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Helpline heat on police: S-I held, SHO in dock

India on 05 September 2013
Location : Chandigarh, India | Source : The Indian Express

Within twelve days of launching its 181 helpline, the Punjab Police, apart from tackling criminals, has also had to contend with embarrassments: a sub-inspector has been arrested and faces dismissal after a complaint through the service while an SHO is under the scanner for giving him a clean chit in an inquiry.
Of the 6,500 people who called since the helpline was started on August 22, more than 800 had complaints against the police force itself, including non-registration of cases, police inaction and misbehaviour. While 280 of these have been sorted out, another 50 calls needed immediate police intervention but they have been declared closed after the caller's expressed satisfaction at the action taken.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who reviewed the functioning of the service after 10 days, called up some of the satisfied callers himself to cross check. "I called a Mohali resident and for the first five minutes he kept insisting that he could not be talking to Sukhbir Badal and that I was joking. On a serious note, however, after I talked to some of the callers I realised that this service could bring about a revolution in police functioning provided it continues with the seriousness with which it was started," Sukhbir told The Indian Express.

"The key to its working well lies in its monitoring. The SSPs have to call ten per cent of the callers of their district every day to check the response. They will report to ADGP law and order Dinkar Gupta who will then call ten of these callers to take an independent feedback," Sukhbir said.

As the number of calls flow thick and fast, the heat is on the police officers in the field. Sub inspector Nishan Singh posted in Amritsar is set to be dismissed from service for allegedly "snatching" the phone and laptop of an NRI . The SHO who gave the SI a clean chit during a preliminary inquiry is now facing an inquiry.

"NRI Gurtej Singh from Tarn Taran had gone to pick up his parents from the Raja Sansi airport in Amritsar and on his way back he was stopped by this SI. An argument followed over a trivial issue and the SI allegedly snatched his stuff. He called the 181 and reported what had happened. An inquiry followed and the SI was arrested on Tuesday," said ADGP (law and order) Dinkar Gupta.

The service has thrown up several success stories. In Amritsar a woman who gave birth to twin daughters was reportedly thrown out of her house by her in-laws. A relative Gurmet Singh called 181 and police intervened immediately and the matter was resolved. In another case an old man was reportedly thrown out of his house by his son. The neighbours called the helpline and the police reached the spot.

Over a dozen callers have also given crime tips to the police on the number. "We have received a detailed e mail on the 181 portal about the top drug peddler shops in the state," Gupta said.

The helpline has also received calls in which the callers say that they tried the 100 number but could not get through and so they were now calling 181.

Over a 1000 calls were also 'mis-routed'. "Jalandhar's STD code is 0181 and many Jalandhar calls ended up in the police helpline. We are learning as we are moving ahead. The system will be fully streamlined within the next two months," Sukhbir said.

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