India's Delhi government's anti-corruption helpline gets thousands of calls

Arvind Kejriwal Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Aam Aadmi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal (centre), made an impressive debut in Delhi polls

A new helpline to assist people deal with demands for bribes by government workers in the Indian capital, Delhi, has received more than 4,000 calls in the first few hours of its launch.

The anti-corruption helpline is an initiative of the new Aam Aadmi (Common Man's) Party (AAP) which governs Delhi with support from the Congress party.

The party is led by Arvind Kejriwal, a former civil servant-turned-activist.

Mr Kejriwal took over as Delhi's chief minister earlier this month.

The helpline - open for 14 hours every day - began working at 08:00 India time (03:30GMT) on Thursday.

After the response on the first day, Mr Kejriwal said the number of staff manning the helpline would be trebled from Friday.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday evening, the chief minister said they had received 38 complaints about "serious corruption cases".

Setting up stings

On Wednesday, the government announced that callers could leave behind their names, details of their complaint and contact number with the helpline.

A government official would then call each caller back and offer tips on how to "trap" the bribe taker by setting up a sting operation.

"It is not a complaint number. It is a helpline number, where people will be advised and explained by an anti-corruption department official on how to conduct a sting operation [on the bribe taker]," Mr Kejriwal said.

"The sting could be done either in visual or audio mode. After doing the sting, the person should get back to the same adviser, following which a trap will be laid [by anti-corruption officers] to arrest the accused," he said.

Mr Kejriwal said every citizen of Delhi with a phone would "become an anti-corruption crusader".

"The purpose of launching this helpline is to create fear in the minds of corrupt individuals. There are certain fish that turn the water filthy. It [the helpline] will act as deterrence as such people should fear that they might be under surveillance," he said.

The Indian Express newspaper called the move "unprecedented in governance".

Mr Kejriwal's party won 28 of the 70 seats in last month's Delhi elections on a pledge to fight corruption and clean up politics.

Encouraged by the performance, the party has decided to contest the parliamentary elections, which are likely to be held in April or May.

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