Monday, Sep 26, 2022

Called 17,562 Times…: Himachal CM Helpline In Need Of ‘Help’ To Deal With Abusive Callers

The department has decided to put those callers under observation who make frequent calls

Representational Image/Unsplash

Can you imagine a person calling the chief minister‘s helpline – ‘Mukhya Mantri Sewa Sankalp’  17,562 times? The helpline started about a year back during the Covid lockdown for the benefit of the citizens.

The toll-free number 1100 is open to all citizens, within Himachal Pradesh or outside to register complaints and seek redressal of their grievances without visiting the government offices.

The initiative though has benefited hundreds of people, in distress, but it has made it easier for the miscreants to make obnoxious or personalised calls to the attendants, mostly the girls.

Five callers have been blocked by the state’s Department of Information Technology for making irrelevant, bogus and abusive calls. These callers have either misbehaved with the attendants or never had any complaint to register.

“This particular caller, who called for 17,562 since the inception of the service was kept under watch. His conversations were scrutinised by an internal call review committee. A decision was taken to block him, besides four others," said Ashutosh Garg, Director of Information Technology.

The persons whose numbers have been blocked also hail from chief minister’s home district Mandi. Others are from Kangra, Hamirpur, Una and Solan.

Garg says the department has prepared a policy to deal with emerging menace when the callers harass others without any valid reasons. The department will also lodge FIRs in those cases where the callers don't improve their conduct and continue to make calls despite first and second warnings.

Currently, some of the callers identified have made 400 to 3,704 calls in the past few months. The department has decided to put those callers under observation who make frequent calls - A few have made 40 to 263 calls in a single week.

They either don’t have any complaint to lodge or they use abusive language and personalised charges against the chief minister, ministers and government officials.

The genuine callers, however, who have grievances relating to water supply, electricity, roads, health services, Covid patients, traffic-related issues, employment and wage linked matters are attended. The complaints are forwarded to the concerned department and CM’s office and a dedicated cell has been set up to monitor these cases, says an official in the Chief Minister’s Office.

The total complaints lodged at the helpline since March 2020 are 1,80,565 of which 1,16,370 stand disposed of while about 13,700 are pending.