As the phone rings in the control room of the Delhi Police’s All-India Railway Helpline (1512), a police personnel picks up, expecting the call to be about a theft or snatching incident. Instead, the caller, who is from Rajasthan, complains about a power cut in his area.
Set up in 2015 to handle distress calls made by passengers, the helpline has been flooded with unrelated and spam calls ranging from advertisements about caller tunes, bank loans and tent houses, to people requesting mobile recharge or complaining about power cuts.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Railways) Parwaiz Ahmed said, “All these calls get connected to the railway helpline number, probably because of common digits or fault in some MTNL lines. We have written to MTNL to fix the issue.”
Sources said the control room at the New Delhi railway station handles over 400-450 calls every day. “But a majority of them are anonymous. We get calls from all over the country,” a source said. However, sources said that they also get genuine calls regarding thefts and snatching incidents.
Following the launch of the helpline, police had run an awareness drive through posters and billboards at various railway stations of Delhi and NCR.
During the first week of its launch, the helpline had received over 50 calls related to drugs, robberies and mobile thefts from various locations, including the NCR. Sources told The Indian Express that to make 1512 a common helpline like 100 (police helpline), the Centre had directed all states — including union territories — to set up control rooms in their headquarters so that complaints can be passed on quickly to the nearest railway police station.
Officials manning the helpline not only register complaints, but also inform the Government Railway Police present on trains, as well the local police station of the area.