Women helpline flooded with frivolous calls

Women helpline flooded with frivolous calls

In December 2012, when the East Central Railway (ECR) set up a women’s helpline number, the sole intention of the railway madarins was to help the woman passengers in distress.

But two months down the line, the experience is baffling as 70 per cent of the calls are frivolous in nature. The personnel manning the control room is flooded with mostly train-related queries.

Perky calls with queries like “We are not getting confirmed tickets. Please help”, or for that matter, “What time will the train leave,” or “How many berths are available” have become a routine affair. Those attending the helpline number are now fed up of getting complaints about trivial issues.

“The helpline was started in December last year with an aim to provide relief to distressed woman passengers, travelling in any train in any direction under the ECR.

But our experience in the last two months shows that the purpose has been defeated,” RK Sharma, Assistant Security Commissioner of East Central Railway, told Deccan Herald  on Sunday.

The ECR had notified that any woman passenger, who faces harassment by co-passengers, or is under stress of any form, can dial the helpline number 06224-273260 and lodge her complaint. The personnel manning the control room would then ensure that the complaints were redressed within the next 30 minutes by informing the concerned railway divisions in Danapur, Mughalsarai, Dhanbad, Sonepur or Samastipur, as the case may be. “Apart from the divisions, we inform the Railway Protection Force (RPF) too. In many cases, our response time has been less than 30 minutes,” said Sharma.

To buttress his point, he cited the example of complaint lodged by the wife of a BJP MLA, who was travelling from Patna to Howrah along with her husband, but was assaulted by some railway officials who were going to West Bengal for training and were travelling in the same compartment.

“The swift response of women’s helpline saved the day for the MLA and his wife as adequate police personnel were rushed to the next railway station within no time. But then, it’s not too often that we get such opportunities to discharge our duties,” he said.

To drive home his point, he provided statistics to show how frivolous calls bug women’s helpline number. “Of the 1000 complaints received by the helpline at Hajipur since December 13, 2012, around 300 women in distress have so far sought help.

The rest have been cribbing about no power or water in the compartment, or asking aout train schedules and berth availability,” rued the top security official.

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