The Mumbai police control room receives innumerable calls regularly. Those on duty answer these calls with some trepidation. For, more often than not, they are greeted by a stream of expletives, or at times, they worry about stories of threats to lonely citizens only to find out later that someone was playing a prank.
At least 85 percent of the calls received by the police control room (Number 100) give false information or are just prank calls. Data provided by the Mumbai police revealed that in 2012 the control room received 40,25,917 calls of which only 6,50,519 were genuine.
The trend continued in 2013: Of the 23,66,743 calls recorded till July 31, only 1,61,772 (about 7%) calls were by people in need of help.
Earlier this year, an estate agent from Kandivli was arrested for making a hoax call about a possible blast in the debt-recovery tribunal of the Income Tax building. Similarly, a teenager was taken into custody in July 2012 for calling the control room and threatening to blow up a train at CST.
“There are days when we don’t receive a single genuine call; but it is our duty to alert the police station concerned. At times, we know that the caller is providing false information, but we don’t take any chance. Bomb hoax calls, for example, are very common,” said a police officer from the control room.
The officer said that pranks are played by the jobless or people who have nothing else to do and they get sadistic pleasure in harassing policemen. Some throw abuses and use obscene language when they hear a woman’s voice at the other end.
The helpline for senior citizens, women and children (103) faces a similar problem. In 2012, it received 95,729 calls of which 17,149 (17%) reported suspicious movements in their vicinity because of which they felt threatened. Till July 31, 2013, this helpline received 42,901 calls of which only 13,575 (31%) were genuine.
A police officer attached to this helpline said: “Many senior citizens call just to talk to us because they are lonely.
Children make vague conversations, and surprisingly, some women misuse the helpline to report matters which are false, and thereby waste our time.”
A senior officer said that pranksters get away with such nuisance because the police do not act against them. “We do not have the time and manpower to deal with such people who have nothing better to do in life,” he said.
Officers attached to the control room and the 103 helpline have appealed to citizens to use the numbers only in case of emergencies and to report genuine cases.