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Time for new-age policing

Bidhannagar City Police is trying its best to reach out to the young and elderly in the township and develop a stronger sense of community

kolkata Updated: Sep 10, 2012 11:41 IST

The satellite township of Salt Lake has a character unlike the rest of the city. Here, people do not care to interact much with their neighbours and property owners do not know much about the tenant/s they rent out their apartment to. In the absence of this communication, community bonding has not developed much in the township. Thus, when an untoward incident takes place at a apartment here, the resident usually is left to fight it out alone.

But this secluded lifestyle undergoes a temporary change as Durga Puja approaches. People living in a block come together at this time of the year to organise functions for Puja and celebrate the city’s biggest festival together at community puja pandals.

Community programmes and lunches are organised during the four days of the festival to strengthen the ties among those living here. But everything is back to square one as the festivities come to an end. With few people come out of their homes to help build a healthy para culture, criminals are finding a footing in Salt Lake.

In an effort to change the situation for the better, police had started organising meetings and interactive sessions with the township residents about six years ago. The sessions aimed at knowing the people better, listening to and addressing their problems and developing a better sense of community life among them. But these meetings were held only for some time.

“To improve relations between the residents and the police, we are planning to restart the meetings and interactive sessions with the residents. It will help us in getting more information about the area and ideas for solving their problems,” said Shanti Das, additional commissioner of police, detective department, Bidhannagar.

“We have started interacting with the people through our Facebook page, where we listen to their problems, register complaints and provide them with details of action taken on the complaints,” said Das.

To help the elderly in Bidhannagar, a voluntary service has also been started by Bidhannagar police. Named Saanjhbaati, it is a platform where the elderly — who constitute the majority in Bidhannagar — come together to express their feelings. At present, elderly are working on the group’s upcoming magazine by contributing songs, poems and articles for it. Saanjhbaati also provides free medical support and ambulance service to the elderly in the township.

“We are also planning a Bijoy Sammilani for the members of Saanjhbati after Durga Puja. Furthermore, we have plans of publishing a directory of Saanjhbaati members, who at present are more than 750 in number,” said Das.

Talking about other initiatives taken by the police to increase their interaction with localites, Das said, “When we return lost mobile phones and laptops to people, we ask them to fill up a form where they can opt to participate in different awareness campaigns of Bidhannagar City Police.”

“We are also organising cyber-safety-awareness programmes for the young in educational institutions. We warn them about the probable ways in which they could end up committing crime on the Internet without their knowledge,” added the officer.

The police have also organised programmes on women’s security and safety at several MNCs in Sector V, as many women work at BPOs on night shift there. “These programmes include interactive sessions with corporate executives to know their problems and suggest them on how to tackle these,” said Das.

For several years now, to ensure safety of citizens, ‘green police’ regularly patrols the lanes and bylanes on bicycles in Salt Lake. Every police station has about six ‘green police’ patrol parties apart from patrol parties that go out for rounds on four wheelers and motorbikes.

Das added that their initiatives have got a mixed response from the residents so far. A vital issue on which the people are yet to cooperate effectively with the police is — submitting details like name, address and photograph of their domestic helps in the local police station.

The police are preparing a list of dos and don’ts for the people to make them aware about potential threats to their safety.

Meanwhile, to improve the people-police-relationship, the police organised an anti-drug awareness programme in July. Celebrities like footballer Mehtab Hossain and actor Saheb Chatterjee participated in it to encourage school students to live a healthy life and refrain from taking drugs.