‘Operation Bhains Chori’: WhatsApp group in Rajasthan curbing buffalo theft
The WhatsApp group aptly called “Operation Bhains” has a buffalo’s image for profile picture and includes villagers and victims of buffalo theft apart from the area policemen among its 63 members.Updated: Sep 26, 2019, 18:05 IST
A police station in Rajasthan’s Jaipur district is using social media application WhatsApp for preventing buffalo theft cases and winning back the trust of the communities it serves, quite successfully.
The group aptly called “Operation Bhains Chori” has a buffalo’s image for profile picture and includes villagers and victims of buffalo theft apart from the area policemen among its 63 members.
Created on May 5, 2019, the group created synergies ensuring it was not called to action between May 5 and September 15, when the latest case of a missing buffalo surfaced after a four month period of relative calm.
Jaipur registered the most number of buffalo theft cases at 64 out of a total of 132 cases across the state in 2019. It is followed by 38 cases in Alwar; 32 in Bharatpur; 30 in Kota-Rural and 19 in Karauli. Only 89 out of the 310 stolen buffaloes have been recovered so far, reflecting the challenge faced by the police. 16 out of Jaipur’s 64 missing-buffalo cases are registered with the Shivdaspura police station, that came up with the WhatsApp-group idea.
The Station House Officer (SHO) of Shivdaspura police station Inder Raj Marodia says the Whatsapp group has helped in bringing down buffalo-theft cases by facilitating regular checking, patrolling and coordination between the public and the police.
Explaining how it works, Marodia said it was all about support and coordination – the beat constable or the patrolling party updates its location on the group and the villagers report any incident, information or suspicion. “The group has helped in immediate contact, swift action and above all, confidence building between people and the police,” he said.
A Shivdaspura police station personnel, on condition of anonymity, threw more light on the complexity of the problem and said that it was difficult to stop buffalo theft cases altogether since the area around the cattle farms was open and close to a highway making stealing convenient. “A buffalo fetches between Rs 60,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh,” he said before adding that its identification and recovery was another problem. “Even if a stolen buffalo is found, identifying the rightful owner is an issue,” he said.