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Corona: Crime explodes in India

Janaki Devi was taking a morning walk near a park in south New Delhi when it happened. Two young men on a motorcycle rattled up, stopped briefly, and snatched the gold necklace from her. "Everything happened so quickly. The men were gone when I could react," the 50-year-old housewife told DW. She was lucky. With the help of recordings from video surveillance cameras, the police were able to arrest the thieves: two students, no previous convictions so far.

Street crime has increased noticeably in India since authorities began easing coronavirus protection measures last month.

The wife of a retired State Department official was stabbed to death in a robbery last month. According to the police, the crime was committed by a security service employee and his colleagues.

Growing unemployment exacerbates the need

Experts say that the rise in unemployment in the Corona crisis is driving many people to criminal acts, especially the youth. In one case, two former restaurant managers and a hardware store clerk were found guilty of stealing cell phones and jewelry in the capital.

Economy on the ground: Closed shops in Shiliguri in western India, July 2020

"They just robbed a delivery man here," says police officer R.P. Meena in conversation with DW. "In many cases, well-trained people who had no criminal record were convicted as perpetrators. During interrogation, they then say that they have no job.

India has nearly a million registered coronavirus infections. Almost 25,000 people have died from or with the virus. After the USA and Brazil, India is now the country where the infection rate is increasing the most. The pandemic has also hit the Asian country's economy hard. Many companies have made redundancies, and the informal sector is also in crisis.

"The unemployment rate will probably continue to rise due to the pandemic," said scientist Pradyumna Uppal to DW.

Cyber ​​fraud is piling up

Authorities report that cybercrime has also increased since the pandemic began. In the state of Maharashtra alone, the police recorded 400 cases - hate speech on the Internet, for example. "We have instructed the control authorities to remove such posts from the network," says Balsing Rajput, who is responsible for cyber crime at the Maharashtra police.

People in New Delhi stand in line for food - many don't know how to make ends meet

There has also been an increasing number of cases of people being defrauded while making online transfers. "We have found that cyber fraudsters have created fake websites, similar to delivery services, in order to entice unsuspecting customers into online transactions," one official describes the scam.

Blackmailed with alleged sex photos

According to the authorities, such frauds have increased since the loosening of the protective measures: fake credit card transactions, dubious online bookings, allegedly free corona tests, tempting job offers from abroad. "Other cases involve lotteries, interest-free loans or insurance policies," police officer Pratam Singh told DW.

Cyber ​​criminals also manipulate photos of women in order to blackmail them. "We have received many complaints, ranging from posting obscene images to online threats and extortion," said Akancha Srivastava, cybersecurity expert and founder of the Akancha Foundation.

What about the government? After all, she warns you to be careful of fake text messages or e-mails. And she calls for reports of online fraud, cyber threats or extortion to the authorities.