#India -The Bitter Truth Regarding Delhi Police’s Womens’ Help-Line #Vaw #Justice

January 5, 2013
by , at kafila.org

An Account by An Activist.

Guest Post by Kavita, Stree Mukti League
Translated from Hindi by Shuddhabrata Sengupta

It would be natural to expect that in the wake of the barbaric Delhi gang-rape of December 16 and subsequent popular upsurge of anger the police and the state machinery would betray a modicum of sensitivity and alertness. The reality is just the opposite of what you expect. We have heard this from many women in the past few days, and a few evening’s ago, came face to face with this sad fact ourselves.

For the last few days, we (activists of the Stree Mukti League) have been going to different places in Delhi to hold meetings, demonstrations and to distribute leaflets against sexual violence. The leaflet has a contact phone number for the Stree Mukti League. Since the evening of the 1st of January this year a perverted male individual has been continuously ringing that number, abusing us, threatening us, using obscene and unprintable language. He even said ‘I know all you girls, and you cannot escape me. What I will do to you will terrify people…’, and several other things which cannot be repeated.

There is no question of us being scared of these threats. We have come on to the streets to fight sexual violence and patriarchy and we are not going to be scared off the streets by this kind of abusive ranting. Yes, patriarchal expressions such as these are repulsive, but what is much more disturbing, indeed shocking, is the conduct of the Delhi Police. We find it necessary to share with all of you what happened to us when we drew the attention of the Police to these calls. That is why I am outlining below a brief sketch of the facts of what happened.

On January 1, at 6:46 pm in the evening I received a phone call from the number 8505898894. The caller (whom I have talked of above) started abusing and threatening me using very obscene language. I cut the phone, and then he called again and said more, which was much worse than what he had said before. This continued, at intervals of every two to three minutes, from then onwards(around a quarter to seven) for roughly five and a half hours, till after midnight, till 1: 08 am.

In the middle, we tried to call the number that was harassing us, but the obscene and threatening caller hung up on us. Once, when he called at 8:46 pm, I told him that we had complained to the police about him and that his call would be traced. Hearing this, he cursed us. He did not stop calling, till late into the night.

The Helplessness of the Helpline

After several attempts, finally, we were able to get through to the new Delhi police helpline number 181 at 9:03 pm that night. The person at the other end of the line at 181 told us that our complaint has been filed, but that they were not in a position to give us a tracking number for ‘follow up’ on the complaint. To obtain this number, we were told to call at 12 pm the following day. Upon insistence,  we were given another two numbers – 27891666 and 1096. We were told that we could try calling on these two numbers ( 27891666 and 1096) We called several times on 1096 (the dedicated helpline number for reporting stalkers and obscene callers) but each time we got a message that we had reached an ‘invalid’ number. Finally, at 9:11 pm, we got through to 297891666, (the other number that we had been given by the policeman) and we were given a complaint tracking number – 36A-1. Despite this, the obscene and threatening calls from 8505898894 continued. Sickened by this continuing harassment, I tried calling again on 181. I got through once. But the person who received the phone cut the call without letting me finish what I was saying. I tried calling 181 several times after that, but no one picked up the phone.

The next morning, I called 181 at 9:17 am and 9:18 am. But there was no response. Finally, I called the chief public relations officer of Delhi Police, Rajan Bhagat, at 9:30 am on his mobile number. I told him all that had happened and gave him the complaint tracking number that I had been given the night before. I told him that I am a social activist and a journalist. He told me that I should register a complaint on 1096 and give him the complaint number. Subsequently, I called 1096 from three different phones but I still got the ‘invalid number’ message. When I called Rajan Bhagat again to tell him that this is what had happened, he shrugged the matter off by sang that what I was saying was simply not possible. When I told him that I had already filed a complaint last night, and that I had given him the complaint number, and asked why he could not follow up on the basis of last night’s complaint, he cut the phone.

Then I went to the Delhi Police website and looked up an ‘alternative number’ for the 1096 helpline number. This ‘alternative number’ is 27894455. When I called this number, I got through to a police-woman. She was the same lady who I had spoken to when I called the number (297891666) that I was given by the person manning 181 the previous evening. She told me that the process of ‘number tracing’ could take 2-3 days, because the police has to send an email to the phone company, and the phone company takes time to respond, etc., etc. She also said that in most cases all it takes for the harassment to cease is a ‘scold’ from the police, but there is a special class of ‘mean’ (‘kaminey’) and ‘rare’ type of scoundrels who persist, and that ‘your caller’ seems to be of that variety.

I told everyone from Rajan Bhagat (Chief PRO, Delhi Police) to the police-woman who spoke to me that the man who is harassing us has threatened us with violence, and that he has stated that he would attack us because we complained against him. I asked whether the police would act only once something terrible actually happened. We, the activists of Stree Mukti League are on the streets everyday, agitating on this issue, and this man says he knows who we are, that he recognizes us and he is threatening us. But the police do not seem to be taking us seriously, all they do is offer empty assurances.

We want to know whether any woman in Delhi can feel safe if this is the state of Delhi Police’s effectiveness, even after the death of the woman who was gang-raped on the 16th of December. This is what the state of the sensitivity of the Delhi Police is, even after massive public outcry. Can Sonia Gandhi and Shiela Dikshit see the reality of how the machinery that they run functions through the mist of their crocodile tears? Savage, perverted, bestial men still wander free of fear and women cannot even register their complaints. If this is the case when a social activist and independent journalist makes a compaint, imagine what would be the case when the complainant is an ordinary woman, a common citizen. On the other hand, the telephone-assaulter is getting bolder. He kept calling, even on the 4th of January.

Kavita, Stree Mukti League

NOTE : It costs money to call all these ‘helplines’ Why are they not free? If a woman who is poor is continually harassed, must she keep spending money on endless phone calls to try and get relief from that harassment ?

(Update , January 5, 2013 : Even after talking to people on all the police helplines and the chief PRO, all that we have been told is that the police now has the ‘call details’ of the phone-stalker, but they still do not know who is making the calls. When questioned further, the police personnel inevitably cut the call, saying they are busy, in court, or in the field. Eventually, the policewoman taking calls at the ‘alternative helpline number’ did refer me to the local police station. And a policeman from the local police station came to meet me in the afternoon. The seriousness with which he noted the complaint was evident from the fact that he did not have a carbon paper with him that would enable him to give me a carbon copy of the compaint. When I asked for a copy with his signature, he evaded the question, saying ‘why are you worried, a complaint has been filed, at the most you can get a photocopy done of this piece of paper.’ Subsequently, when I have called the local police station to know what progress there is in the case, I am told, what more do you want – a complaint has been filed, the ‘call details’ are with us, we just don’t know his address. Meanwhile, the man who has been harassing me continues to call and threaten me.)

[ This text was first published, in Hindi, on January 2, 2013 the author’s blog – ‘Der Raat ke Raag’ and on Sanhati. An update was published on the author’s blog on January 5, 2013. This translation combines the content of the earlier post and the update.  ]


#India’s Cash course- will it succeed ?

As the government gets ready to roll out its ambitious cash transfer of subsidies scheme on January 1, an on-the-ground report on how the experiments are working outVeenu Sandhu, Santosh Tiwari & Indulekha Aravind / New Delhi/ Bangalore

Dec 08, 2012, 00:10 IST , Buisness Standard

M B Chinnappa, chief manager of State Bank of Mysore, has been rushing from one meeting to another. It’s his job to ensure that by December 15, at least one member of each of the 535,000 households in Mysore district has a bank account. The account will be linked to his unique identity number, Aadhaar, and subsidies for different welfare schemes will be transferred directly to the account from January 1. For Chinnappa, the challenge is to make sure that over 200,000 accounts are opened in a little over a week in the 360 bank branches in the district. “Efforts have been launched on a war footing and I’m sure we will meet the target,” says Chinnappa, before rushing off to his next appointment at the Akashvani station where he is scheduled to give an interview on the subject which will be broadcast all over Karnataka.

Men like Chinnappa have been galvanised into action for what is being seen as the biggest governance reform of recent times: transfer of subsidies directly to the poor and needy. The spin doctors of the United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, have begun to call it a game changer — something that will help it overcome the negativity generated by recent scams before the 2014 general elections. The political overtures of the tagline leave nothing to the imagination: Aapka paisa aapke haath (Your money in your hand; the Congress’s election symbol is the hand).

Ever since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced at Dudu in Rajasthan on October 20, in the presence of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, that the scheme would soon be unveiled, his office has worked overtime to ensure that it is launched in 51 districts on January 1, 2013, and the entire country by April 1, 2014. The real force behind the initiative is none other than Rahul Gandhi.

The starting point was the observation made by his father, the late Rajiv Gandhi, that only 15 paisa out of every rupee given in subsidy reaches the poor. From the government, it is being piloted by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. He is supported by Finance Minister P Chidambaram who had, when he was home minister, raised serious doubts about the Aadhaar drive. Singh’s principal secretary, Pulok Chaterji, a bureaucrat known to be close to the Gandhis, is coordinating between the various agencies.

Nandan Nilekani, the Infosys promoter and honcho who left the corporate world to head the Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, is overseeing the Aadhaar rollout. That’s actually the real challenge. The Aadhaar numbers currently stand at 220 million, about 18 per cent of the country’s population. And about 40 per cent of these enrollments have come from just two states: Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Nilekani’s job is to enroll another 400 million by April 2014 in 16 states (the rest of the country will be covered by the home ministry in its National Population Register), or about 25 million a month.

Recent numbers aren’t encouraging. At the most, UIDAI has done 24.7 million enrollments in a month (January this year). In the last four months, enrollments have ranged from 5.31 million to 11.6 million a month. In at least half of the 51 districts that will go live with cash transfers from January 1, the target of 80 per cent Aadhaar penetration is yet to be achieved.

To begin with, the government plans to put 29 social schemes on cash transfer mode. These include payments of wages and pensions. The first pilot was run in four districts of Jharkhand a year ago; wages under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme were put into the bank accounts of more than 3,500 beneficiaries using their Aadhaar numbers. In Aurangabad, Maharashtra, pensions under five social-security schemes are now paid on the basis of Aadhaar. Another pilot for pensions is running in Tripura. That’s the easy bit. The tough part will be fuel, food and fertiliser subsidies. The first of these will be fuel subsidy: kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG.

* * *

Kotkasim, a block of 24 villages in Alwar district of Rajasthan, some 180 km south of Delhi, is where the pilot on kerosene is being carried out. Since last December, ration shops here no longer sell kerosene at the subsidised price of Rs 15 a litre; it’s sold at Rs 50 a litre (the price was recently raised from Rs 45 a litre). The difference is put into the bank accounts of the people by the government. There are 25,000 ration-cards in Kotkasim. Those with two LPG cylinders were told that they are not entitled to subsidised kerosene. Finally, 20,000 eligible beneficiaries were identified. Those with a gas connection could buy two litres of kerosene, and those without could buy three litres. As many as 14,000 new bank accounts were opened. The subsidy for the next three months, which ranged from Rs 175 to Rs 263, was deposited in each account. Subsequent subsidy would be deposited into the accounts of only those ration-card holders who buy the kerosene from the ration shops.

Kerosene, admit both the shopkeepers and ration-card holders, was being sold in bulk to anybody who came armed with ration cards. At Rs 15 a litre, it was much cheaper than diesel (around Rs 42 a litre) and was used to run generators, water pumps and, as one dealer claims, even tractors after mixing it with diesel. Not every family in this rather well-to-do area needed three litres of kerosene a month and would willingly lend their ration cards to proxy buyers, for a cut of course. The difference between the market price and the subsidised one was a huge incentive for shopkeepers to divert supplies. Most succumbed to the temptation.

The year-old pilot project has, however, put an end to this. “Kerosene sale in the area, which was about 84,000 litres a month a year ago, has plunged by nearly 70 per cent,” says Alwar District Collector Ashutosh A T Pednekar with evident satisfaction. This, he claims, has happened because leakages have stopped and the black market has disappeared. Shopkeepers and buyers, on their part, say many poor people can’t afford to buy kerosene any longer. Maybe they’ve found some other use for the money, though liquor shops and sweetmeat sellers haven’t seen any noteworthy rise in demand. People also blame the administration, saying it doesn’t deposit the money on time in their accounts.

There are other problems too. Dharamvir Singh Chaudhary has been running a ration shop in Kotkasim for 13 years. Till last year, he would get 1,800 litre of kerosene a month and every drop of it would get sold. His commission was 90 paisa a litre. Now, he has to buy kerosene at Rs 50 but the commission remains the same, 90 paisa. This has seriously cut his return on investment. “Initially, the district supply officer gave each dealer a cheque of Rs 3,000 to compensate for this sudden burden, but we’ve got nothing since then. On top of that, I’m straddled with this,” he says pointing to the 220-litre drum of kerosene lying in the courtyard in front of his shop. “The government is forcing us to buy it and stock it.”

Last month, after much resistance, Chaudhary bought two drums (440 litre) for Rs 22,000 from the supply van. “The inspector said if I don’t stock it, my licence as dealer would be cancelled,” he says, calling it blackmail. He then decided to pass on this “burden” to the people who came to buy ration from his shop. “We [the shopkeepers] told them that if they wanted to buy wheat from our shops, they would have to first buy kerosene,” he admits, adding that he managed to “get rid of” one drum between 90 ration-card holders. Nirmala Devi, another shopkeeper, wants her commission to be raised from 90 paisa a litre to Rs 5-6.

Beneficiaries make numerous visits to the designated banks (State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Rajasthan Gramin Bank) to find out if the subsidy has come into their accounts. But there are others, daily-wage earners, who cannot afford to make even one trip. The villages in Kotkasim are spread out; some are 17 km away from the bank. One trip to the bank would mean a day’s work gone, a day’s wages (Rs 150-300) lost.

Sensing a business opportunity, a team from Vodafone has been visiting Kotkasim to study the feasibility for mobile-banking solutions. Teams from Kerala and Chhattisgarh too have descended on Kotkasim to study its cash transfer model. The verdict: the administration is satisfied, shopkeepers are hassled and consumers confused.

* * *

Several hundred miles to the south, in Mysore, another pilot was launched in January this year for the targeted delivery of LPG cylinders using Aadhaar: gas connections will be linked to the Aadhaar number. In the next phase, consumers will be given the subsidy directly in their banks. The district was chosen for its high Aadhaar enrollment rate — till last month, 94.8 per cent of the total population of 2.99 million had enrolled. Three gas agencies have been chosen for the experiment, one each of state-owned IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.

At his swank IndianOil agency in Vani Vilas Market, Vinod Maroli says he has delivered close to 18,000 cylinders so far in this manner. (The agency has over 25,000 customers.) The new delivery mechanism has helped check diversion to the black market, says Maroli. Due to the streamlining of the process, the number of days a customer has to wait for a new cylinder has gone down from seven to two. Tellingly, the number of cylinders the agency delivers has also reduced, though Maroli cannot say by how much. “But the fact that there has been a 40 per cent dip in product movement across the country should give you an idea of the scale,” he says.

An IndianOil executive, requesting anonymity, says the results have been encouraging. “We have established that the first phase [the delivery of cylinders via Aadhaar biometric identification] works, so now we have to test the next stage,” he says. All three agencies have delivered around 40,000 cylinders that were Aadhaar-verified since the scheme was launched in January, he says, and subsidy transfers have already taken place in small groups. At the moment, all agencies in the district have been asked to focus on ensuring their customers have Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, he adds. From January, the project will go live. The first phase seems to have gone off without glitches. The next phase is the acid test.

However confident State Bank of Mysore’s Chinnappa may be, it will be no mean task to ensure that over 200,000 people open bank accounts in the space of a week. Many feel that the deadline could well be postponed. At the food and civil supplies department, the overseeing authority for LPG cylinders, officials are unclear about the next phase of the Aadhaar pilot, saying they are yet to receive any kind of official notification of the January 1 rollout. “Whatever we know is from what we read in the newspapers,” says one of them.



Ration shop dealers demand withdrawal of cash transfer scheme #AADHAAR #UID

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


 7 DEC, 2012,PTI


NEW DELHI: Ration shop dealers today threatened to go on strike demanding that direct cash transfer scheme should be withdrawn, and accused the government of being lethargic in strengthening the food distribution system.



The All India Fair Price Shop Dealers’ Federation said it would close down various rations shops across the country for one day on December 11, which would have an adverse impact on farmers.



The Federation has written to Union Minister K V Thomas intimating him about their intention to go on strike.



“We demand immediate withdrawal of Cash Transfer scheme. This scheme will not only ruin ration shops across the country but will completely destroy the public distribution system of the country.



“They (government) should strengthen the existing public distribution system across the country so that each and every member of BPL and APL families gets food to eat,” general secretary of the Federation, Biswambhar Basu, said.



The government proposes to roll-out the Aadhaar-enabled cash transfer for 29 schemes from January 1 in 51 districts, spread over 16 states. It also plans to cover the entire nation by the end of December 2013. Later, cash transfer would cover 42 welfare schemes.







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