This is true. In fact, statistics can't be relied upon in India, easily. The reason is the old practice of 'burking' or non-registration of crimes.
UP may be much behind MP as far as number of rapes is concerned, but if you have to see the 'lawlessness' or 'crime situation' in a state, then the parameter is always--MURDER.
Murder or homicide, is a crime, which the police have to register anyhow [though in case of unclaimed bodies, the police can still hush up to an extent].
They can't hush it up so easily. As far as murders are concerned, UP tops the list with 5,047 murders in a year.
After UP, Bihar is a far second with 3,441 murders, Maharashtra recorded 2,512 murders, followed by AP 2,484, West Bengal 2,264 and Madhya Pradesh 2,112.
If one goes by the basic anology of crime then the state that has most murders would also be leading in other violent crimes including rapes and molestation incident.
If UP doesn't lead and is far behind even a state which has less than half of UP's population, [and is also behind Rajasthan, Maharashtra] suspicion rises that the crimes are not being registered. In heartland, it is very common, especially in rural areas, to not register the FIRs.
Taking application, not registering FIR
In cases of rapes, it is common to take the complaint or 'jaanch mein le liya hai'. So the 'darkhwast' or 'aavedan' is taken, but the application is just kept aside, it is not registered as a crime. Its a common tendency among policemen (station officers), as they want to keep the number of crimes at the police station low.
This practice of not registering crime is common. Apart from murders, the major crimes which are considered heinous are robberies (loots) and rapes. The figure of robberies is also brought down shrewdly in many states.
Hushing up cases to bring down figures of heinous crimes
If your gold chain (or wallet) is snatched by bike-riding snatchers or looters, then ideally, a case under section 392 should be registered. Instead, the police in many states, register it under section 379 (theft). So that's how the crimes are brought 'under control'.
UP records such a high number of murders, abductions and other violent crimes, but when it comes to rape, the figure is not as high. Clearly, there is less registration of cases. This tendency can't be checked unless superiors take the SHOs/SOs to task.
Also, the politicians should give the go-ahead to police to register each and every crime. But they also dislike the brouhaha over 'rising crimes' and let the cops continue with this practice. When one incident of rape can bring down a government or at leash push the CM to the corner, why would administration give the order to policemen to treat all complaints as FIRs.
More focus on crimes in UP than in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat or Orissa
But there is another aspect to it. UP is the most populous state in the country and being close to Delhi, there is definitely more focus on crimes here, compared to states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat or even Orissa. Media is more charitable to even other states in the North India.
There are gang rapes and rape-cum-murders in many other states, which never get covered in national media. There is also a comfort factor of journalists with certain regimes. Certain states have more crimes but it won't get as much criticism.
There are multiple factors. So, politicians and police also fear the excessive 'negative coverage'. Ideally, each case should be registered and there should be proper investigation, so that culprits are arrested. But at times there is selective [disproportionate] anger over certain cases, while there is no mention of equally heinous crimes in some other states.
Assam records nearly 2,000 rapes though UP with seven times population registered 3,000 rapes
Assam is a small state compared to UP, Maharashtra or MP. It is almost 1/6-1/7th [13-14%] in population to UP, but when it comes to rape, the difference is startling. Assam records 1,937 rapes, compared to 3,050 (UP), which is almost 2/3rd [66%].
Isn't it unbelievable? Also, there is another aspect. The huge state of Bihar records 1,128 rapes, much less than Delhi. So Delhi that has a population of around 1.5 crore registers far more number of rapes than in the entire Bihar state, which has a population of over 10 crore!
Just see the figures:
India registered 32, 613 murders in 2013
India registered 31,967 rapes in 2013
[UP 19.9 crore, Maharashtra 11.2 crore, Bihar 10.3 crore, WB 9.1 crore, MP 7.2 crore, Orissa 4.1 crore, Assam 3.1 crore et al]