News Source: Express Tribune
By: Raheel Salman
KARACHI: Due to a lack of awareness of civic responsibility, even the best efforts to facilitate citizens can go to waste. The Karachi Police’s Whatsapp helpline, which aimed to address citizens’ complaints is a good example.
The police Whatsapp helpline number, 0343-5142770, was launched by the Karachi Police at the end of last year. Directly under the supervision of Additional Inspector-General Dr Amir Ahmed Sheikh, it was created so that immediate action could be taken to resolve citizens’ complaints.
The helpline receives thousands of complaints a month, but an analysis of the last one and a half months shows that out of around 9,000 messages, only 342 complaints were genuine and were grounded in concrete issues.
In December 2018, 6,663 messages were received on the helpline number. Of these, only 203 were found to be genuine complaints when investigated. The remaining 6,460 messages contained odd and irrelevant issues.
Some people shared the municipality issues in their areas and some complained about the unavailability of utilities. Besides, there were also messages by people sharing their admiration of the police.
Out of the 203 genuine complaints received, 126 messages were complaints against other citizens based on personal disputes, business rivalries and others.
The remaining 77 messages were complaints against the disrespectful behaviour of the police who had refused to file cases and rarely patrolled their areas.
Cases have been filed against 26 of these complaints while inquiries for the rest are under way. Further investigation will be carried out based on the inquiry reports. Already, the inquiries have proven 18 complaints to be bogus.
Similarly, during the first half of January, 2,475 messages were received on the Whatsapp helpline of which, 2,336 were miscellaneous and did not require any inquiry. A total of 47 messages were complaints against uncooperative police personnel while 92 messages were complaints against other citizens.
Of the latter, five proved to be false. Cases were filed for eight complaints, some of which were against police officials who had refused to file cases.
IG steps up
Following the Karachi Police, the Sindh Police chief IGP Dr Kaleem Imam had also asked citizens to report any complaints against police personnel. The move, he claimed, was aimed at improving the service delivery and image of his department.
In a post on the Sindh Police’s official social media accounts, he asked citizens to call the IG Complaint Cell Helpline 9110 or WhatsApp their complaints to 0300-002-1881 if any police personnel refused to register their FIR or if their registered cases were not being investigated properly.
At the time, Dr Imam had also requested citizens to inform him if the police had illegally arrested anyone or if a police official had demanded a bribe.
Karachi Police spokesperson said that the Whatsapp helpline number was issued for the convenience of the citizens so that they could report their problems without any fear or difficulty.
However, these irrelevant and unnecessary messages not only waste the time and energy of the police, but also detract attention from the actual problems and issues, he added. He appealed to the citizens to avoid sending irrelevant messages on the helpline.
Karachi police chief Ameer Sheikh said the system would work even if one complaint in a 1,00 was genuine. He said a system may be established in the future where all kinds of complaints could be addressed.
He advised people to avoid sending unnecessary complaints on the WhatsApp number, saying complainants’ numbers would be blocked after three fake complaints.
He said a woman complained that her son was showing her messages to her sisters-in-law. “What can the police do about such a matter?” he asked.
Many people waste the time of policemen by sending such complaints, Sheikh said.