Delhi Govt Sets Up Helpline, Safe Houses for Interfaith Couples

The women helpline 181 can be used by inter-faith and inter-caste married couples to report threats or harassment.

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The toll-free women helpline 181 of the Delhi Commission for Women can now also be used by interfaith and inter-caste married couples to report threats or harassment. This comes as part of the standing operating procedure (SOP) issued by the Delhi government for the protection of interfaith and inter-caste couples.

‘Special cells’, headed by deputy commissioners of police, would be set up to look into such matters, news agency PTI reported.

The SOP also allows the government to put up the couple in ‘safe houses’ if their relationship is being opposed by families, local community or the khap.

Earlier this week, violence had erupted in Delhi’s Sarai Kale Khan after a Muslim girl converted to Hinduism and married a Dalit man. The woman’s family went on a rampage in the streets, damaging two-wheelers and banging hard on the doors of houses, while people can be heard screaming from inside.

Round-The-Clock Helpline for Distressed Couples

The SOP states that telecallers trained to handle distress calls will provide the necessary assistance or advice to the couple.

Though the telecallers would be aware of all the available services, “if required, they can be further trained to handle such calls,” it further states.

The DCP of the concerned area will bring the entire facts of the case to the district magistrate to convey the need for a ‘safe house’ for the distressed couple. Additional security in the form of a Protective Service Officer will also be provided.

The DCP may also direct an assistant commissioner of police or a sub-division police officer to register a first information report against those threatening the couples.

“The couple shall be briefed about the threat to them and in no case will they be exposed till the issue is resolved,” the SOP further states.

A safe house has been set up in the Kingsway Camp, which can accommodate three couples and has two rooms, a toilet and a kitchen. Another safe house is being set up at the same location, according to The Indian Express.

However, it is not mandatory for the couple to stay in the safe house.

“In case the couple does not want to stay in such safe houses, the special cell shall provide protection to them, as per the threat perception, at place of stay,” the SOP states.

Earlier, in December 2020, the Delhi High Court had granted protection to the couple to an interfaith couple who have fled Uttar Pradesh fearing persecution under the recently passed Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. It also directed the Delhi government to provide them a safe house.

(With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express)

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