Reaching Out to Distressed Women
- Pallavi Priya
- Published on 20 Sep 2020, 7:33 pm IST
- 4 minutes read
Raipur SSP Arif Sheikh has initiated several novel projects to help women in distress. `Chuppi Tod’ is one such highly acclaimed and successful initiative.
- Mr. Arif Shaikh DIG, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
The Covid 19 induced lockdown in India brought forth different kinds of problems at different places. One of these was sudden escalation in the incidents of domestic violence. The most obvious cause seemed to be loss of jobs and employment opportunities, suffered mainly by men, leading to tempers running high in many families.
Chattisgarh’s capital Raipur too witness this phenomenon. But here, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mr Arif Sheikh took counter-measures in ways which have been emulated by other states as well. He called his initiative `Chuppi Tod’, a Hindi phrase which translates to `Break your Silence’. In fact, the entire initiative is aimed at those women of Raipur who were at the receiving end of violence, and it urged to come forward and speak up about the atrocities.
Mr Sheikh said that before the lockdown, there were, on an average, around 30 cases of domestic violence reported in Raipur per month. This increased exponentially during the lockdown. With men-folk staying at home, the women often bore the brunt and suffered mental and physical assaults.
Encouraged by the enticing slogan `Chuppi Tod’, the aggrieved women of Raipur started approaching Raipur police. Their numbers swelled in matter of days. The police was ready at its end; several teams had been set up in advance to take up the matters of domestic violence. Once it received the a complain, the police acted swiftly by cross checking cases with local police control room and women police stations. Once the fact was verified, action was taken through multi-pronged strategies. “Database creation through scanning of complaints was a major part of the campaign, wherein contact details of those effected or those that were suspected to be potential victims were taken out. The police personnel then started contacting these persons daily, instilling confidence in them,’’ said Mr Sheikh.
Mr. Shaikh recounts initial hiccups, such as women hesitating to speak in detail on phone against their husbands. At times husbands would pick the phone, leading to disruption in communication. So Mr Sheikh’s team devised a new technique. They prepared a questioannaire, consisting of single point questions and the women needed to answer in yes or no. This eased the work of police and got them over the women’s hesitation.
In many case, “intervening’’ police teams were sent to victims’ homes and matter sorted out there itself. Issues like violence due to food shortage were addressed to by the police then and there itself.
The Power of Social Media
A very important element of `Chuppi Tod’ initiative, recalled Mr Sheikh, was creation of a Facebook page, a Whatsapp number and a Toll Free number to address to the rising cases of domestic violence. This was essential to connect with the victims. In fact such was the effect of these measures, said Mr Sheikh, that Raipur police started receiving complaints from states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka!
Interestingly, since `Chuppi Tod’ happened to be a gender neutral initiative, the police also received complaints from number of men who claimed to be victims of violence. In these cases, the police came out in support of the men.
International Recognition for Mr Sheikh
`Chuppi Tod’ just one of the many initiatives taken by Mr. Arif Sheikh during his 12 years’ tenure as an IPS officer. He is one of the few IPS officers to have received an international recognition in the form of three consecutive awards for community policing from International Association of Chief of Police (IACP).
IACP is world’s largest professional association for police leaders based out of Virginia, USA, which recognizes excellent work done in the field of community policing before the age of 40. Mr. Sheikh believes that the police force should have a human face, so as to connect with people and instill a sense of trust in them.
`Rakhi with Khaki’, another initiative by Mr Sheikh, ensured participation of more than 1400 women. It has made entry in the Guinness Book of Records in 2018.
According to Mr. Shaikh, “Traditional policing, that is crime detection and prevention and Community policing goes hand in hand.’’ But it equally important for the police force to proactively engage with the people, and make them participants in the fight against violence and injustice.
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