632 petitions filed with the Cyber Cell for mobile phone abuse in 2012
A teacher at one of the colleges in the city was not prepared for what she saw after she decided to inspect the mobile phone of her student. She had heard a ‘click’ while writing something on the blackboard. Inspection showed many photographs of not just her, but other teachers as well.
The incident is only an indicator of how youth in the city are misusing mobile phones.
In 2012, 632 petitions were filed with the Cyber Cell for abuse of mobile phones in Ernakulam district. The number was 659 in 2011. However, none of petitions progressed to cases being registered. It has been noticed in complaints related to misuse of mobile phones, especially where the offenders were teenagers, the complainants refuse to proceed with punitive action.
Officials in the City Police said that a majority of the offenders were in their 20s.
The numbers are hardly indicative of the scale of mobile phone abuse happening in the city. Not all cases of mobile phone abuse are charged. Police officials often let off offenders with a strict warning as the criminals are, in many cases, minors or college students.
The crimes range from prank calls to circulating photos of classmates in compromising positions. While the former are usually considered harmless by many, circulation of pictures on mobile phones can have a devastating effect on the victim.
Psychiatrist Ajeesh Ramachandran said that students used pictures clicked on their mobile phones to blackmail others and a few victims had committed suicide due to the embarrassment caused.
The mobile phone had become an easy and fast method for adolescents to experiment and let out their sexual anxieties, he said. “An innate curiosity and a tendency to rebel lead them to misuse phones. The mobile phone becomes a toy in the hands of computer-savvy youth.”
Youngsters also use phones to access pornographic websites blocked on their school or home computers. There is good demand for phones that can receive and play videos in the second-hand market where they are sold cheaply.
A cleaner of a private bus plying on a rural route was found in possession of such a phone recently. The youth was so engrossed in watching the screen of his mobile phone that he forgot to ring the bell at a bus stop. A ruckus followed, but the youth remained glued to the gadget. An enraged passenger snatched the phone away only to see a porn video playing on the phone.
Interestingly, almost 90 per cent of the offenders picked up for misuse of mobile phones stopped repeating the crime after they were summoned to the police station and warned of consequences.
Another disturbing trend that the police have observed is the use of multiple mobile phone connections, a clear indicator of laxity on the part of the service providers in activating connections without proper identity and address proofs. It is not unusual that investigators reach dead-ends during probes when mobile phone connections are found to be activated using fake or wrong identification documents.