Delhi govt issues SOP to protect interfaith, inter-caste couples from harassment; sets up 'special cell', 24-hr helpline

According to the new SOPs, the government will provide accommodation in its ''safe house'' to those couples whose relationship is being opposed by their families or the local community or khaps

Press Trust of India March 28, 2021 17:33:37 IST
Delhi govt issues SOP to protect interfaith, inter-caste couples from harassment; sets up 'special cell', 24-hr helpline

Representational image. Pixabay.

New Delhi: The Delhi government has issued a standard operating procedure (SoP) for the protection of inter-faith and inter-caste couples from harassment and threats and directed setting up of ''special cells'', headed by deputy commissioners of police, to look into such matters.

According to the SOP, the government will provide accommodation in its ''safe house'' to those couples whose relationship is being opposed by their families or the local community or khaps.

The government said the existing 181 toll-free women helpline of the Delhi Commission for Women will serve as a round-the-clock helpline to receive from inter-faith and inter-caste married couples complaints of threat and harassment and provide necessary assistance.

"The telecallers trained to handle distress calls and already aware about available services can provide necessary assistance/advice to the couple in distress. If required, they can be further trained to handle such calls," stated the SOP issued by the social welfare department.

It stated that after hearing the couple, the DCP of the area concerned, who will perform as head of the ''special cell'', will bring the entire facts to the knowledge of the district magistrate and convey their requirement for a stay in ''safe house''.

Earlier this week, violence had erupted at southeast Delhi's Harijan Basti in alleged connection with an inter-faith marriage. The Delhi Police has arrested several persons for their alleged involvement in the incident.

"Adequate security shall be provided to the couple in form of PSO (protective service officer) and the ''safe house'' will also be secured by the DCP of the area concerned.

"The couple shall be briefed about the threat to them and in no case they are exposed till the issue is resolved," the department said in the SOP.

In case the couple doesn't want to stay in the ''safe house'', the special cell will provide protection to them in accordance with the threat perception at their place of stay.

If preliminary enquiry ascertains the authenticity of threats, the DCP concerned will direct an ACP or sub-division police officer to register an FIR against those threatening the couple.

According to the social welfare department, the government has established ''Safe House'' at a state-run residential area in north Delhi''s Kingsway Camp which can accommodate a maximum of three couples.

It said in March 2018, the Supreme Court had directed the state to create a ''special cell'' in every district comprising the superintendent of police, the district social welfare officers and others to receive petition or complaints of harassment and threats to inter-caste and inter-faith couples.

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