New Delhi: A top cop of the Delhi Police has sought the help of community leaders in popularising the use of the dedicated helpline number among members of the Northeast community in the national capital.
The helpline number ‘1093’ was launched in February 2014 after the then government at the Centre received considerable flak over a series of attacks on members of the community living in the megacity.
“From your side, you could inform about the number to other members. I still get phone calls in the middle of the night on my personal number complaining about the behaviour of a taxi driver. When we have organised a unit, why isn’t it being utilised? The more it is used, the more effective it will become,” joint commissioner of police, David Lalrinsangha told a gathering of the police force, legal fraternity, civil society and NGOs in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“Any shortcomings (with the response time) must be immediately brought to our notice,” he asserted.
According to Delhi Police sources, the number receives ten calls a day on average. Although no official census figures are available, unofficial sources put the number of people from the Northeast living in the city-state at one million. Therefore, given their population size, the number of calls made to the helpline is presently abysmally low.
Lalrinsangha was speaking at the one-day training programme for Northeast representatives and community leaders with the Special Police Unit for North East Region (SPUNER) of the Delhi Police.
He also urged the community members to be well organised, avoid carrying the baggage of tribal divisions from back home and practice good behaviour if they wanted to be taken seriously by the society and law enforcement. He averred that holding of regular meetings by different ethnic groups from the region would help in strengthening mutual understanding amongst them.
Thirty-five special identification cards of North East Representative of Delhi Police were awarded at the event to select community members.
Please file an FIR
A wide range of the most relevant concerns like the importance of filing an FIR, medical examination in instances of sexual assault, hiring a private lawyer, opposing the bail plea filed by an accused party and role of activists and media were also taken up for discussion by the senior Supreme Court lawyer and founder Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Colin Gonsalves, at the forum.
Citing the 2013 Supreme Court judgment in Lalita Kumar vs Govt. of Uttar Pradesh case, Gonsalves informed, “The police are required to register an FIR; a 2013 amendment in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) holds that a police officer who does not register an FIR is committing a criminal offence. The only question that a police officer can ask is if the complaint discloses a cognizable offence.”
Terming SPUNER one of the best things to have happened for the members of the community living here, he opined, “You are lucky to be in Delhi in the sense that you have a separate (police) unit dedicated to you. If you phone them, they come immediately.”
Gonsalves said that there was a need to replicate the SPUNER model in other major cities of India with a significant population of the people from the Northeast.
In the past, there were several instances when personnel of the Delhi Police got hauled up for not registering complaints even in very serious cases of harassment and racism reported by the people from the Northeast. In February 2014, the central government established a committee headed by former bureaucrat MP Bezbaruah following the public thrashing and subsequent death of Nido Tania, a 19-year student from Arunachal Pradesh living in New Delhi. The committee submitted its report after examining the concerns of the people from the region living in other parts of India, especially in the metro cities, in June of that year.
Mavio Woba a member of the Bezbaruah Committee told EastMojo, “Nearly 90% of the respondents that we had reached out to at that time said that they had faced violence or discrimination in some form or the other.”
Crimes against women
It was particularly crimes against women that were reviewed at the meeting. Noted human rights activist Alana Golmei told the portal that anywhere between 10-15 young women below 30 years are found dead in the Delhi NCR every year. “They are mostly murder victims who have become isolated from the community due to the demand of their professions such as call centre jobs,” claimed Golmei.
In most cases, the women were killed either by their boyfriends who were from other parts of India or African nationals. In one of the most famous cases that made media headlines across the country, Manipur’s Reinghamphi Awungshi was allegedly murdered by a relative of her landlord in the summer of 2013. The accused was reportedly stalking her months before finally committing the heinous crime.
Seven years later, Golmei is fighting the case in Supreme Court that has constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to re-examine the submitted evidence.
Some members of the over 150-strong audience shared heart-wrenching tales of their own acquaintances being illegally confined by their partners or attempts by some unscrupulous employers to push them into the sex trade.
Members of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) were also present on the occasion. The body will be holding a public hearing in Arunachal Pradesh on June 21.