Man talking on the phone. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Pixabay

On July 10, panic spread amongst Mumbai residents, in India, as several of them got calls from a man named "Rishi" who claimed to be a witness to a murder. However, they soon found out that it was a promotional ‘prank' by an online streaming platform to promote an upcoming show, and Maharashtra residents and the police are not happy.

Mumbai Police’s cyber department told local media outlets that it asked Sony LIV, the streaming service, to stop the promotional activity after receiving a flood of calls from distressed residents.

The main control room of Mumbai Police started getting calls from people in the afternoon, saying that they had received strange calls from numbers starting with 140 or 40.

One of the receivers of the calls, Mumbai resident Vaibhav Pawar, told news agency Press Trust of India that around 4pm a man who identified himself as "Rishi'' called him, begging for help, saying that he had witnessed a murder and recorded the incident on mobile phone. The killer was now trying to kill him, the caller said.

Several people received similar calls, unaware of the promotional stunt used to hype Sony Liv's new crime thriller series ‘Undekhi'.

Many took to Twitter to write about it, with the hashtag #MurderCall, and tagged the Mumbai Police's Twitter handle.

Tweep @s_pabari wrote: “You should take some, at least some action against Sony Liv so next time they or any other media or person don't do such nonsense! My wife panicked due to this! She had received call from 140.”

Responding to a flurry of tweets, @MumbaiPolice, condemned the act, adding that appropriate action will be taken: “The era of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ is a passé. Any publicity creating panic amongst citizens and suggesting a threat to their security will be dealt with necessary severity. Hope the fake calls for promotions aren’t bothering you any longer, Mumbaikars #SoNotDone”

A day after the publicity stunt, on July 11, Sony Liv, @SonyLIV, tweeted an apology: “Sony Liv deeply regrets the recent promotional test activity for its show ‘Undekhi’ which has caused anguish to some people. Our intention was never to cause distress to anyone. We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused and offer our apologies. @MumbaiPolice @MahaCyber1”