Guwahati: Assam police is rightly cashing in on Twitter to raise awareness about things that matter. The state police have concocted a hot-selling recipe of humour, pop culture and information to connect with the masses and be on their most-followed Twitter handles.
Last week, the micro-blogging site bore witness to this ease in connectivity, after its Dima Hasao branch conducted anti-liqour raids at two places recently, both on the basis of inputs given by residents on social media.
The Dima Hasao police tweeted, “Anti liquor raids in Dubiline & Mahadev Tilla where 150 litres of illicit liquor destroyed. Two days back we raided Demalik Razee. The commonality of both raids is that inputs were given by responsible citizens on SM. Thank u good samaritans.”
Not just this, the state police have created a buzz on the platform with its witty and relatable posts. Earlier last month, they tweeted about a “lost” cannabis laden truck, which got a whopping 11,000 re-tweets and counting.
The brains behind these, ADGP Harmeet Singh, said, “While it’s always great to see to see one’s work being appreciated, on a more serious note, it signifies that somewhere we have managed to strike a positive note.”
Singh along with Salik Khan comprise the social media team, who has made Assam police a Twitter celebrity hands down. Their perfect balance of quirk and social message has caught the eyes of many, and has also opened up the doors of conversations for reaching out to the masses.
The beginning of the Twitter fiesta, however, happened due to a terrible incident which took place over a year ago. Two youths from Guwahati — Abhijit Nath and Nilotpal Das — were lynched to death in Karbi Anglong district on suspicion of being child lifters. The musicians died at the hands of their own people.
Fake news fuelled their killing, and it was to control this rumour mill that the state police changed its social media game plan. The Assam Police SMART Social Media Centre for cyber patrolling called ‘Nagarik Mitra’ was launched and hundreds of profiles across social media platforms were scanned and zeroed in for spreading fake news.
Reaching out to people is equally important as is serving them, and to get in sync with them, Assam police mingled pop culture, quirks, and movies like Sacred Games, Avengers Endgame, Bohemian Rhapsody and Gully Boy with social messages. “We try and come up with ideas based on what’s popular,” said the ADGP.
Singh attributes the success of Assam police’s outreach programme to CM Sonowal. “All the initiatives are inspired by the chief minister, even the Jaatri Mitra app was his idea.” He said that the CM takes personal interest and even suggests ideas for the social media posts.
Recently, the state launched a highway helpline app called Jaatri Mitra, a one-stop assistant for travellers on highways in the state, with data on medical facilities, toilets, ATMs, petrol pumps, police stations and restaurants along the highways.
The 1992 batch IPS officer said, “Our first campaign called ‘The Think Campaign’ was an attempt to prevent misinformation from being circulated on the Internet and it ran for six months. It was very well-received by people.”
The Think Campaign covered a wide range of subjects — from fake news to cyber safety, from drug abuse to women and child safety, and mob violence. The safety campaigns and the anti-stalking one went viral, and many celebrities like — Kajol, Ajay Devgn and Rohit Shetty — endorsed it, said ADGP Singh, who leads the ‘Nagarik Mitra’ unit.
Assam Police’s most successful campaign by far has been the Queen campaign. “It would have been impossible to imagine that we will be staring at 1.9 million impressions, 11k [11,000] re-tweets, 30k [30,000] likes on Twitter, and more than a 4,00,000 reach on Facebook and 15k+ [15,000 plus] engagement on Instagram in just two days,” Singh said.
“This was said to be a first of its kind social media campaign against fake news by a police force in India,” Singh added.
Assam police has recurring campaigns on issues women and child protection, fake news and drugs, among others. For children’s safety, it partnered with UNICEF India and UTSAH NGO and ran a month-long campaign on issues related to cyber crime among young people.
The social media team is handled by a two-man army comprising Singh and Khan. While the former is the boss who runs the show, the latter is a creative consultant and a wizard. IPS officer Prateek Thube also handled the back-end and helped the centre take off in the beginning.
Nudging us back to reality, the ADGP said that the pros of Internet does not make one forget the cons, after-all it’s a “doubled-edged sword”. Nonetheless, Assam police’s social media journey has been an interesting one. The team is constantly learning and trying to reach the masses. “It’s not easy, but there’s no easy route to hard work,” Singh said.
In 2018, it won the FICCI Smart Policing Award 2018 — for smart protection unit.
On its strategy, Singh said, “There are really no fixed rules, our strategy has been simple, that is, to understand our audience and try to reach them in a language and manner that they can relate to.”
Regarding the future plans for his team, Singh said, “In the coming days, we plan to debut on Reddit, some police departments from the US and the UK are already hosting Ask Me Anything or AMAs on Reddit. It allows conversations that you can’t have on Facebook or Twitter.”
The Assam Police, much like Mumbai Police, is doing a marvelous job on Twitter. Its fan following is across states and growing, which works as a major booster for the force.