of 134,912 crime incidents were reported by the provincial police against the last year’s 128,500 cases.

The reported crime cases are divided into two categories. The police registered at least 14,564 cases under the head of crime against person while the department had reported 15,122 cases of crime against person during the same period in 2016. The incidents of murder, attempted murder, hurt, kidnapping, kidnapping for ransom, rape, and gang-rape are included in the category of crime again person.

Similarly, at least 25,827 cases were registered in the category of crime against property during the first four months of this year. During the same period last year, the police had reported 27,364 cases. The category of crime against property included dacoity, robbery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, motor vehicle snatching, cattle theft and other cases.

As per police statistics, the overall crime graph swelled across the province although the incidents of murder, dacoity, robbery, burglary, and vehicle theft registered a slight decrease during the first four months as compared to the previous year.

Shootout: At least 10 policemen lost their lives and 19 others wounded while fighting criminals from January to April this year. However, in 2016, at least 16 police had died and 20 others were wounded while fighting criminals in first four months.

On the other hand, the Punjab police killed more than 86 criminals during the first four months of this year as compared to 129 criminals who killed in shootouts during the corresponding period last year.

Robberies: Latest police data reveals that at least 3,989 armed robberies were reported during the first four months of this year against 4662 such cases reported during the corresponding period in 2015. Similarly, at least 241 cases of dacoity (involving more than five gunmen) were registered with the police this year against the last year’s 383 dacoity cases.

Murder: The incidents of murder decreased slightly during the first four months of 2017 as compared to the previous year. At least 1188 murder cases were reported from January to April this year in Punjab. Last year during the same period, at least 1320 murder cases were reported with the provincial police. This year, the police also registered 1229 attempted murder cases against the previous year’s 1387 incidents.

Police investigators are struggling to solve several blind murder cases and to arrest most of the alleged killers. In the category of blind murders, most of the victims were women who were found brutally murdered in different parts of the province.

Kidnappings: The police during the first four months of this year reported at least 4325 abduction cases while last year at least 4284 such cases had been reported by the police. Most of the victims were said to be women and young girls who were abducted by gunmen.

Also, the Punjab police filed at least 11 cases of kidnapping for ransom in the first four months of the year. Last year, eleven cases were registered with the police under the head of kidnapping for ransom.

Burglary: At least 3680 cases of burglary were reported by the police this year against the 4109 such cases registered during the same period last year.

Theft: The provincial police registered 497 theft cases from January to April this year against the 514 theft cases reported during the corresponding period in 2016. The police also claimed a considerable decrease in cattle theft cases this year as compared to the previous. According to police, as at least 1670 cattle theft cases were registered during the first four months of this year in Punjab while last year the police had reported 2011 case during the same period.

Motor vehicle-snatching: This year, the police reported at least 1091 cases of motor vehicle snatching in the first four month while during the same period in 2016 the police had reported 1260 cases. as far as the case of motor vehicle theft are concerned, the police reported 4721 cases against the previous year’s 5537 cases reported during the same period.

Auto-lifting has become a booming business in this province where some 20,000 citizens are deprived of their vehicles every year. Less than 10 per cent of the total snatched or stolen vehicles are recovered by police annually, and thousands of auto-lifting cases are declared by police as “untraceable”.

Special and miscellaneous violations: Also, the provincial police reported at least 52,880 cases under the head of “local and special laws violations” during the first four months of the current year. Last year, the police had reported 49,558 such cases from January and April.