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Tripura opens toll-free helpline for women in distress

By The Assam Tribune

Agartala, March 15 (IANS): The Tripura Police, as part of its initiatives to curb rising atrocities and crimes against women, has launched a toll-free helpline for women in distress to lodge their complaints, an official said here on Saturday.

"The helpline (1091) would be operational 24 hours and anyone across the state can dial the number to seek help or alert the police about any incident relating to women or an imminent threat," a police spokesman told IANS.

He said: "Immediate action on receipt of calls would be taken by the control room by intimating concerned police stations or police officials. Counseling would also be provided to women through the helpline number, in case of need."

Two women police officers, one familiar with the Bengali language and the other speaking 'Kokborak', a tribal language, will attend to the complaints.

"The Tripura government has recently recruited 300 more women police constables and 50 women police officials and set up more all-women police stations to curb crimes against women," the police official said adding that with the new recruits, the percentage of women police personnel increased to 10 percent in the state.

Currently four all-women police stations are functioning in the state and one more would be started soon.

"Women help desks are operational in all the 70 police stations in the state," the police official said.

Crime against women in Tripura are rising. In 2011, 1,503 such cases were registered while the number went up to 1,650 in 2012 and 1,706 in 2013.

According to the National Crimes Record Bureau, Tripura ranks second after Assam in the number of crimes against women in northeast India.

Women's organisations believe that low conviction rate, lack of prompt action by police and victims shying from lodging complaints resulted in rise in such crimes.

According to the police official, the conviction rate of all types of crime in Tripura is 15 percent against the national average of over 42 percent.

Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, thousands of cases were registered in the past few years in Tripura. The state has a population of 3.7 million, of which nearly half are women.

Tripura Police Accountability Commission chairman A.B. Paul said the panel has suggested punitive action against erring policemen in cases of crime against women.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who holds the home portfolio, recently said Tripura was in the process of incorporating issues like crime against women and domestic violence in the school curriculum to sensitise students and help develop understanding between boys and girls.

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