Lucknow: After months of stalking and harassment by a serial caller, police finally came to the aid of reporters of women-run news network Khabar Lahariya in Uttar Pradesh.
In a press conference here, Khabar Lahariya editor Kavita said after orders from senior officials, police in Banda in the state’s Bundelkhand region took action to trace and capture the accused.
Kavita said the action was delayed yet they appreciated police’s prompt and sensitive action.
Meera, the chief of operations, said there was a need for systems of security like the 1090 helpline to be more efficient and accountable as well the as environment to report cases of harassment.
Since January this year, five members of the publication were repeatedly harassed by an unknown caller, who identified himself as Nishu.
Despite a complaint, the matter, according to Kavita, was not taken seriously and brushed off as an ‘ordinary’ case until orders from higher officials.
The accused, Saddam alias Nishu, was arrested on Tuesday, shortly after orders from the state government.
Uttar Pradesh Police chief Jagan Mohan Yadav said changing mindsets in local police stations was the ‘challenge’.
“Many efforts are being done for women’s safety, such as the 1090 helpline. The challenge is in changing mindsets in police stations in the districts,” the director general of police said in a statement.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.
India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.
Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.
“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.
India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.
Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.
Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.
Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.
According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.