Millennium Post

Two years on, helpline still fails Delhi women

Delhi police helpline number - 100 - comes with the catchy  slogan, ‘With You, For You, Always,’ but makes you wait for at least half-an-hour before responding.

The delay in response by PCR vans is not exactly because of meagre number of personnel manning the post and the phone lines. Of the 1,000-odd PCR vans of Delhi Police that ply every day, around 300 have been diverted to cover VIP security. Among the remaining 700, 50 are earmarked for reasons of maintenance. That effectively leaves a fleet of roughly 600 vans to attend to the 20,000 calls received every day at the control room, of which around 10,000 calls, only half of the total received, are actionable.

Similarly, the Women and Child department of Delhi government, following the Nirbhaya case, had launched the much-hyped helpline number 181. It initially functioned under the chief minister’s office, but in the absence of an elected government, it’s now floundering.

Activist and advocate Khadijah Faruqui, who looked after this service, said “Initially our priority was to send any possible help to the caller within two to three minutes. We would immediately contact the nearby PCR vans, ambulances or mobile vans of the Delhi Commission for Women so that any of these provides the emergency help to the caller at the earliest.” However, given the personnel shortage, the ability to attend to the sea of complaints has significantly dwindled. Of the 12,11,887 calls made to the 24/7 helpline till December 10 this year, only 8,51,455 calls have been attended to.

Faruqui claimed that the helpline has managed to get 6,66,684 cases registered on the basis of the calls it had received so far.

Faruqui adds that while her team has done a commendable job, the employees have not been getting their salaries on time. “These women work 24/7 in three shifts and even do not get vehicles for a drop at home,” claimed Faruqui. “With just three phones lines, around 30 per cent of distress calls get dropped. Also we have few people and we need more hands,” said Faruqui.

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