The Delhi Government was left red-faced on Monday as its much publicised three-digit helpline for women in distress ended in a damp squib. The helpline ‘181’ was a non-starter and the Government was quick to blame it on a “technical glitch”.

The special helpline number that was announced days after the gruesome gang-rape of a 23-year-old in a bus on December 16 was expected to start functioning on Monday. The Government had publicised that callers can reach the helpline number from MTNL landlines as well as mobile networks.

Though the Government maintained that the helpline would be functional by later afternoon, there was no response to calls The Hindu made to the number till as late as 7 p.m.

Following the furore over the brutal gang-rape and the subsequent death of the medical student in a Singapore hospital on Saturday, the Government had announced several measures to stem crimes against women, a dedicated helpline being one of them.

The helpline ‘181’ has been set up at Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s office at Delhi Secretariat and will be connected with all the 185 police stations across the city.

The Union Telecom Ministry had last week released the three-digit number following a request by the Delhi Government. It was initially decided to allot ‘167’ as the helpline number, but later changed to ‘181’ to ensure its easy recall.

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