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Saturday, 15 June, 2002, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
India police network against crime
Farmers in an Indian village check prices online
Computers have already made inroads into rural India

The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has become the first in the country to install a state-of-the-art online police network.

Indian women police
Andhra's police force faces new challenges
Officials say that the e-Cops (e-Computerised Operations for Police Services) system will increase the transparency and accountability of the police department and improve relations between the public and the force.

Correspondents say the Andhra Pradesh police are among the worst forces in India in terms of corruption, human right abuses, custodial deaths and alleged killings in fake encounters, and could do with substantial improvement.

The e-Cops system will be formally launched by the state Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu in Hyderabad on Monday.

Unveiling the sophisticated information system before the media, the state's Home Minister, Devender Goud, said the new system would improve police efficiency significantly.

Popular grievances

Mr Goud said under this system, people would be able to lodge a complaint with the police from anywhere in the state.

Three generations of a rural family
Many Indian villagers are victims of police excesses
They could also check the status of their cases through the internet and find out what action the police had taken on their complaints.

The system will network all the 1,585 police stations in the state with each other and with the offices of senior officials using the internet to provide real-time information to the people.

Initially, 195 stations will be connected and the remaining will be covered over the next year.

Senior police officials say the system will help in reducing the burden of paperwork borne by policemen and help with saving manpower, time and costs.

The state's Inspector General of Police, Mahender Kumawat, said by removing a key public grievance - that the police refuse to register their complaints - the system would also increase customer satisfaction.

Major challenge

The e-Cops system has been developed by a group of IT companies including Microsoft, Cisco and Sun Microsystems at a cost of Rs 160m ($3.3m).

Andhra Pradesh has the distinction of having the largest number of police stations among all the Indian states.

Now it can also boast of having the most sophisticated police information system and fully computerised administration.

However, observers say the success of this system will depend on how fast policemen change their attitude towards the people.

Pointing at their record and reputation, correspondents say that could pose a challenge to the networked force.

See also:

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