Misleading claim: ‘1091’ & ‘7837018555’ are pan-India helpline numbers for women home-drop service

On December 4, author Harinder S Sikka tweeted, Police has launched free ride scheme where any women who is alone & not able to find vehicle to get home between 10pm-6am can call helpline numbers (1091 & 7837018555) 24×7. PCR vehicle will drop her home Free of Cost. Pls pass this message to all.”

On December 4, Bhojpuri actor Poonam Dubey posted, “Police launched free ride scheme where any women who is alone & not able to find a vehicle to get home at nights between 10pm-6am can call the police helpline numbers (1091 and 7837018555) & request for a vehicle. They will work 24×7. The control room vehicle or nearby PCR vehicle/SHO vehicle will come & drop her safely to her destination. This will be done FREE of cost. Pass this message to everyone you know” on her verified Facebook page.

Some people have modified the message by mentioning a state or city police in the text. For instance, Stella Yuva Mandal, a Facebook page, posted, “New Govt. ordered for police Maharashtra Police launched free ride scheme where any women who is alone & not able to find a vehicle to get home at nights between 10pm-6am can call the police helpline numbers (1091 and 7837018555) & request for a vehicle. They will work 24×7. The control room vehicle or nearby PCR vehicle/SHO vehicle will come & drop her safely to her destination. This will be done FREE of cost. Pass this message to everyone you know. Kindly save the number.”

Ashish Nazare tweeted, “Nagpur Police launched free ride scheme where any women who is alone & not able to find a vehicle to get home at nights between 10pm-6am can call the police helpline numbers (1091 and 7837018555) & request for a vehicle. They will work 24×7. @NagpurPolice.”

Subsequently, several people have shared similar claims associated with the helpline numbers ‘1091’ and ‘7837018555′  on Twitter and Facebook. Since then, Alt News has received several requests on WhatsApp to verify the messages.

Half-truth causes chaos

In this article, Alt News will fact-check which states or districts have started the home-drop service for women and what are their helpline numbers.

Fact-check 1: Places where ‘1091’ and ‘7837018555’ are valid

Alt News did a keyword search on Google of “1091 and 7837018555” and found a report from December 2 in The Tribune which includes a statement from Ludhiana commissioner of police Rakesh Agrawal, “We have started many programmes to ensure the safety and security of women in Ludhiana. We have two dedicated helpline numbers, 1091 and 7837018555, for women. These are open 24×7. Women can dial these numbers to get a free ride to home in Ludhiana.”

Another report by NDTV states that Ludhiana police, Punjab is offering free rides to women unable to find a cab from 10 pm to 6 am throughout the year. The official website of Ludhiana police mentions both the numbers as women’s helpline.

Most viral texts are promoting misleading information as it implies that home-drop service is introduced across India. However, they do not mention that ‘7837018555’ is valid only in Ludhiana.

On December 5, Punjab police shared an article by Times of India in a tweet which said, “Over 3000 calls have been received on the women helpline no. of @Ludhiana_Police inquiring about the facilities of dropping home at night. These calls were not just from the city residents but also from outside Punjab.”

A 2016 notification by the ministry of communication and information technology allocated ‘1091’ (women’s helpline) for SMS-based service to all states and UTs. However, the same has not been implemented pan-India. A list of all the women’s helpline numbers functional across states and UTs was found on the website of NARI (national repository of information for women) under the ministry of women and child development. ‘1091’ is not valid in several states such as Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, among others. It is also not valid in the UT of Andaman and Nicobar.

Fact-check 2: Which other states or districts offer the police home-drop service?

Chandigarh police website states, ‘In case any lady is out of her place of stay late at night and is unable to avail a taxi, auto, cab, etc. to reach her place of stay safely, then she may call the PCR at No. 100 or 0172-2749194 or 0172-2744100. The PCR shall send its vehicle to safely drop the lady to her place of stay within Chandigarh.’

Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted on December 3, “Women in Punjab can avail free police help to reach their homes safely anytime between 9 PM-6 AM. This facility will be available via-100, 112 & 181 through which you will be connected to Police Control Room. For an added sense of security, a lady officer will also accompany you.” On December 3, the directorate of information and public relations in Punjab posted a press note by CM Singh confirming his statement. 

On December 4, Nagpur City Police tweeted, “We are providing “HOME-DROP” facility for the Safety and Security of Women: Any woman who is alone/stranded, with no means to go home, between 9 pm – 5 am, would be safely escorted by us till her home, FREE of Cost. DIAL 100 or 1091 or 07122561103. #NagpurPolice #AlwaysThere4U.”

On December 5, a New Indian Express report said, “The Hyderabad Police have started deploying women for patrolling and handling women-related issues. These teams, called ‘Women on Wheels’ (WoW), patrol the city on bikes. As a pilot project, the Women on Wheels will pick up and drop women based on calls to Dial 100. This will be done in coordination with SHE Teams.”

A Hindustan Times report published the same day states, Andhra Pradesh started a pilot of the programme named ‘Abhay’ in the Prakasham district on the night of December 4. The state has assigned eight four-wheelers and 70 two-wheelers for the service. The report also states, “Each of the eight four-wheelers is manned by a driver and a woman police officer armed with a body camera and a walkie-talkie, ready to be dispatched once an SOS call is received on number 100 between 9 pm and 5 am. Four of these vehicles are currently located in the Ongole city, two in Chirala and one each in Kandukur and Markapur towns.”

On December 6, Ahmedabad Police tweeted, “Ahmedabad Police started this initiative on #WomensDay back in March 2018. In case any lady is unable to get a taxi, auto at night. Feel free to Dial 100. We will send our vehicle to safely drop them at home. #SafetyFirst #Police4Public”

In the wake of the recent Hyderabad rape incident, several states and districts have started home-drop services for women. Alt News will update this article as and when other administrations implement the service. For now, the facility is available in Punjab, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Andhra Pradesh. The ‘1091’ number has been allocated to multiple states where women can call when in distress such as in cases of domestic violence. Certain police departments have also advertised ‘1091’ as the number to request home-drop. However, ‘7837018555’ is a Ludhiana-specific number. The complete list of women’s helpline emergency numbers for individual states can be accessed on the NARI website.

Readers should further note that a single emergency helpline number (112) was launched this year, integrating the police (100), fire (101), health (108) and women’s helpline (1091) numbers. Access to 100, 101 and 102 numbers are restricted (these are the services to be accessible at least within local area); access to 108 and 181 (launched in December 2012 as per a report in The Hindu Business Line) has been defined as unrestricted (these are the services, which shall be accessible from anywhere, national or international).

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