Andhra Pradesh

‘Abhay’ wins hearts, fulfils purpose

A woman thanking the police personnel who dropped her and her children at their home located on the outskirts of Ongole.   | Photo Credit: Kommuri Srinivas

Thirty-year-old Sridevi was clueless about how to reach her home in the remote M. Nidamanuru village in Prakasam district after arriving at the bus station here in the dead of night after a visit to Nellore for medical treatment for her ailing mother.

On seeing a poster prominently displayed at the bus station by the Prakasam police, she dialled ‘100’ and, in no time, a patrol vehicle from the Ongole Taluka police station reached the bus station.

Ms. Sridevi was a bit hesitant on boarding the police vehicle initially. After some reassuring talk by the woman police personnel, she got into the vehicle and reached her home safely.

Similar was the experience of P. Sirisha, a 36-year-old woman from Kesarajukunta. After reaching Ongole in the late hours from Guntur, where she had gone to consult a neurologist for her sick daughter, she was perplexed on how to reach her home safely.

Unwilling to take an autorickshaw, she called the integrated command control centre, and the ‘Abhay’ vehicle headed by CI K. Lakshman came in a few minutes to drop her home on the outskirts of the city, where autorickshaws ruled the roost in the absence of city bus services.

Superintendent of Police Siddharth Kaushal, who launched the novel service between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the wake of the brutal rape and murder of a veteranarian in Hyderabad, told The Hindu that the aim was to instil a sense of security among women and avoid incidents of crime against them.

Initially, women had inhibitions on boarding the police vehicles. But now, they are availing of the service without any hesitation impressed by the conduct of the trained police personnel.

Network of vehicles

A network of police vehicles stationed at the 66 police stations, 10 Rakshak vehicles and 12 patrol vehicles plying on the National Highways in the district have been linked to a special monitoring cell at the police headquarters through radio network.

The personnel were provided with body-worn cameras and GPS equipment, and the whole process was monitored online from the police control room to ensure transparency and accountability, and intervene whenever necessary, added the SP while overseeing the running of the service.

All the police stations and patrol vehicles spread across the 18,000 sq km area were brought under one single radio network, and the Abhay service was popularised by putting flexi banners at vantage points.

There was no laid down systems and procedures for the service as it was a first-of-its-kind initiative, Special Branch CI N. Srikanth Babu, who monitors the functioning of the control room, explained.

GPS trackers

In view of limited availability of four-wheelers, the service was modified to ‘Escort Home’ service. “The trained personnel wearing body-worn cameras are monitored live from the police control room through the GPS-based trackers to ensure that the process is smooth,” he said.

There has been a reduction in crime against women at night time after introduction of the service in December 2019, according to the data compiled by the District Crimes Record Bureau.

While there were 17 crimes against women in four categories (rape, outraging modesty, eve-teasing, POCSO cases) reported at night time in November 2019, the number had come down to 10 in December 2019.

Even in relative terms, out of the total crimes against women in the above categories in November, 33% (17 out of 52) occurred at night time whereas in December, only 22% (10 out of 47) occurred at night time.

The Abhay service has so far been availed of by 435 women since its inception.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 2:21:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/abhay-wins-hearts-fulfils-purpose/article30694261.ece

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