CM’s helpline for women functional, 4,000 calls in 6 hrs

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A query about a pending gas connection.

A request to speak to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

A woman's complaint against her husband who she suspects is involved in an extra-marital affair.

And requests for the Delhi Police's anti-stalking helplines.

These were among the first few thousand calls made to Delhi government's toll-free number 181, for women in distress. The helpline was activated at 11 am on Monday, after a three-hour technical delay.

Call operators took at least 4,178 calls in the first six hours of operations and senior officials said no serious complaints were received. At least 60 per cent of all callers dialled the helpline to check if it was working.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced the round-the-clock helpline on December 20, a few days after a 23-year-old paramedic student was brutally gangraped in a moving bus. The control room for the helpline has been set up in Dikshit's office at the Secretariat. The operators have the authorisation to forward the complaints to police stations, deputy commissioners of police and even the police chief, if required.

Senior government officials said there were a few glitches in getting the helpline started, but they were corrected in a few hours. "It was to begin at 8 am on Monday, but there were a few technical issues, which were sorted and the number was fully functional by 11 am. Since this is a toll-free number by MTNL, it was accessible through all MTNL numbers immediately," an official said.

He said the private mobile operators would soon be able to connect to the number.

"There were several calls from women asking for Delhi Police's anti-stalking helpline numbers," an operator said. She said many called with unrelated complaints like gas and electricity connections.

With the number widely publicised as functional in the CM's office, a fair number of callers attempted to speak to Dikshit. "We obviously cannot connect them to the CM, but we do take down all suggestions and forward them to a supervisor," a call operator said.

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