In the first week of August this year, the Delhi Police of the north-east district in the city launched an effort that aims to educate children about sexual harassment and abuse, apart from providing them with a platform to report such incidents. The initiative, which was earlier called Operation “Sakhi”—friend—has now been renamed Operation “Nirbheek”—which translates to “without fear.” Under this programme, police officials visit schools that fall under their jurisdiction and conduct interactive sessions to spread awareness about sexual harassment and crimes.
With the help of Komal, a short animated film, produced by Childline India Foundation—a non-governmental organisation that works with the ministry of women and child development—the officials explain the concept of “good touch” and a “bad touch” to school children, and encourage them to report instances of the latter. Thereafter, complaint boxes are installed in each school, for the children to file written complaints if they want to. A female constable from the local police station is assigned to make weekly visits to the school in order to receive both verbal and written grievances. The police officers at the station then go through all these complaints, and decide the necessary course of action. This entire process is conducted under the supervision of the office of the deputy commissioner of police.
The idea for Nirbheek was reportedly conceived by the deputy commissioner of police for the district, Veenu Bansal. When I met Bansal on 30 September, he told me that Operation Nirbheek had covered around 270 schools of the north-east district. “There has been a deluge—we have received over thousand verbal and over 150 written complaints. Of these, seven were serious complaints, so FIRs [first information report] were registered and arrests made. The victims in these cases were all girls of class fifth to tenth,” revealed Bansal, before concluding that the over-all response from students, parents and teachers had been overwhelmingly positive. “There can be no resistance except from perpetrators,” he declared.