Updated: Delhi police helpline: if your stalking case is not urgent, please press 1
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)
Citizens First: those are the two words at the top of the Delhi Police department’s website. An alternative could be: “first come, first served.”
I called the stalker line after receiving some text messages and telephone calls that made me feel unsafe. The upshot: a dispatcher routed my call to three police stations, none of which have a record of the complaint. Furthermore, it will take several days to get back to me with the results of any investigation. This is happening when the police are under intense criticism for not doing enough to prevent rape, harassment and assault, not to mention reports of their views on women. This latest incident was not an inspiring episode.
Here’s what happened:
April 28-29: I receive anonymous calls from different numbers on my mobile phone. I receive two text messages from one of the numbers. Here is what they said:
Jab ho jaye mohabbat to Dil sambhalta hai nahi,
Wapas lotne ka rasta milta hai nahi,
Koi lakh bhulaye apne Dil se magar,
Dil mein rehne wala Dil se nikalta nahi. Send of I LOVE YOU,
(It is difficult to control the heart when you fall in love,
Difficult to find a way back,
As much as one may try to erase
One who lives in the heart, does not leave. Send of I LOVE YOU,)
Aasu Nikale Teri to Aankhe Meri ho,
Dil Dharke Teri to Dharkan Meri Ho,
Khuda Kare ki Hum Dono ka Rishta Itani Ghahari Ho,
Ki Mere Bachche ki Ma Bane Aap
to Mehanat Meri Ho
(If the tears are yours, may the eyes be mine,
if your heart beats, may the beat be mine,
May god make our relation so deep,
that you be the mother of my child
due to my hard work (on you))
I call the Delhi police department’s women’s anti-stalking helpline. A constable takes my name, number and address. She says she will forward it to the local police station. I get no call back.
April 30: I call the helpline again. The operator tells me that my complaint “must have been forwarded to the relevant station. Please check with them.” She gives me the number for Model Town Police Station. The constable there says no one received a complaint the night before. She also said that I should be under the jurisdiction of the Maurice Nagar police station, which is 2.2 kilometers from where I live. The Model Town station is 600 meters away.
Maurice Nagar: no record, no luck. Call the Mukherjee Nagar station instead. That’s my jurisdiction, a constable tells me.
Mukherjee Nagar police station, 3.4 kilometers from my house: again, nothing. An officer tells me, “galti ho gayi hogi unse, aap aapni complaint to bataiyye” – “They might’ve have made a mistake, tell us what your complaint is about.” They ask me to register a complaint.
Sub-Inspector Subhash comes to my apartment to take a written report. He promises to give me a stamped complaint letter within two hours.
I call the women’s helpline again to complain about my report apparently going missing. The dispatcher refuses to tell me the name of the constable I spoke to the night before. She also won’t tell me her name. She says, “RTI kar lijiye. Naam nahi bata sakte kisi ka, dekhiye hum aapko apna naam to nahi bata saktey hain.” “File a Right to Information request. I cannot give you any names.” Right.
May 1: I call Sub-Inspector Subhash. He says he sent someone to deliver the complaint to my house hours ago, and is surprised it hasn’t reached me. He blames thin staffing. I asked for it to come before 2:30 p.m. because I had to leave after that. It arrived at 5 p.m.
May 2, 5:40 a.m.: The stalker calls nine times.
1 p.m.: I tell Subhash that I’m still getting calls and SMS messages. He says he filed the complaint, and that the department has four or five other complaints to work on as well. It will take four business days to handle mine, not the two that it was supposed to take. I ask him why: “Main busy tha, mere paas aur bhi kaam hain. Har cheez ka ek procedure hota hai. Main aapko accountable nahi hunh. Aur bhi behinein aur ma-ein hain jinki complaints hoti hain. Jab kuch ispe response aaega tab aapko bata denge.”
Or: “I was busy. I have other things to do as well. Everything has a procedure. I am not accountable to you. There are many other sisters and mothers whose complaints I have to look into. When there is a response on this, I will let you know.”
I call the station house officer to escalate the matter, and ask what they would do if that delay proved to be more than enough time for a stalker to pay me a visit in person. He echoes the bit about similar complaints. At this point, I’m sure that I want to write about this experience, so I tell him I’m a journalist and plan to write a story. He mumbles something about swift action and getting back to me A.S.A.P.
It took me 12 hours to get my complaint properly registered. I’m awaiting word from the police. The nasty and weird messages keep coming. Here are two more examples:
My Dear Girl Friend Good Morning. What are you Doing? I Love You. Mai aap se payar karta hu,
Sab se Pahle Use kis karo,
Phir Bed par Lita Do ,
Phir Tange Upar karke ,
Niche Hath Lagakar Dekho ,
Ager Bebi Ne Su kiya Hai to
Daipar Chenj kar do,
(First of all kiss her,
then lay her down on a bed
then after lifting her legs
put your hand under and see
If the baby has peed.
Change the diaper)
I can’t be the only person dealing with this kind of behaviour. And even though this may turn out to be a harmless prank, not every case may be so benign. If this is routine treatment, then it can hardly be a surprise to discover that people in India are still angry and that little has changed since last December.
UPDATE: They say it’s all about whom you know.
I called the police again after hearing nothing from the Mukherjee Nagar police station, and learned that there was no new information for me. Then, last Friday, a contact of a friend of mine forwarded my story to Neeraj Kumar, Delhi’s police commissioner.
That made a difference. I’ve received a bunch of calls, including from Special Commissioner TN Mohan. Someone from the women’s helpline then asked me for details about my complaint, which of course I’d given already.
I also got a call from Arti Sharma of the Crime Branch, who gave me her personal number and said that I could call her about anything regarding the enquiry into the calls and messages, which indeed has been initiated.
My main question now is: how would my situation look if I didn’t have a friend of a friend?