While many blame the police for not tackling the violence that erupted in Bengaluru on September 12 over the Cauvery issue, the Bengaluru police’s social media team has received much praise for its online presence and effectivity.
From the start of the troubles, the Bengaluru City Police social media team was firefighting rumours and keeping social media users well-informed about the developing situation.
The police also took that online engagement a step forward, asking people to provide crowd-sourced images and videos with which perpetrators of violence could be identified and caught.
An official in the social media team, who did not wish to be named, said that during the September 9 bandh, and the violence on the following Monday, they had urged people to send visuals and images of violence or threats to the police WhatsApp number 9480801000, which, until then, was primarily used to address general complaints.
“On September 9, itself we informed people to send visuals of violence and arson to the number. While fewer people messaged on Friday, we received more than 2000 visuals on September 12 alone,” he said.
Over 400 people have been arrested in connection with the violence thus far.
The official added that most of the people taking part in arson were extremely young people, most of them in their early twenties. “The majority of them belong to Karnataka organisations,” he said.
The crowd-sourced information also helped, the officer said, in zeroing down on more than ten areas which were sensitive. “It was based on this information that the curfew was imposed.”
However, the official said, while the response in terms of images of miscreants has been strong from residents in many parts of the city, it was less strong in some of the most affected areas in the north and west zone
“Many people from central, south, south-east and north-east Bengaluru sent visuals of violence. We even got visuals from areas bordering Tamil Nadu. But not much from the north and west zones. The violence spread out in no time in those places,” he said.
He also said that while the visuals helped the police nab many miscreants, the police are also being careful to ensure that none of the visuals are doctored
“We sent a copy of all the visuals to DIG Omprakash’s office on the same day. The next day, copies were sent to senior officials for analysis. There are more arrests to be made in the coming days,” he added.