A lot has been said about the UP police in the last couple of days. What has not been talked about is the fact that it isn’t the lack of intervention to address the pressing problem of police inefficiency in the state that plays out each time, but sometimes it is also in the dilettantism of interventions that do not cater to all the factors contributing to the inefficiency. In all states of India, the emergency “100” is used to reach the police station by citizens in dire times. The mechanism is decentralised to ensure that the district and police station involved in the concerned case according to the geography are the responders to it. However, the UP government ascertained that managing a large state with limited resources have compromised the functionality of the police force. To combat the lack of resources, which was deemed to be a primary reason of police inefficiency in the State, the initiative of UP100 was rolled out in 2016 by the then Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav.

So, how is UP100 different? Unlike its counterparts in other states, UP100 is a centralised emergency response system. Launched in partnership with Mahindra, the UP100 is an initiative where a centralised call centre was established in Lucknow and an all-women team of more than 700 communication officers were delegated the task of receiving distress calls. The officers are trained for two months to understand the situation and be an empathetic and calming presence on call to the complainant. All calls made within the State are directed to the call centre in Lucknow who takes the relevant details down and passes it on to the concerned police station. The idea was to reduce the response time, ensure that help reaches the citizens of the State within a window of 15 minutes in urban areas and a window of 20 minutes in rural areas. It was to streamline the process of taking information and pass it on to the stations and monitoring the progress of the concerned police station till the issue is resolved. The intervention would have resolved trade-offs that local police stations have to make to cater to all their responsibilities with resources which are far below adequate.

Every day, the call centre logs 1,20,000 distress calls. Since the launch of the intervention to January 2019, UP 100 has responded to 10,495,159 calls, of which 60 per cent came from rural areas. During that time, approximately 1,200 suicides were averted by the police by timely intervention. The data seems very pleasing with the number of calls logged each day but can we truly measure efficiency by the number of calls received per day? It is sure a fantastic start but the end product is still ambiguous, which is by what per cent has the law and order of the State improved since the intervention came into existence?

A media report sheds light to the heated debate triggered in the wake of Uttar Pradesh government’s claim of crime rates seeing a decline in the State in the last three years. A recent report released in 2019 by NCRB states that the state sees a rape every two hours, as per police reports while crime against a child is reported every 90 minutes in Uttar Pradesh.

Victims details under Crimes against Women During 2014-2019

Sl. No.

Crime Head

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total Number of Victims

Total Number of Victims

Total Number of Victims

Total Number of Victims

Total Number of Victims

Total Number of Victims

1

Murder with Rape/Gang Rape

*

 *

*

227

296

286

2

Dowry Deaths

8501

7646

7628

7838

7278

7162

3

Abetment to Suicide of Women

3747

4085

4485

5467

5266

5088

4

Miscarriage

48

66

587

268

216

222

5

Acid Attack

146

147

175

148

136

156

6

Attempt to Acid Attack

41

30

50

35

41

45

7

Cruelty by Husband or his relatives

123245

113548

110434

107458

104165

126575

8

Kidnapping and Abduction of Women

58505

60658

66544

68735

75291

73844

9

Human Trafficking

1379

1299

1183

1090

1640

1991

10

Selling of Minor Girls

*

*

*

90

52

26

11

Buying of Minor Girls

*

*

*

4

8

8

12

Rape

36975

34771

39068

33658

33977

32260

13

Attempt to Commit Rape

4234

4442

5732

4372

4157

4038

14

Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty

82620

82800

85332

87924

90039

89292

15

Insult to the Modesty of Women

9796

8707

7356

7652

7035

7169

16

Total IPC Crimes against Women

329343

318310

329067

324966

329597

348162

17

Dowry Prohibition Act

10146

9984

9683

10375

13275

13674

18

Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act

2756

3355

3189

2278

2087

1845

19

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

430

468

437

639

580

554

20

Cyber Crimes/Information Technology Act

752

796

931

612

1268

1645

21

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act

*

*

*

32254

39741

46682

22

Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act

47

40

39

28

22

23

23

Total SLL Crimes against Women

14131

14643

14279

46186

56973

64423

 

Total Crime against Women

686842

665795

686199

742304

773140

825170

* Refers to data that wasn’t collected
Source: Crime in India 2019, NCRB 

According to NCRB’s recent reports, there has been a 7% increase in crimes against women post-2016. Instead of seeing a reducing trend, the table shows an upward trend for crimes against women in the aftermath of the intervention. A worthy question to ask is, is it truly enough to stick to anecdotes from the initial days or the number of calls logged per day when the data points otherwise?

The intervention brings structural reforms which do aid in bringing efficiency in the system. However, the structures can only hold when there are enough officers to implement them on the ground. Let’s assume that a communications officer receives a complain and forwards the details to the concerned police station, what happens when there is no one available to reach the complainant? A report reveals that there are only 65-123 policemen available for every 1,00,000 citizens in Uttar Pradesh, which makes the entire State’s police force one of the weakest in the country. While UP100 is a good approach in maximising benefit with the minimum available resources, it is important to remember that with a highly understaffed force formulation of intervention is far easier than the implementation of the same. There is a robust structure in place for collecting and disseminating information, but also requires enough policemen who can act on the information.

There has been a lot of debate over the inefficiency and the lack of ethical decision-making seen by the UP Police in the recent past. The discourse was long due and does bring light to the failing faith of citizens in the State’s Police Force. However, accusations and criticism without addressing the root causes of the problem only makes it a continuous topic for blood-boiling debates on the national television, akin to many other issues which often feature to only spark a thread of hate and trolling in the online world before dying out for another sensational content to make way.

We see the UP police’s inability to do their job but that’s merely a symptom, what is the cause for this symptom? The lack of manpower in the force has been a long-standing problem. According to research done by PRS Legislative, only 3.4% of the state budget is utilised for the police force in Uttar Pradesh. It is far below ideal but there has been a consistent increase of 15% on an average in the budget annually over time. It isn’t just the dearth of budget but also the abysmal utilisation of funds towards the purpose they are allocated for. In 2015-16, only 14% of funds available were utilised by the State for police force. The understaffed stations, therefore, are often low on both incentive and the ability to work in a manner that is expected. Instead, there is incentive coming from the wrong places to slow down investigations, or to not react altogether. Considering, human beings are driven by self-interest usually, the pay-offs are higher for the policemen to not do their job.

Apart from structural barriers, the ministers in each state are supposed to monitor and ensure accountability of the force towards citizens. However, the unmonitored nature of the superintendence has led to power being exerted over the police force to satisfy personal and political conditions of political figures. The caste-based politics in Uttar Pradesh and the desire to remain in power often drives leaders to keep their supporters satisfied for the next term, not through their work but by their continuous bias against particular sections of the society. Uttar Pradesh often sees Upper Caste unleashing violence on Dalits and walking away scot-free, the credit goes the nuanced structure of vote-bank politics. A combination of institutional loopholes and a festering infection of casteism that is often capitalised by parties for political purposes plague the efficiency of the police force in the State.

UP100 was allocated a budget of Rs. 2325 crores over five years. It is a substantial percentage of the budget for the police force. The initiative is applaud-worthy for being a step in the right direction and an intervention worth investing the political capital of the then ruling party on it. However, to treat UP100 as a panacea to all problems with the UP police force without supportive policies which are aligned with it to bring forward police reforms is why the intervention fails to reach the outcomes that were predicted during its inception.

Read more by the author: Bihar: Clinging to the “Backward” Tag


Mayuri Purkayastha

Mayuri Purkayastha

Mayuri Purkayastha is an alumnus of Teach For India and has spent the last 5 years working at the grassroots level of Education Sector. Mayuri is currently working with VIF as a policy research intern and helping the Joint Women's Program in designing a project for children during COVID.

1 Comment

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Khushi · November 2, 2020 at 11:01 pm

Didi I had also called on 100 no. And childline no. 1098 but nothing happens no action is taken they just take all the our information and nothing else.

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