I am analysing two police issues. Both have reasons to state that community policing and community support can help detect crime to make all the difference between failure and success. In the first issue, it has already succeeded.
In the second, it can fast-forward success to the huge advantage of Punjab in particular and the nation as a whole.
Let me turn to the first one -- This is about the disappearance of a three-year-old girl, Jhanvi, from the India Gate lawns in New Delhi on September 28. She had come with her parents to the place. While being with her parents, she suddenly disappeared in the evening. She was last seen in the CCTV footage at 9.21pm. Afterwards, the roving camera did not capture her.
The parents searched for her for hours on their own and informed the police too. Both started their frantic search for the lost child.
The father took to the social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to seek help to find Jhanvi. People on the social network started their own efforts to search for her.
I, too, retweeted a similar request to three million persons.
Good news is that she has been found and is back with her parents.
Let us see how? What made this possible, even though the culprits have not been caught so far?
Kidnappers under pressure
Jhanvi’s kidnappers left her at a gurdwara with a placard around her neck, saying, “This is Jhanvi, missing from her home, someone please unite her with her family.”
What does this indicate? On the face of it, it indicates that the pressure of e-community was too much to bear for the kidnappers! The child was all over on TV and media debates. There was such an outrage that the kidnappers could not keep the child any longer, even though they tried to hide her identity by getting her head tonsured. The scare of getting identified was too much.
I am not ignoring what the police did. Because they went on in all other directions too. Hospitals, orphanages, beggars’ residences, metro CCTV checks, tracing of old gangs, reward announcements, poster distribution, specific cells, and more. But the real big credit needs to go to community pressure created via TV networks, TV debates and the social network.
The message is: we have reached a stage of e-community policing to the extent that it compelled the kidnappers to surrender the child.
Also learnt is that e-community keeps the police under pressure to keep at it. They, therefore, remained focused.
However, to ensure crime prevention, the police must regularly upgrade technology and have overlapping cameras with better night vision lens. Also, to ensure better municipal lights where families and all others visit at night in particular.
Drug abuse in Punjab
Now the second issue: the challenge of drug abuse in Punjab. I am aware that thousands are being rounded up daily by the state police for drug abuse, peddling, or trafficking. The treatment centres are overflowing. The courts are overwhelmed. The prisons, too, are full of drug addicts and drug peddlers. The Punjab chief minister is believed to be taking personal interest in closely reviewing the progress being made in this area.
But my concern is -- after care. Rehabilitation and future prevention.
And a very convincing method came from Aamir Khan’s TV programme Satyamev Jayate: reaching out to the youth through sports.
If the police, education authorities, schools, colleges, universities, village pradhans, even civil society groups, individually and collectively, enable sports competitions, beginning with villages and educational institutions, will the youth easily slip into drugs? The youth need energetic outlets! What could be better than team sports?
All the police have to do is have periodic meetings in different villages to encourage sports. Even play with them. Punjab can afford to get a football for the boys. Encourage them to play! It’s a team sport. And Punjab villages have grounds to play.
And then in such forums, the police can inform residents to report to the control room (toll-free, 181) of any drug consumption or sale!
This control room is not a police control room but outsourced to civilian management. They record each call, pass it on to respective seniors and then cross-check on action taken and revert to the complainant to check the satisfaction level. This then is reviewed again at higher levels.
They also have Saanjh centres where one can walk to record a complaint.
All this needs is community policing support and understanding now, if Punjab has to get its youth back – healthy and fit cops; army jawans, hockey champions, athletes, and hard-working agriculturists and other professionals.
Jhanvi was recovered thanks to the e-community crusade, besides all other support.
Punjab, too, will recover from drug abuse or sale by a community crusade with technology support!
We in India just have to take up crime prevention and other relevant causes specific to our areas as movements such as Swachh Bharat and Surakshit Bharat, and create a culture of cleanliness and security through community involvement. Only then will the aspiration of ‘Sabh ka Saath’, ‘Sabh ka Vikas’ and ‘Sabh ka Sudhaar’ be achieved!