Updated: August 10, 2020 7:05:00 am
A call from Facebook’s Ireland headquarters Saturday night had three DCPs in Delhi and Mumbai, and a police inspector and his wife, on their toes and their phones till early Sunday morning — before they finally managed to pull a 25-year-old man in Mumbai back from the brink of suicide.
On Saturday evening, the man started putting up several ‘Facebook Live’ videos of him wanting to attempt suicide. At 7.51 pm, DCP (Cyber Cell-Delhi) Anyesh Roy received the call from Ireland. “It was from a Facebook official who said they had identified suicidal activity on an account belonging to a Delhi resident. The official shared IP logs, the Facebook account, videos the user has posted, and a phone number registered with the account. We immediately started tracking the number…in such cases, time is crucial,” said Roy.
The number was traced to Mandawali, an East Delhi locality, and Roy approached DCP (East) Jasmeet Singh. “The Station House Officer of Madhu Vihar nearby rushed across to the address and found a woman who had no clue about the videos. She said the account was registered in her number, but was being used by her husband who had left for Mumbai two weeks ago after a fight with her. She didn’t know where he was staying in Mumbai,” said Singh.
By 9.30 pm, Dr Rashmi Karandikar, DCP (Cyber) in Mumbai, had been apprised about the case by Roy. “The man’s wife gave us his number, and I kept calling but either it was switched off or he wouldn’t take the calls… I had one team trying to trace the number and find his location, and Inspector Pramod Khopikar from my unit calling the man and his wife continuously,” she said.
Khopikar says he was at home with his wife having dinner when he received a call from his DCP. After several unsuccessful calls to the man, he asked the wife to “leave him emotional voice notes, photos of their child, and to inform him as soon as she sees a ‘blue tick’.”
“Around 11.30 pm, she said he had seen her messages. Then I asked her to call him, and guided her on how to add me on a conference call. It didn’t work, so I called him and added her to the conversation, while a team traced his location. For over an hour, he cried and argued with his wife and I listened. He kept saying he wanted to end his life and had tried twice already. In the meantime, we found his location in Bhayandar, and asked the local police to rush across,” said Khopikar.
“He was stressed about money as his salary had gone down considerably since the Covid outbreak; he was also very anxious about getting the virus. The trick was to keep him engaged, and tell him that he is loved and cared for by his wife, and all of us in Delhi and Mumbai Police,” he said.
When Khopikar felt his words weren’t working, he got his own wife on the call to counsel the couple. “She told him how she and I fight but are still together. He said he feared he might get the virus, so my wife lied to him and said I had already got it and survived. When he said he was facing financial trouble, I told him I have a car registered with Ola and he can drive that. I told him that Mumbai Police is always with him, and asked his wife to come to Mumbai,” said Khopikar.
By 3 am, Bhayandar Police personnel reached the 25-year-old and counselled him. “It was only when I was convinced that he was doing okay that I cut the call. On Sunday morning, at 10 am, I called again to check on him. He’s doing better and thanked us profusely. But still, I will keep a tab on him,” said Khopikar.
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