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Delhi Police Northeast helpline number goes toll-free, community rejoices

The Delhi Police North East helpline number, 1093, has recently been made toll-free. It’s a very welcome step, say Northeastern residents in Delhi, many of whom are students and do feel the pinch of a long phone call at normal network rates.

delhi Updated: Sep 03, 2018 18:11 IST
Nikita Saxena
Nikita Saxena
Hindustan Times
Delhi Police,North East helpline Number,1093
Northeastern students in the Capital are now happy that they won’t have to worry about talktime balance when dialling for help. (Photo: Vipin Kumar/HT)

It’s always nice to have a support system in place when one lives in a big city; and if that support is just a phone call away, it feels even nicer. The Northeastern community in Delhi is very happy that the helpline number 1093, dedicated to them, has been made toll-free.

“We had been trying to have the helpline number made toll-free for a few months now; the Northeastern residents of Delhi had been requesting for it. They’d come to us and say, ‘Isko police helpline number 100 jaisa kar do.’ Now that it has been made toll-free, people are very happy and we hope that it encourages them to reach out to us even more,” says Hibu Tamang, additional CP, Special Police Unit for Northeast region, New Delhi. The cop tells us that the helpline, on an average, gets at least three to five calls daily. On some days, the calls can go up to seven. The police are hopeful that the community will now reach out to them more readily, and Northeastern residents in the Capital are equally pepped up.

Why was it so important to make the helpline toll-free? Because the language barrier — many Northeastern people try to explain their problems in English, while the cops who take the call often prefer Hindi — meant long and expensive calls at the normal network rate. Not that it’d prevent anyone from dialling for help in an emergency, but a free number is that much more reassuring, especially if the caller is a student with a low talktime balance on their phone.

Chumbemo Patton, a Nagaland native living in Delhi, explains, “Think of it as lost in translation. Local cops aren’t always well-versed in English and for the Northeastern community, explaining things in Hindi becomes an issue. So the calls would last anywhere between five minutes and 20 minutes, and that would mean spending a lot of balance. Now imagine you’re a student.”

Delhi has its fair share of Northeastern students, who stay in areas such as Vijay Nagar and GTB Nagar near North Campus and Munirka, Safdarjung, and Ashram in South Delhi. Praising the move, Jesmin Ahmed, a recent Miranda House graduate and a Guwahati native, says, “A lot of students and people working in small jobs are low on balance. So if they have to report a matter urgently and don’t have any balance, should they first waste time on getting a recharge done or worry about running out of balance midway? While mobile network charges may seem nominal, they’re not feasible for everyone, especially students. Now, with a toll-free helpline, they don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Some past incidents have shown the need for such a helpline. VS Mungreishin, president, Northeast Student Society, Delhi University, says that Northeastern students are often subjected to taunts, are overcharged by landlords, and even prevented from cooking their own dishes.

In a difficult situation, who could they turn to except the police? Happy with the toll-free helpline, Mungreishin states, “The police are always ready to help us, and this move just proves that they’re trying to take up our issues as seriously as they can. People who bully us now know that there’s a special helpline for us, so they’ll think twice before bothering us.”

First Published: Sep 03, 2018 18:08 IST