Lucknow: Is the much-hyped 1090 women's helpline, meant to check obscene calls, SMSes and MMSes, set for closure a year after being launched by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav? It would seem so, given the bureaucratic apathy to the project.

More than 50 percent calls made by women in distress go unattended due to dearth of facilities, enquiries have revealed. The scheme was appreciated by many, including film actor Aamir Khan, who visited the helpline office last year and lauded the concept and the functioning of the cell.

In its second phase, the helpline was supposed to deal with all internet-related harassment, including posting of fake profiles on social networking sites. Sources in the helpline said that in the past two months, the helpline has not been able to attend to anywhere between 52 to 55 per cent of the calls it receives largely owing to the lack of physical space and manpower.

"We do not have the space to expand despite the fact that a lot of rooms are available at the place we operate from," said a woman police officer, ruling that many women in distress must be disappointed as they "are not able to get across to us".

Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Naveneet Sikera, the officer heading the helpline, has written many letters to the state home department on the "urgent need to expand beyond the existing structure" to keep the women helpline functioning but his missives have fallen on deaf ears, sources said.

The present state of the helpline is in sharp contrast to the assurance of Akhilesh Yadav, who while launching the scheme on the Bhaiyya Dyuj festival last year, had directed police officers to "ensure that the motive behind the helpline was met and that no technical snag affected its functioning".

Billed as Akhilesh bhaiyya's gift to his sisters in distress, the helpline became a rage in the first few months as it logged over 200,000 calls. While a majority of the calls were attended to at the initial level of counseling when specially trained women police officers told the callers not to make obscene calls, in some cases the culprits were arrested.

Most women organisations and individuals had given the thumbs up to the project. But with the state government officials cold-shouldering the requirements of the project and Akhilesh Yadav busy with other better things, a giant leap towards stopping harassment of women seems in for an early sunset.


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