The women's helpline number '1090', started by the state government on January 1 this year in the aftermath of the gruesome gang rape in Delhi, is now becoming a headache for the police personnel attending to the calls.
"Please save me. My husband is beating me. Send help." After receiving this phone call from a woman, when officials at the women helpline called back at the number to find her location, they were greeted by laughter. "No one is beating me. My husband is sitting just in front of me. I used the helpline to warn him", said the same woman, putting down the phone.
Such calls are flooding the helpline center. On Wednesday, a woman called up saying that she had been locked up in a room. When the helpline officials tried to find her whereabouts, it was found that there was no illegal confinement -- it was a prank call.
"We get a phone call in the morning. The woman says that her son is not having his breakfast and refuses to take milk also. She asks us to scold him," says an official at the 1090 call center. "Some call at this number just as a matter of pastime", the official adds.
As per the prevailing practice, every call at 1090 is received by a lady officer, who then forwards it to a senior. The senior officer then calls back, seeking details of the problem stated.
Women helpline in-charge Sunita Cornelious told HT that some girls are taking "undue advantage" of the emergency service. "A girl from a hostel in Bhopal called on 1090. She said that a man performs some deeds in front of her hostel. When a helpline officer called her back, she replied that she had called at this number just to check whether it works or not," she said.
"We receive many prank calls from across the state. But that doesn't mean we do not get serious calls daily. We can't do anything about prank-callers except ignore them after giving them a warning," the officer added.