3 arrested for sexual harassment after Chennai woman alerts cops using Kavalan app
“We want all women who uses a smartphone to have the Kavalan app installed on their phones. The aim is to make them feel safe by using this app,” says Flower Bazaar Assistant Commissioner of Police S Lakshmanan.
“A woman need not carry a knife or chilli power for their safety anymore. The Kavalan app is sufficient. It is as good as having a weapon and they can feel safe,” he adds.
On Saturday, alerted by the Kavalan app, the Chennai police arrested three men on a Metropolitan Corporation Transport (MTC) bus for allegedly sexually harassing a woman and for causing public nuisance. The incident took place on the 15 G route bus on Saturday evening around 8.00 pm.
A woman riding the bus from Broadway to Chennai Central was allegedly subject to sexual harassment and taunts on the bus by two inebriated law graduates and their friend. All three were apprehended by Flower Bazaar police and booked under section 354 of the IPC (sexual harassment). The men have been identified as M Anandaraj (22) of Virudhunagar, S Arul Kumar (23) of Anthiyoor, Erode and N Ponmani Maran of Salem.
How to use the Kavalan app
Kavalan SOS app, developed by Amtex Systems, is part of the Tamil Nadu State Police Master Control Room initiative. Using the app, people can seek immediate assistance in emergency situations such as sexual harassment, kidnapping and also during natural disasters.
The Kavalan app is available for download on both Android and iOS phones. Explaining its functionality Lakshmanan says, “There’s a red-coloured button on the app’s homepage called SOS. Once pressed, it will start counting down - 5,4, 3, 2, 1 … etc - and the cops will get in touch with the person in danger.”
He continues, “We usually try calling 100 when there’s an emergency and this number may be sometimes busy. Now, with the app, the person in an emergency situation will receive the call from the police. There are two types of actions that can be taken. First, the nearby police station, informed by the control centre, will get in touch with the user or second, the police will track the person who has raised the SOS using their GPRS location to track them down. As far as Chennai City is concerned, option one works well.”
In the recent case, a patrol vehicle station en route was immediately alerted following which the vehicle tracked down the bus and apprehended the accused immediately, even before the woman could reach her destination. “All this happened within 10-15 minutes. Time of action, in case of a city like Chennai, depends on the traffic. But users can be assured of a swift response,” he adds.
In order to register the Kavalan app on their phones, users will have to share information such as their name, phone number, address, date of birth, relative’s name and contact number.
In light of the recent Hyderabad incident in which a woman veterinary doctor was brutally raped and murdered, Lakshmanan adds that all police officers have been instructed by the Commissioner to push the usage of the app among the public. Incidentally, the app was launched in June last year.
“We have already educated Madras Medical College Students (MMC falls under Flower Bazaar’s control). We have also put up posters and set up stalls at railway stations, bus stands, etc to educate people on the app. Over the past month the department has been pushing this app strongly among the public,” he explains. The police have been appealing to women and senior citizens to make the best use of this app to raise alarms whenever they are feeling unsafe.
In a similar incident reported earlier this month, two persons were nabbed by the RK Nagar police, following an SOS alert from a woman residing in the area.