- Citizen alleges that cops demanded fingerprints
- Commissioner of Police Cyberabad calls it ‘wrong information’
Hyderabad: In what seems to be the peak of a surveillance state, two police officers were found asking for the fingerprints of citizens at Inorbit Mall on January 19 in the evening. The incident came to light when one of the persons took to Twitter, questioning the action of the police.
However, responding to the allegation, Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad said that this was “wrong information”, while calling fingerprint scanning of citizens “a routine activity”.
According to Lakshmi Menon, who had tweeted about the incident, the two police officers had randomly stopped one of their friends and had asked for his fingerprints. Although Lakshmi had questioned the police, to decipher the reason as to why they were collecting fingerprints of random people, she alleged that the officers replied saying it was for an “investigation for a crime.” Apparently, they had also said that they were collecting his fingerprints to check if there was any past criminal activity.
In her tweet, Lakshmi said, “We further asked if the collected fingerprint data would be deleted, and we checked the device but we could not gauge whether the data was deleted or not. The officers refused to tell us the exact reasons for collecting my friend’s fingerprints. We also weren’t made aware under what authority were they taking this action.”
I questioned this as did my other friend. When asked the reason for collecting fingerprints, the officers merely said “investigation for a crime” and they were using his fingerprints to check for past criminal activity 2/n
— Lakshmi Menon (@menon_laksh) January 19, 2020
As soon as the incident was posted on Twitter, several netizens came to the fore criticizing the police. Speaking to NewsMeter, Srinivas Kodali, independent researcher said, “The police is demanding fingerprints of people illegally. This is excessive policing and a violation of citizens’ privacy because there is no crime and the person is not a suspect in any particular case.”
The researcher also went on to say that the police has been doing this for a few years now, however as a part of Operation Chabutra. This ‘operation’ was undertaken by Hyderabad police a few years back to stop youngsters from ‘wandering late at night on the streets without any purpose…becoming victims of criminal activities.’ After picking up such ‘suspicious’ youngsters, the police would take their fingerprints and match it with the police’s criminal records. “The police has done it before, and now I think they are doing it everywhere,” said Kodali.
Speaking to NewsMeter, the Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad said, “The information of fingerprint scanning near Inorbit is wrong. We had done fingerprint scanning in the area near ITC Kohinoor, because there are a lot of construction activities there and many migrants will be coming. We have been able to catch crime through this, and it is not something illegal. This is a routine activity and you should allow us to do it.”
Meanwhile, the Twitter handle of Cyberabad police has asked Madhapar police station to look into the issue.
— Cyberabad Police (@cyberabadpolice) January 19, 2020