Some speak in a drunken slur. Some make exceedingly abusive remarks. Some call just to irritate the policeman manning the line. Police’s emergency hotline number, 100, receives so many prank calls that the important helpline is virtually clogged.
The hotline received 63,836 prank calls in the past five months, according to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office, Ranipokhari that houses the Metro Control of the hotline. On Saturday, the metro control got a call with an apparent childish-voice on the other side of the line. The child started asking the police to send their father home as he was getting late from office. And, all of a sudden, with a burst of laughter the phone was hanged up.
In another instance, a female official was bullied over the phone by a group of people who supposedly used a loudspeaker. When control room officials rang back to trace the caller, the number had been switched off.
For officials at the Control, a noisy room with crackles from headsets and phones ringing, this public behaviour makes them unable to respond to more serious calls. Officials say the centre received as many genuine calls at the same time. Irritated and frustrated, police on Sunday caught a man of Indian origin who had been pestering Control officials frequently. Uday Kumar Singh of Uttar Pradesh had been abusing the hotline, tipping false messages. Sometimes he called more than 10 times a day from his mobile number.
Since November 17, police got 3,056 missed calls. While 68 callers used abusive language, 337 had tried to tease the person at the other end. As many as 54 callers were drunk while 571 children who called did not have a serious concern.
SSP Hemanta Pal, spokesman for the Police Commissioner’s Office, said the prank calls had hampered the service.
“The hotline is meant for bringing public closer to the police and their service. When it is misused, people suffer,” he said, asserting that it had not deterred the police from helping the needy.
SSP Pal said the hotline had made it easier for authorities to respond to incidents such as fire outbreaks, hooliganism, accidents and disasters. The metro control room handles up to 15 calls at a time, 10 from Nepal Telecom devices and five from Ncell. Fifteen personnel are on duty at any given time. Besides, the control room handles the movement of VVIP convoys and traffic in Kathmandu Valley.
Prank calls since July 17
Prank callers on Dec 13
Abusive language users 1
Inebriated callers 1
Missed calls 38
Blank calls 40
Wrong number 3