Sheila Dikshit's much-touted women helpline '181' leaves them at criminals' mercy

181 helpline

Much to the embarrassment of Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, the helpline that she had set up and announced with great fanfare via advertisements in newspapers itself appeared to be 'helpless' - it was not working this morning. Calls to the number were greeted by a long beep sound.

In a bid to check the increasing rate of crime against the feminine gender in the national capital, government had set up the helpline "181" to offer immediate help to women in distress.

Dikshit had last week announced launch of the round-the-clock helpline for offering help to women in distress amid nationwide uproar over the December 16 brutal gangrape of the 23-year-old here. The girl had breathed her last on Saturday in a Singapore hospital.

Senior Delhi Government officials said the helpline could not be made functional due to some glitches in the MTNL network.

They said the helpline, which will operate from the Chief Minister's office in Delhi Secretariat, can be contacted from landlines as well as mobile phones. The helpline will be connected with all the 185 police stations across the city.

The Telecom Ministry had last week released the three-digit number following a request by Dikshit. It will be the first three-digit number to have been allotted by the Ministry in two years.

The Ministry had earlier allotted '167' for the helpline but upon request for a number that would be easier to remember, the number was changed to '181'.

The helpline finally became operational later in the afternoon.

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