Retired IPS officer Arvind Verma, a part of the project and engaged in researching police affairs, sought to give statistical proof of the non-registration of complaints. ''The Delhi Police Commissioner, in his press conference yesterday, said the Police Control Room had received 11,55,247 calls in the year but only a total of 55,000 complaints were registered.. if we take 90 per cent calls to be genuine, then even the percentage is very low... where did the rest go?'' he asked.
Elaborating on the aim of her website, set up by her India Vision Foundation, Ms Bedi, currently Chairperson of the Bureau of Police Research and Development, said it was intended to connect the ordinary citizen with the police, and make an effort to ensure complaints were registered.
''We will screen complaints and electronically forward them to the Director General of Police/Commissioner concerned, sending a copy to the sender as well, who can take a printout to serve as a record that the complaint has been tendered. Thereafter, the complainant could use this as a proof and utilise measures such as the Right to Information Act to know about the status of his complaint,'' she said.
However, Ms Bedi stressed that the website was designed to strengthen, not supplant police services, and also clarified that it was not going to act as an investigating agency.
''We appeal to all those who use these services to do so only if they have already visited a police station with a genuine complaint but it has not been registered, or use us to settle personal scores or register a fradulent complaint,'' she said, noting that entering full personal details would be a prerequisite.
Asked how many people were associated with the project, Ms Bedi said the interest in it was growing and there were several retired police officers, lawyers, legal students interested in helping them screen complaints. ''We envisage Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), Bar Associations, Law departments of colleges and university, NGOs, even mediapersons, also participating in this...
lots of people have expressed interest,'' she added.
Noting that several state police forces in India had set up websites with a similar purpose in mind, Ms Bedi said they seemed to be underutilised and her effort would supplement them. Denying any ulterior motive behind this activity, she said it was just to ensure the rights and safety for the people by drawing attention to the amount of crime that went unregistered in the country.
''This is one of the biggest problems in the country, and has a direct bearing on its security. Just think how much the non-redressal of grievances contributes to terrorism, communal clashes and casteist violence,'' she underlined.
However, the feisty Ms Bedi, who was miffed at not being selected for the Delhi Commissioner's post despite her seniority, could not resist making a jibe at being superseeded. Referring to the forwarding of screened complaints to the police chief concerned, she initially said the individual could come to know the amount of crime occurring under his/her jurisdiction, but then withdrew the female reference, noting there was no chance of it any longer.
Asked why she had launched this project so late despite announcing after receiving the Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1994, that she would utilise her prize money for three purposes -- woman empowerment, prison reforms and police reforms -- she said she had worked hard for the third aim during her time in service. ''I tried my best to work for police reforms during my tenure in the IPS but I think this is the opportune time for this project,'' she said, adding she intended to use all the knowledge and experience she had gained in service as a citizen.
''This is an endeavour of civilian activism... I'm using my police knowledge and experience as a citizen for the benefit of citizens,'' she asserted.
Responding to a question on how the poor and weak section of society, who are mostly uneducated/less educated but suffer the most from non-registration of complaints, possessing neither influence or money, could use the electronic-only mode, she said it was a start.
''They can utilise the services of legal aid societies, NGOs and so on for this purpose... later on it is possible that educated and well meaning people could assist them and cybercafe owners could charge them less... call centres could also help,'' she shot back.
Stressing that this was just the first phase and calling on all sections to make it a success, Ms Bedi also mentioned a second phase where the above problem could be dealt with but declined to elaborate on it at this point.
The technology for the saferindia.com website has been provided by Mobile Mantra, whose founder CEO Naveen Varshneya was also present at the press conference.