The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Spouse spat' Call the cops

Alarmed at the spurt in atrocities on housewives by their in-laws and crumbling marriages, the Salt Lake police plan to form a social organisation to re-unite estranged couples.

“This organisation will try to mend the rift before the couple lands up in a court of law,” Sujay Chanda, sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Salt Lake, told Metro on Monday. The name of the panel will be announced soon. “The organisation is still in its formative stage,” said Ajay Nand, additional superintendent of police, Salt Lake.

“Doctors — gynaecologists and psychologists — will join legal experts, social workers and voluntary organisations on the panel,” Chanda said. The police will play the role of convener, monitoring the organisation’s progress. “We will intervene where necessary,” Chanda added.

“There are issues which people feel uncomfortable discussing in front of the police. And we do not have professional expertise in every field. So, professionals are being drawn into the organisation,” Chanda said.

Police said every year, more than 50 cases of atrocities against women are registered in the three police stations of the township. “Last December, there were two bride deaths in Salt Lake. One woman was allegedly burnt by her in-laws, while the other was a case of poisoning,” a police officer said. In most cases, the wives are being tortured for dowry or property-related feuds.

The police feel that in many cases, the problem can be sorted out by providing expert advice to the estranged couples, rather than taking legal recourse, including arrests. Once a problem is taken to court, “there is almost no chance of reconciliation. So, this organisation will provide counselling to estranged couples before the fight is taken to court,” police officers said.

Couples who seek counselling will have to apply to the organisation. A week’s complaints will be compiled and then placed before the panel of experts, who will assess each case and call the applicants for a hearing. If required, other family members, too, may be summoned to the hearings. The organisation will have its permanent office in Purta Bhavan and Bidhannagar North police station, both attached to the SDPO’s offices. The weekly sittings will be held there.

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