ELL goes to Delhi: Using Whatsapp to protect women

Protests in Delhi following the 2012 rape of a young woman. Pic: Wikipedia

Protests in Delhi following the 2012 rape of a young woman. Pic: Wikipedia

This week the team behind Eastlondlines has been working with journalism students at Jamia Millia Ismalia University in Delhi to produce the Delhi Gazette, a website much like ELL and covering stories in the Indian capital. Many of these stories reflect the same issues and events that are found in London, so over the next few days we are showcasing a selection of reports which highlight different aspects of life in a city of 25 million people. Here is the second report, on a new safety plan for women using Whatsapp. You can find the Delhi Gazette here.

Delhi police this month launched the ‘Himmat’ Whatsapp and Hike group for women safety in the city, after getting positive responses from the audience about its ‘Himmat’ Mobile application, which was launched in February this year.

“Before boarding the cab or auto, one can send the detail or the photograph of the vehicle on the group which will be directly monitored at the police control room,” said Rajendra Bhagat, Delhi Police

The facility is available on the mobile number 8800001091, which is unified with the PA-100 system, in case any emergency is reported on the group, the nearest PCR MPV, a movable police control unit, will take an immediate action.

“We are happy that police are taking initiative for our safety, as it is really not safe to travel freely in auto and cab, especially in night hours,” said Harshita Rai, a student in Delhi University.

Last year police made Facebook and Twitter accounts to get connected with the women in National Capital Region (NCR) area of Delhi but they did not get active participation of the public. Whatsapp has already been far more successful.

“We receive around 50 to 60 complaints on a daily basis which we archive for a week. Once we got a complaint from a Jamia girl at night. She was travelling alone in auto and was worried as the auto driver did not seem decent to her. So she messaged us on the group and immediately we alerted the nearest police station who helped her to reach home safely,” said O.P Mishra, Delhi Commissioner Police.

The quick response had been advertised on radio and news channels that now auto and taxi drivers are also aware about it. Some drivers are not very happy about the new app.

“I don’t understand the reason why every auto driver is considered as a criminal, even if he is a gentleman also. I respect women and her dignity, but sometimes feel offended when women treat us like a ‘wrong’ person. Sometimes they click photographs and ask for full information before sitting in the auto”, said Suresh, an auto driver.

The police has a firm believe that it will be useful for the women who travel on a regular basis which will also boost their self confidence and encourage them to move freely without any fear.

“Delhi police needs to be appreciated, as they started taking up these issues seriously, but I am only concerned if they will act timely. Suppose, if a girl is in need and she has texted on the group. What is the probability they will be there on time to help her every time?”, asked Bulbul Dhar James, a social activist.

By Mehvish Kidwai

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