One of the key promises in the Aam Aadmi Party’s election manifesto, to establish mahila suraksha dals (MSD) across the city, received a formal go ahead from the Delhi government on Monday.
Officials said the government’s existing Awaaz Uthao project, which deals with issues related to women’s safety, will be re-launched as MSDs. “It has been decided that instead of creating a new project, the Awaaz Uthao Project initiated by the Delhi Government…will be renamed as mahila suraksha dal and will further be strengthened both in terms of composition and functioning,” the official said.
“The government aims to make the community an integral part of the initiative. These women’s security teams, however, would not be a parallel police force as envisaged by the AAP government. They will function like private security guards and will undertake safety audits to identify key security issues. They will also mobilise local police and administrative machinery to take appropriate action,” a senior government official said.
During a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary S K Srivastava, officials decided to set up at least 320 MSDs across the city. As a pilot project, the government will launch one MSD in each of the 11 districts of the city on August 10, the day of Raksha Bandhan. Under the project, MSDs will work at the grassroots level to address issues of women’s safety in public places. The MSDs would comprise a team of retired army personnel, representatives from the local community (both men and women) and local NGO representatives, officials said.
“It is envisaged that MSDs would act as an effective instrument of change in their respective communities and help bring about a marked improvement both in society’s mindset towards gender issues and the physical environment,” the official said.