News : Calls Received by Noida’s Alpha Control Room are From Juveniles
August 19, 2014 -- The 100 helpline is supposed to be dialled in case of an emergency, when you need help from the police. But in Noida, it seems to be a source of entertainment for kids. They call on this number and start reciting poems, or raise false alarms. In a day, the Alpha Control Room (ACR) receives approximately 1600 calls, out of which, only about 70 of them are actionable.
Of all the false calls that the Noida ACR receives, 80% are made by juveniles, against whom no action can be taken. Dr Preetinder Singh, senior superintendent of Police, Gautam Budh Nagar, told us, "The maximum number of spam calls that we get on 100 are from those against whom we can't take any action. These calls are made by juveniles. We let them go because the police can't take any legal action against them. But we inform their parents, and warn them that if it is done again, we will take action. A larger percentage of the callers are below 18 years of age."
In July itself, the ACR got 39,843 calls, out of which, 37,000 were hoax calls. Only 1,922 calls were genuine calls, while the other 921 calls were enquiry calls. Shabana Khan, manager of the ACR, said, "If you ask me the percentage, 80% of our fake calls are from juveniles." Calls on 100 are diverted to 10 lines in the ACR. While in the morning, they have female employees to receive the calls, there is also a wireless operator present 24x7 in the ACR. It is the call centre which receives the calls first and forwards the actionable calls to the wireless operator. In July, the ACR got hoax calls from 10 different numbers for over 50 times in a day. These include abusive calls, blank calls and calls from children.
A few days ago, the ACR got a call saying, "Bomb phatne wala hai, bacha sakte ho toh bacha lo." The caller called thrice repeating the same thing. The ACR forwarded the number to the surveillance department. Later, it was found that it was a hoax call and the caller was a 14-year-old kid. "My force spent the entire day looking for a bomb. We can't ignore such calls. They can actually be a serious warning. When we got to know that it was a 14-year-old who called us for his own entertainment, we felt our entire time was wasted. We gave him a warning and let him go," said Singh. Khan said, around the time of Independence Day, such hoax calls increase.
Sometimes, these kids call and start reciting poems. Khan told us, "Often, these kids call and before we even say 'hello', they start reciting poems. Pehle toh hum samjhate hain, nahi maante, toh phir daantna padta hai. Because there are no charges to call 100, these kids call very frequently. Kabhi kabhi lagta hai ki parents bhi involved hain ismein. Sometimes, we hear someone prompting to these kids, 'ab yeh bolo, ab woh bolo'."
"Many a time, these juvenile callers call to say that their parents are fighting. When a team is sent to the given address, there's actually nothing happening there, and everything is peaceful. Sometimes, even the parents are shocked to know that their kids called on 100 and said something like this," said Khan.
There have been instances when juveniles called the ACR, reporting an attack or firing. Khan told us, "Children call, and in a panic-stricken voice, say that firing is happening at a particular place. These kids are such great actors. One just can't tell if it is actually happening or not. When a team is sent there, only then do we get to know that it was a fake call."
As the police can't arrest juveniles or threaten them, the parents are given a verbal warning first and if the child continues to make prank calls, then the parents are called to the police station for a second, more severe warning. The cops tell them that if they don't stop their child from making these hoax calls, an FIR would be registered against them.
A few hours after the child calls, the ACR calls back on the same number, pretending to be the child's uncle or aunt, and asks the child to make them speak to his/her parents. When the parent comes on the phone, the ACR informs them about the child's activities. The parents are then asked to explain the importance of the number 100 to their children.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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