Real-Time Railway Helpline for Women launched in Mumbai

Mumbai: The railway police on Monday launched the Nirbhaya helpline, an exclusive WhatsApp Number where women commuters can send complaints, pictures and videos on women safety and related issues to make catching culprits easier.

The number 9833312222 has been linked to a network of computers at the Police Headquarters’ Control Room and will be manned 24×7. The data would be monitored on a computer.

GRP Commissioner Ravindra Singhal said that the WhatsApp number would put a face to any crime as commuters had the advantage of uploading photos/videos of perpetrators unlike ordinary numbers. “The advantage of the WhatsApp helpline is that a woman who might have been harassed at Thane can send us a SMS or photo on this number along with details like where the train is headed next so that we can catch her, try and get the evidence and catch those responsible immediately,” said Mr Singhal.

“We are trying our best. We have a wide network so this WhatsApp number will be more of new age technology to help us catch culprits,” he added.

On Monday, there were more than 150 messages, while the control room was being set up at Sandhurst Road. “Commuters welcomed the move, some sent messages to verify and many others congratulated,” a senior railway police official said.

Not so long ago, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu also announced a Nationalized Security Number 192 to be introduced soon.

The Nirbhaya helpline will be in addition to the regular helpline number that will continue to be in service for all kinds of complaints.

“There have been several WhatsApp numbers and other such apps. We will test this function and see how the police respond before commenting,” said Vandana Sonawane, a woman commuter and activist.

“We can alert the local police teams immediately in case we are informed on time. Even otherwise, the images and videos can be crucial evidence,” the official added.

“The idea is to be proactive and allow women commuters to come forward to complain if they come across anything inappropriate. It has now become easy to transmit images and videos live in real-time. This is where we can be of help immediately. This is what Nirbhaya helpline is all about,” said Ravinder Singal, the railway police commissioner. “There are chain-snatchings, pickpockets, mobile thieves and other antisocial elements on railway networks. We require commuters’ eyes to track them down. This is where the helpline number will be useful,” said Rupali Ambure, deputy commissioner of railway police.