Guwahati: From Hamlet and James Bond to Iron Man and Captain America — all have been ”partners” of the Assam Police in fighting crime and generating awareness against social ills.
Not to forget the helping hand lent by ‘DJ Lockup’ in checking drunken driving, which has earned international recognition.
These heroes and superheroes haven’t stepped out of their fictional worlds, but are being featured in social media campaigns of Assam Police to connect more easily with the people in a bid to promote awareness, an ally to law enforcement.
Policing is all about action, or so one thinks until coming across the campaigns being churned out by the state’s police force with popular Hindi phrases — ”Hum Do, Hamare Do” and ”Ek Aur Ek Gyarah” — tweaked to get across the messages.
Police Commissioner of Guwahati Harmeet Singh told PTI, ”Our idea is to work together with society and impress upon the people that following rules is in everybody’s own interest.” ”We wanted to connect with the people and we have been trying to put across our messages in a language and an idiom that is understood across generations and the entire spectrum,” he said.
Be it the campaign against drunk driving on New Year’s Eve or the one on helmets for two-wheeler riders, the messages have not just drawn praise but also inspired police forces in different parts of the country and even abroad, to launch similar campaigns.
The campaign against drunk or rash driving on New Year’s Eve, which featured a creative imitating a New Year’s party poster, mentioning ”special performance by DJ Lockup” and an invitation ”not to be our guests”, inspired not just police forces from other parts of the country — UP, Punjab and Shimla — but also from Uganda to post similar messages.
The latest campaign on wearing helmets by pillion riders with the phrase ”Hum Do Hamare Do Helmet”, has also been well-received by the people.
The helmet safety campaign has seen a creative of Shakespeare’s Hamlet — ”To be or not to be!”, with the police urging the public ”Don’t be Hamlet. Always wear a Helmet”.
Another features photos of Iron Man and Captain America with the question ”Your child’s heroes go to work wearing a helmet. Do you?” James Bond joins Assam Police in a ”No Time For Violence” appeal, while legendary Queen singer Freddie Mercury features in a tweaked poster of the film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, urging people not to fall victim to fake news and fact-check before forwarding any message.
The state police force’s intensified ‘war on drugs’ campaign has also featured many eye-catching creatives and memes, including one in which the police appealed for people’s support by stating, ”Public aur Police Ek aur Ek Gyarah hai… aur Drugs ke karobar karnewalon ko Nau-Do-Gyarah karna hai!” The power of social media to not only connect but also ensure a positive two-way engagement with the citizens is being worked upon to the maximum by the Assam Police, Singh said.
”Social media is a two-way medium and our response on it has been quick. We are perhaps among the handful of police forces where even topmost police officials respond promptly to public queries on social media and send forth help,” he said.
”This quick connect with the people has been particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the lockdowns, where we were able to serve the people in the best possible manner,” he added.
The campaigns on traffic rules awareness have been very fruitful and as envisioned by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the police were able to ensure an incident-free New Year and Bhogali Bihu Uruka celebration (on January 13 and 14) in Guwahati, Singh said.
”We are working towards commuter ease and safety. Everyone has an equal right on the road and we want to sensitise people about this, so as to ensure their own as well as everyone else’s safety,” the commissioner said.
Challans for fines amounting to Rs 17.98 crore have been issued from August last year till January 12 in Guwahati itself, with a whopping Rs 4.21 crore in December when the campaign against rash driving was intensified.
As many as 793 cases of drunk driving have been registered in the city from December 22 to January 12, and 13,564 cases of helmet violations during the same period.
”The drive has ensured that the festivities around New Year were enjoyed safely by everyone. We shall be continuing it with the same zeal throughout,” Singh said.
”In January, the helmet and drunk driving violations are declining due to the December sensitisation and enforcement,” he said, adding that focus will now be turned on to wearing seat belts.
Behind the eye-catching social media campaigns is a team of young consultants, working closely with a group of Assam Police officials with Singh at the fore.
Tituraj Kashyap Das and Salik Khan are engaged as creative consultants, while Vishal More lends the tech support.
”It’s a team effort. We have separate teams for Guwahati Police and Assam Police. Perhaps, my theatre background has helped,” Singh, who is credited for the campaigns, sad with a smile.
The officer said Assam Police has shared space with brands such as Google, Amul and Toyota as creators of top memes of the year by different forums.