The Karnataka government on Thursday set up "Sahaya Vahini" - a dedicated 24-hour helpline to protect women and ensure their safety and security by reaching out to them at the earliest across the state.
"With hunting facility for quick response, the helpline 1091 will be available to the public, especially women and girls, to lodge complaint, seek help, information and alert police against any form of attack on them by anyone," Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka told reporters in Bangalore.
Admitting that the heinous December 16 gang-rape in New Delhi and the nationwide outrage against it had hastened the need for such a facility, Ashoka, who also holds charge of the home department, said citizens, particularly women and girls, can dial the dedicated number for any kind of help or assistance any time round the clock.
"Any affected woman or girl can reach the police and seek help or information in Kannada, Hindi or English. In the event of any attack or assault on any women, girls or even minors, our personnel will take the complaint and alert the jurisdictional police station for quick response, including medical assistance," he assured.
For attending to complaints in quick time or provide help for the affected, the state government is also creating the required infrastructure support.
"As our police force has the highest number of motorcycles and Hoysala jeeps for patrolling and investigations and are equipped with wireless devices for effective communication, efforts will be made to ensure they respond to any complaint or help will be equally in quick time," Ashoka said.
To augment the police force, the state government has recently recruited about 3,000 people for the post of constables, inspectors and security personnel across the state.
"In addition, about 2,000 people will be selected and trained for deploying them as industrial security force to secure vital installations and provide protection to the workforce, including women and children," said the minister.
Noting that all calls to the helpline will be recorded and complaints or queries will be relayed to other police stations on real-time basis for quick and coordinated response, Ashoka said taxis/cabs and other types of vehicles ferrying women/girls to workplace in the IT & biotech sectors and back, especially during the graveyard shift, will have to install global positioning system (GPS) within the next 30 days to track and locate them in the event of any complaint against their drivers or others in the vehicles.
"As safety and security of women, girls, and minors is our primary concern, we are doing our best to instill confidence among them and create a fear element among perpetrators so as to reduce crimes against them with zero tolerance," he said.
Reiterating that a high-level committee comprising senior officials of home and law departments will deal with the pending cases of sexual abuse against women, Ashoka said the accused would be booked under the Goonda Act for stringent action and speedy investigation of such criminal acts.
"Strict action will be taken against police officials who delay or refuse to register cases by women against anyone, however mighty. We will set timeframes for the speedy investigation, trial, conviction and sentencing that will act as a deterrent for others," he added.
Police have directed owners/landlords renting out or providing paying guest (PG) accommodation to girl students, working women or singles to furnish their details at the jurisdictional police station for compiling the data as a ready reckoner.
The state government's response came a day after the state's lone woman cabinet minister, Shobha Karandlaje, wrote to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Wednesday seeking stringent laws against crimes on women.