The Department of Telecom allowed import of mobile phones without panic button or emergency calling feature till February 28, 2017. “…it has been decided by the competent authority that the import of mobile phone handsets without Panic Button/Emergency call button feature prescribed as per ‘Panic Button and Global Positioning System Facility in all mobile phone handsets Rules 2016…shall be allowed till 28th February 2017 wef 01.01.2017,” DoT said in an office memorandum.
The government in April 2016 mandated that all mobile phones in the country from January 1, 2017, will be sold with panic button feature. As per the order, pressing panic button will make a call to single emergency number 112.
Also, the government has mandated that from January 1, 2018, no mobile handset manufacturer shall sell new device in India without the facility of identifying the location through satellite-based GPS.
The concept of a device with panic button feature was floated after brutal gangrape of a paramedical student in Delhi. The Ministry of Finance approved a Nirbhaya Fund following the incident, under which integration of the police administration with mobile phone network to trace and respond to distress calls with minimum response time, was to be done.
Meanwhile, the trial run of ambitious helpline 112, that will be India’s equivalent to 911 of the US’s all-in-one emergency services, has been halted owing to numerous blank calls that were being received on the number, according to a senior police officer.