NEW DELHI:This is one contest where the Delhi Police appears to have taken lead over the state government.
While the Delhi Police’s mobile application—‘Himmat’—aimed at helping women in distress has become popular among women across the capital, the city-state government’s women helpline number 181 is in a shambles. Proper use of technology, manpower and an urge to make the city safer for women have actually worked well for Delhi Police, while the state government-run project is struggling, mainly due to administrative problems.
Concerned about women security in the capital, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in a note to Prime Minister Office last week, appraised about the various measures taken for the safety and security of women. The ministry found that Delhi Police’s mobile application, ‘Himmat’, aimed to help women in distress, has received huge response. Every hour, an average of four women send text messages on its WhatsApp and Hike applications, while nearly 12 SOS calls are received every day from various parts of the city. This application has helped in preventing crime against women “tremendously”, since its launch on January 1, this year.
The application, which has a specialised SOS safety application for sending alerts in cases of any emergency, has received a total 3,770 calls in the first seven months from various parts of the city. It has received 23,646 text messages through WhatsApp and Hike till last week. And, the police officials consider it as a great achievement.
“This application is one of the mediums to approach the police at the time of crisis. We have integrated this application with local police stations and police control room. As soon we get a message or SOS call on the ‘Himmat’ application, our force takes it as the top priority call,” Special Commissioner of Police Sundari Nanda told The Sunday Standard.
This month, a woman from North eastern parts of Delhi sent a message on WhatsApp of Himmat application stating that her in-laws have locked her inside a room and have threatened to burn her to death. Within seconds, the police traced her location via GPS and sent out a crisis message to local police station, police control room van, beat constable and police emergency teams. “In less than three minutes, our force reached the victim’s house and rescued her,” Deputy Commissioner of Police SK Singh, who is the in-charge of ‘Himmat’ project, said.
The senior officer informed that total 44,571 people have downloaded the application on their mobile phones so far, out of whom 8,725 people have already registered themselves. “The young girls and women apprehensive and scared about anything wrong, send a text message. We immediately inform our control room van located in the area to take up the case. We make a call to the user and ask her present situation and ensure that she reaches home safely,” Singh said.
The ‘Himmat’ application has become popular among young girls and women in colleges and schools across the national capital, but the Delhi government women helpline number 181 is yet to overcome the odds. Launched by erstwhile chief minister Sheila Dikshit after the Nirbhaya rape in December 2012, has run into rough water ever since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government took over.
Once a very popular service, the 181 team too wanted to come out with a mobile app, but with the state government not showing much of an interest, the app project is yet to see the light of the day. Despite running a successful trial, the app concept didn’t impress the Delhi government as a result of which, things were back to square one. And filling this void, a faster and effective ‘Himmat’ has slowly earned its popularity.
The 181 helpline service, run by a team of 16 members, attend many calls daily but it has been facing one problem or the other ever since its administrative control was handed over to the Women and Child Development department. “Not only are the salaries of the 181 department getting delayed every month, the staff has also been facing many other problems in its day-to-day functioning,” said a senior officer.
Now, the AAP government also is planning to hand over the day-to-day functioning of its 181 helpline to a private entity. To make this work, the government has already invited tenders to handover the project.