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Helpline for NE people in Bengaluru facing closure due to severe fund crunch

GUWHATI, Jan 3: A helpline number playing the guardian angel’s role against crime and discrimination perpetrated on North-eastern people in Bengaluru is facing closure due to severe fund crunch.
Opened in 2012, this helpline receives more than 10 calls every week on average and has solved or provided succor in over 650 cases of crime and discrimination against NE people in the 5 years since its installation.
In August 2012 — when text messages threatening violence against people from Northeastern States had led to exodus of more than 12, 000 people from the city —North East Solidarity, a group of people working for the safety and protection of people from Northeast region, set up a help line. They soon started receiving numerous distress calls about physical attack, molestation of women, sexual harassment by owners at beauty parlors, harassment at work, human trafficking, murder and the like.
Speaking to this reporter, President of North East Solidarity Rini Ralte said, “This helpline is a necessity for the Northeastern people in Bengaluru. We managed to keep the helpline running. But now we are facing serious financial crisis. We need some money to at least pay the persons handling it. We also need money to help the victims, get a lawyer, to pay medical bills and many more. We are still getting distress calls.”
“Nearly 5 lakh people from various Northeastern States come to this region seeking jobs in restaurants, parlors, spas and call centers.  As most of those people coming here are not highly educated but desire higher living standards and better income, they are being threatened in every possible way. In most cases, girls and women are brought here with the promise of decent jobs but are later pushed into the flesh trade,” Ralte said.
“We are planning to go for crowd funding for raising money to operate this helpline because we cannot ignore the distress calls,” she added.