Ranchi zonal IG MS Bhatia flags off the Shakti mobile van from Mahila Thana on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi’s damsels in distress can now expect knights on wheels to rescue them.
On their toes to salvage the district’s tainted image as the state’s rape capital, police on Monday flagged off two mobile vans — aptly nicknamed Shakti — to check harassment of the fair sex on roads and public places.
Speaking to The Telegraph after launching the 24x7 patrol vehicles from Mahila Thana, Ranchi zonal IG M.S. Bhatia said they hoped to ensure that women could move around freely and without the fear of being teased or groped.
“The objective is to reach out to each and every woman in trouble. From today, the two vans will patrol round the clock those roads that encompass schools, colleges, universities and offices with female employees,” he said, adding that the vehicles would display the landline number (2210533) of the Mahila Thana and that of the anti-tease cell (9431700003).
To create awareness, these numbers will also be put up at all stations, traffic kiosks, roundabouts and institutions. Though the tease helpline had been in the news in the recent past for developing frequent snags, SSP Saket Kumar Singh asserted that such problems had been overcome.
Singh said that four men and women of ASI, SI and constable ranks would man each Shakti van. “Initially, we will focus on Circular Road, the university campus, office streets. The vehicles will use walkie-talkie sets to send and receive messages on emergency needs. They will reach the right place at the right time, if complaints are lodged at the two helplines,” he said.
According to the officer, one could also file complaints on the spot. “The mobile vans are equipped with necessary stationery items. The complainant will be given a challan then and there,” he added.
The SSP said frequent campaigns conducted by police and social organisations were making women more and more aware of their rights. Compared to four years ago, when the Mahila Thana debuted in Ranchi, the number of complaints related to harassment, dowry, etc. have increased, he pointed out.
In 2008, the Mahila Thana had received 280 complaints, of which 160 were solved through counselling and FIRs were registered in the remaining cases. The numbers swelled to 812 in 2012. Once again, police solved 471 cases through counselling, while 44 FIRs were registered.
“The rising number of complaints is a positive sign. It means women are coming out to seek help. We are not in favour of spoiling anyone’s life by filing a case and sending the person to jail. For instance, if it is a case of marital discord, we first fall back on counselling to save the relationship. Judicial action is the last resort,” Singh said.
The move to empower women by launching Shakti vans has earned the thumbs up from GenY.
“We hope Ranchi will become a better and safer place for women. The intention is good and it should bring down the number of crimes against women,” said Sushila Minz, a postgraduate student of sociology at Ranchi University.