The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday launched the much-hyped Women's Power phone helpline '1090'.
The police band played to the applause of Samajwadi party workers, as chief minister Akhilesh Yadav inaugurated the helpline at his official residence in Lucknow.
The helpline, which can be accessed from anywhere in the state, will be "manned" by women police personnel. The identity of the complainants would be kept secret.
In his address on the occasion, the chief minister lauded the state's police force and said this would be his gift to his 'sisters' in the state, who face harassment at the hands of eve-teasers (molesters) and crank callers.
The chief minister directed police officials to ensure that the motive behind the helpline was met, and that no technical snags affected its functioning.
The helpline will operate from the administrative block 2 of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Pariwartan Sthal, the sprawling park built by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati near Jiamau crossing on Lohia Path in Lucknow.
This is the second instance of the Samajwadi party (SP) government using the Dalit memorials built by Mayawati for other purposes. This was in keeping with the promises made by the party in the run-up to the polls last year.
Some time back, a milk booth was opened in one such "monument".
Yadav said he was certain that the helpline for women would go a long way in creating a sense of greater security among women.
Navneet Sikera, the Lucknow deputy inspector general of police (DIG) who stewarded the project, said the helpline was largely aimed at counselling first-time offenders; if the offences continued, police would initiate legal measures against repeat offenders.
The helpline would deal with crank calls, obscene calls, SMSes and MMSes in the first phase, while all internet-related harassment, including posting of fake profiles on social networks would be dealt with in the second phase.
The third phase, Sikera said, would involve cases of harassment in public places.
A 'digital cage' has been built for the offenders; once helpline officials confirm that the offender was not paying heed to counselling, cops would act to ensure that the person is not able to get a character certificate, passport or driving licence.
"We will be linking the database of complaints and action taken to the Intelligence Department," director general of police (DGP) AC Sharma said.
The helpline would also be connected to Google maps so that the police can flag areas from where cases of eve teasing are reported, officials said. This, they added, was being done after inputs were received from the tech-savvy chief minister.