State to launch helpline for women

Come November and women will have a weapon against obscene calls, SMSes and MMSes: a toll-free helpline by the name of Women Power Line. Any woman in any part of the state can call this four-digit number, set up by UP Police, to lodge a complaint.

The complainant will not have to visit a police station to lodge a complaint or to pursue the matter, and her identity will not be disclosed during the investigation.

A group of women constables, selected from a batch of fresh recruits, are being trained in hospitality, English speaking and computers before being posted in the Women Power Line, said Lucknow Range DIG Navniet Sakera, who designed the concept. "It is the brainchild of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Uttar Pradesh will be a pioneer in the country to run such a hi-tech unit to deal with obscene phone calls, SMSes, MMSes, stalking and harassment at workplaces by using social networking sites," said Sakera.

The Women Power Line will initially deal with complaints of obscene calls, SMSes and MMSes. In second phase, the cell will be equipped to handle other grievances of women, said the DIG. He also said that a four-digit number for the helpline is expected to be allotted from the Department of Telecommunication very soon. They are planning to make the Women Power Line functional on the day of Bhaiyya Dooj.

The government had given the options of locating the cell in the administrative buildings near Ambedkar Memorial in Gomti Nagar or on the premises of the Kanshiram Eco-garden on VIP Road. Most likely, the police will choose the building in Gomti Nagar, the DIG said.

Only calls made by women will be accepted, Sakera said. The complainant herself or another woman on her behalf can also lodge a complaint.

The constable receiving the call will ask the woman's name and the place she is calling from, besides the details of the complaint. She will not be asked to give her address or any personal details, the DIG said. The details will be forwarded to another section, which will collect details about the accused, contact him and warn him. If he does not mend his ways despite two warnings, the police will register a case, Sakera said. Woman constables will call the complainant after 24 hours, a week and then a month to check if the harassment persists.

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