Flooded with hoax calls, police ask for tougher penalty for pranksters
Security was beefed up at Dadar railway station on Tuesday after an unidentified man phoned the Railway Protection Force (RPF) control room warning of a bomb at the station — it was the second such call made to Dadar station in 15 days.
And that was not an isolated case — Mumbai Police got 58 such hoax calls in the last four months, 18 more than it did last year.
Police say despite 98 per cent of the threat calls they get turning out to be hoax calls, they treat each call with equal importance. “The moment we get a call, we inform all control rooms and rush relevant departments like police, fire, Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) to the spot,” said a BDDS officer on condition of anonymity.
People from the location are evacuated and police and related agencies then spend four to five hours verifying if the call was genuine or not. If it turns out to be a hoax, the next few weeks are spent tracing the caller. “Such calls are often made from public phones, from where it is difficult to trace a caller,” said Manohar Bhoir, deputy commissioner of police (Operations). “The process [of identifying the caller] is tedious and consumes a lot of time and money,” Bhoir added.
Others in the police force have a harder view on the phenomenon. “Internationally, the laws on hoax calls are so strict, they treat such calls as an act of spreading terror. We should learn from them and amend the law, increase the jail term for this offence,” said another BDDS officer on condition of anonymity.