'Hello! This is Delhi Police calling'
By Alok Singh, New Delhi, Feb 3 : "Hello, I'm calling from Delhi Police. Is the investigation officer properly coordinating your case?" Don't be suirprised if you receive such a call. It could be from one of the area deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) or joint commissioners of police seeking feedback on your complaint.
In rare cases, a special commissioner, just one step below the police chief, could also call.
These are among the systemic changes in the much-maligned Delhi Police following the mass outrage over the Dec 16, 2012, gang-rape in Delhi.
In this initiative, top police officers will make calls when the crimes relate to murder, kidnapping, attempt to murder and robbery.
But topping the agenda continues to be crimes against women, including rapes.
"The move was started in the wake of complaints against the investigating officers of not giving proper consideration to cases filed by the victims or their family members," a senior police officer told IANS.
The calls from the top cops started after Jan 16 - a month after the young physiotherapist was gang-raped by six males. The woman died Dec 29 in a Singapore hospital where she had been airlifted for specialised treatment.
The top cops generally ask for the status of the complaints and about the behaviour of the investigating officer, or IO as he is generally called, while dealing with the case.
"The calls are not made every day. But certain heinous cases, including violence against women, are our top priority," another officer told IANS.
According to Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat, "It is a feedback exercise which is being conducted by the district police heads and officers with the rank of special commissioner of police."
"It is the duty of the investigating officers to complete the procedure and to file the first information report (FIR) in time. They also have to address the grievances of the complainants," Bhagat told IANS.
"We first send to the complainants a feedback form and if they are not satisfied with the investigations, we phone them and assist them," Deputy Commissioner of Police Sindhu Pillai told IANS.
Delhi Police had faced public anger over the Dec 16 gang-rape and murder of the 23-year-old woman. It forced the police to take several women-related initiatives to make them feel safe on the roads.
Said 22-year-old college student Gyatri Sinha (name changed) who had registered a case against a man who was harassing her: "Suddenly one day, I got a call from a police officer on my phone. He asked me about the status of the case and about the behviour of the police officer who is dealing with my case."
"I was surprised but I was happy too that a senior police officer is trying to find out whether my case is being given proper consideration," she added.
"This is a good way for an interface between police and public. Such initiatives create a kind of trust in the system. It will also help build a better image of the police," she added.
(Alok Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)