From January 1, 2017, all mobile phones should have the button – the key “5” or “9” for feature phones, and an emergency call button in the keypad or a facility for short pressing the power button thrice, in case of smartphones, the Department of Telecommunications said in a notification on Monday.

When activated, a panic button will help users respond to emergency situations. The calls made from the panic button will be automatically routed to a law enforcement agency, such as the local police, the details of which are being worked out at the mobile operators’ end.The new rules also mandate all new feature phones and smartphones to have GPS-based location-identification facility.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi today said the in-built system of panic button on mobiles for women’s safety is a “game changer”.

“We finally managed to get the panic button. We have been working on it over the last two years. I spoke to the Prime Minister and he took it extremely seriously and immediately it has been done so we should give him credit for it,” Ms Gandhi told reporters outside Parliament.

She said, “When I came to the Ministry there were proposals that women should wear necklace (with an inbuilt device pressing which could trigger an alarm). So we thought that it is best to have the panic button on the phone. Even in rural areas women have phones now. So we thought two things – one is panic button which was declared today. It is a game changer.”

For the second thing, she said, “I am working on now that till the police come… somebody has developed an application. This button will alert ten people around you who are closer to you and they can help you till police comes. So I am thinking to make that App compulsory on mobile phones.”