To curb the menace of impostors procuring press cards and extorting the public, Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik has asked police stations to list all local publications and journalists to ensure authenticity
Taking a serious view of the increasing number of cases of fake reporters who threaten and extort the public in the name of the press, the Mumbai police has decided to keep a check on all local publications. Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik has recently issued a circular to all police stations to list all such local publications in their respective jurisdictions and verify their reporters' credentials.
In the last three months, over 15 arrests in cases relating to impersonation of journalists were reported in the western suburbs and over 25 in the eastern suburbs. Cases have been reported in Navi Mumbai as well.
A high-ranking police officer from the west zone said, "The circular instructs all police stations to not just list and verify each publication, but also give details like the name of the editor, the proprietor, and the reporters on the newspaper's payroll. This would ensure authenticity of each employee and to curb cases of fake reporters involved in extortion and other crimes."
Last month, the Nagpada police arrested a 35-year-old for impersonating a crime reporter and extorting money from shop owners in Kamathipura. Recently, a person claiming to be a reporter from a local newspaper from the Nalasopara area almost got an RPF constable arrested, after the accused made a call to a lady constable professing his love for her.
Giving an insight into how the entire operation runs, Senior Inspector Rakesh Sharma said, "We have observed that many people register titles in the name of a publication, print press id cards, and sell it to unqualified people like grocers, even goons. These people then use the press cards to threaten people to do their bidding, and extort money from them." Sharma has arrested five such reporters from Goregaon for asking for free ration.
The officer also said that many of these publications, irrespective or being a daily, weekly or a monthly, print a minimal number of copies carrying stories against people who refuse to pay up. Theses copies are distributed at police stations to brew trouble for those not complying with the so-called reporters.
"We have arrested many people who pose as reporters and commit crimes thinking that we would not check the credentials of the reporter so would be able to escape scot-free. However, after this circular we will be alert and would be able to prevent such crimes," said another officer from the city police on condition of anonymity.
When approached to comment on the matter, Manohar Dalvi, spokesperson of Mumbai police said, "I will check and get back to you." However, he was inaccessible later.
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