The phones didn’t stop ringing on Thursday as the Aam Aadmi Party’s anti-corruption helpline went off the block, clocking 3,904 calls in its first seven hours.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal with Delhi law and tourism minister Somnath Bharti during a press conference in New Delhi. (Sonu Mehta/HT photo)
However, with 10 operators and 30 lines in place, only 824 calls (25%) could be attended, of which 53 were marked as ‘serious’. The government plans to go ahead with sting operations in these 53 cases.
Kejriwal had launched the helpline, 011-27357169, on Wednesday and said that it will assist citizens in setting up stings to catch the corrupt.
"This helpline number makes every citizen of Delhi an anti-corruption inspector. State vigilance department has a team which will look into the matter," Kejriwal had said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Happy with the response, the CM has decided to increase the number of operators to 30 and lines to 60. The government also plans to release an easier four-digit number by Friday.
“The response was beyond expectation. In the morning hours, we had to increase the number of seats (operators) from 10 to 15 and by Friday, we will have 30 seats. In the first hour itself we received 200 calls,” said Kejriwal.
Of the 53 ‘serious’ complaints, 15 callers refused to conduct the sting themselves while “38 callers agreed and a few are already underway. Teams are already in the process of trapping the corrupt officials and the sting is of good quality”, the CM added, refusing to divulge details of the stings.
Cases are likely to get registered by Friday. The CM had said Wednesday that corrupt officers will be arrested within 24 hours of submission of the first piece of evidence.
“People have to mend their ways or they will end up in jail. Corrupt people will develop the fear of being under surveillance,” he said on Thursday.
The primary job of the helpline will be to advise people what to do if a government official asks for a bribe to perform his duty. The helpline will run like a call centre and will operate between 8am and 10pm.
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"We are trying to get a fix on a simpler, four-digit helpline number in a few days," the Aam Aadmi Party convenor said.
"Most government officers and employees are honest. But there are some black sheep in the crowd. We have to identify those black sheep and put them in jail," he added.
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Kejriwal said the complainant will be given "as much protection as possible" by the state government. He added that it will be the government’s responsibility to ensure that the complainant's work is done for which he was asking bribe.
In his first speech at the Ramlila Maidan after taking oath, Kejriwal had hinted at launching such a helpline.
"When a government employee asks money, don't refuse him. Agree to give him money and record the conversation. The recording that you make will work as supplementary evidence in the court," Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal said several teams had been constituted to act on complaints of the people.
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"We have also spoken to the L-G. He has agreed to keep Delhi Police on stand-by. If there is a flood of cases, Delhi Police teams will also help us in arresting corrupt officials," Kejriwal said.
The government will advertise in newspapers and FM radio channels and put up hoardings in the city to inform the people about the number.