The Delhi Police’s '1093' helpline began as a social experiment in desperate times. Now it seems to have become an effective distress management system within months – arousing the interest of several state police chiefs one after the other.
This helpline was initially meant to cater solely to complaints from people of northeast Indian-origin in Delhi. Now, it unofficially caters to five different cities in the national capital region (NCR) despite what many describe as a mere skeletal infra-structure. It was launched in the wake of the Nido Tania murder case earlier this year.
Inf act, Delhi Police’s Whatsapp and Facebook account is being approached by complainants of northeast Indian-origin from Chennai to Agra, according to official police records.
“We receive complaints ranging from eve-teasing to dark spots and from those alleging cyber-stalking to attempt to murder on the helpline,” said a police officer.
“The helpline is not technically equipped to receive calls originating from beyond the NCR; but, in roughly a month, more than eleven calls from five cities around Delhi have been received from northeastern persons and forwarded to the local police for action.”
According to official records, over a 100 complaints were received by the Delhi Police’s special cell for the protection of northeast people through Whatsapp, Facebook and via email.
These originated from locations in Agra, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Meerut, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Dehradun among others.
What seems to have added to its popularity is a recent case in which a Gurgaon-based couple from Manipur turned to the helpline for help when their attempt at reporting an attempt to murder to the local police failed.
“Since the incident, Nazneen Bhasin, an IPS who is the NE nodal officer at Gurgaon and Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria took personal interest to implement the pattern of the Delhi Police helpline,” said another officer.
“In a recent meeting at the MHA, the Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai Police showed genuine interest in adopting the model during the MHA Committee interaction too.”
Ironically, the Bezbaruah committee which had been constituted by the MHA to make recommendations about the safety of northeastern people in Indian metros had recommended that 1093 be allowed to go national.
However, according to many activists associated with it, much more attention needs to be paid to the helpline’s infrastructure which currently consists of a handful of computers and two to three personnel.
“It has the potential to do a lot of good as experience and statistics have shown but a lot still needs to be done,” said Dr. Alana Golmei, an activist.
“It is a concept that has been welcomed by one and all and should be allowed to operate like the Delhi Police Control Room with its own dedicated servers, vehicles and personnel. ” David Boyes Akham, who had been consulted for the Bezbaruah report said, “The helpline was an experiment which had proved its merit. The fact that more and more people from the northeast are turning to it for help means that it could do wonders at the national level.”