1091, toll-free helpline for women in distress, across Maharashtra

Police commissioners and SPs made responsible for calls received in their jurisdictions

The toll-free number, 1091, meant to help women in distress, is now functional across the state. Post the Guwahati molestation incident, the plan to have the number accessible to women across Maharashtra was mooted in the Legislative Council. The move was necessitated given the rise in crime against women in the state. Of the 45 police units in the state, 32 have a person each attending to these calls.

The initiative was proposed in October last year but was implemented only in Mumbai and Thane. Also, the number was different for these cities. Post the tie-up with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) recently, 1091 was allotted as a toll-free number for the entire state.

The number was mooted as per the recommendations by a panel headed by retired justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari. The panel had also suggested amendments to Sections 354 (molestation) and 509 (act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC. In the recent session, home minister RR Patil assured the Council that necessary steps have been taken to protect women's rights in the state and ensure justice for victims.

Deputy commissioner of Women and Child Welfare Department Ravi Patil said the number would help register more cases and the department will help by intervening and suggesting action. "The Women and Child Welfare Department will be in touch with the Home Department for any assistance after such incidents are reported. We can provide the list of counselling centres, shelter homes and short-stay homes to the department. This information has also been passed on to the Inspector General (Protection of Women),'' said Patil.

According to the Home Department, as soon as the call is received, it is directed to the respective police station in the district. The Superintendents of Police and commissioners of the districts are responsible for cases in their jurisdiction.

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