Chandigarh, India, Aug, 2017 -- The Haryana Police receive over 150 calls a day from women reporting a crime against them or otherwise in distress on the 1091 helpline, but only a few lead to cases being registered. So far, the state police have registered fewer than 600 cases till June on the basis of these complaints, and depend more on "counselling" to resolve the complaint. On Tuesday, Virender Kundu, father of the stalking and attempt to kidnap victim, Varnika, told The Indian Express that incomplaints such as these, the police are not "mentally prepared to immediately lodge an FIR", and said it was only after he indicated that he wanted a case registered did the police start taking the next steps.
Although the incident involving his daughter and Haryana BJP Chief Subhash Barala’s son took place in Chandigarh, remarks by a senior Haryana police officer explaining the low number of cases registered on complaints received over the helpline appeared to vindicate Kundu’s views, that registering a case is not the first reflex for police. "Following Operation Durga and Youth Against Sexual Offense drive in April, the helpline has shown signs of being accessed more and more by women in distress," Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) OP Singh said. He added, "It’s not as much (about) arresting, it is more about counselling in police stations in the presence of parents". Singh said Mahila police stations were providing "counselling" in "hundreds" of cases.
The ADGP claimed that in many cases, women themselves ask for a police presence to "deter" the person against whom they are complaining from harassing and also do not want to register a case. "Very few women ask for a case to be registered," said Singh. Other police officials attributed this to the lack of confidence among women in pursuing their complaint to a logical end.
"There are women who call the helpline, but don’t want to get cases lodged due to fear. Either they require counselling or just want police intervention to check the accused at an early stage. But when it comes to getting a case registered, some of them refuse flatly. Then, in about 20 to 30 per cent cases, the claims turn out to be false, so we need to verify a lot before lodging an FIR," said a DSP-rank officer.
The helpline received 28,299 calls from January to June this year with complaints ranging from domestic violence, eve teasing, stalking and molestation. But the police registered cases only in 2.11 per cent of the complaints. A total of 598 ‘crime against women’ cases were lodged at various police stations in the state and 622 people arrested under these cases. May recorded the highest number calls -6,364.
June recorded 6,090 calls, on the basis of which 200 cases were registered leading to the arrest of 208 people. In April, there were 77 calls to complain about stalking, 229 in May and 192 in June. As many as 135 complaints of molestation came in April, 178 in May, and 129 in June. The number of calls of domestic violence in all the 22 districts have been in the thousands: 1756 in April; 2281 in May; 2280 in June. Haryana Police has directed all district SPs to designate a police officer as 1091 in-charge, who will maintain a 1091 Register.
"After the calls are received, they are recorded in 1091 Register by the operator. The operator then calls up the complainant and gives her contact number, unit of the police officer handling her matter. A DSP level officer from Women Police Station calls up the complainant and checks out her satisfaction within 24 hours and a case is registered if found credible," the ADGP added. But Inspector Sunita, who is the in-charge of Mahila police station in Panchkula, said, "Women themselves withdraw their complaints..in case of young girls..parents don’t let them come forward.." However, Geeta Bhukkal, MLA from Jhajjar, cited a different reason for less cases being filed. She blamed policewomen at lower levels for not taking such crimes seriously, adding that police also wants to keep the crime rate low.
"The staff at women police stations is inadequate. Moreover, they take the distress calls really lightly..," she said. In its crime against women campaign, Haryana Police had identified as many as 118 spots across Haryana which were vulnerable to "eve-teasing". The women police personnel have also beengoing to various schools and colleges to carry out awareness drives.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Date Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
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