Community Policing of Kolkata Police – Bonding with Trust, Care and Empathy

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                                                                                              Ranabir Bhattacharyya

In July this year, in a heart-warming gesture, the Kolkata Police Commissioner gifted a new violin to Bhagaban Mali, a street musician, who had gone viral for beautiful renditions of old Bollywood songs on the instrument around the Girish Park area. There have been innumerable incidents where the Kolkata Police stood by the needy, the marginalised and deprived sections of society. The social media handle of the Kolkata Police testifies to such humanitarian incidents and netizens have applauded the efforts of the men and women in uniform in Kolkata Police for such dedicated efforts in executing their duties with dedication and social commitment.

In India, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the nature of policing and public-relation of the police. From enforcing lockdown rules to supplying food items to the marginalised and lonely and Covid infected families, community policing has bridged the gap with a human touch. Interestingly, the Kolkata Police has been way ahead than other police forces of the country with a series of socially inclusive initiatives, much before the pandemic changed the face of policing.

From a broader perspective, the community policing initiatives of Kolkata Police can be divided into four categories namely education, health, sports and security. With an aim to provide ‘proactive policing’ with a human touch and care, schemes like Nabadisha, Probaho, Friendship Cup Football Tournament, Kiran, Pronam, Kolkata Goalz, Sampark have received accolades all over.

The ‘Sampark’ initiative has been immensely successful in inculcating awareness among the youth on the existing system of law and order in the city. In the pre-Covid phase, selected school students were invited to visit local police stations as well the Kolkata Police Headquarter. The ‘Jano Sanjog Sabha’ has been another useful forum organised at the micro-level where the community members and police discuss local problems. Not only that, the Thana level Advisory Committee comprising local doctors, lawyers, teachers, people’s representatives have been a vital addition to grass-root policing where police officers often council, mediate and discuss preventative criminal awareness measures.

In the pre-Covid time, the Friendship Cup Football Tournament became massively popular in the ‘para’ circuit, where community participation was overwhelmingly encouraging. The Kolkata Goalz project also focused on football and bringing young people into the mainstream fold of society. The 6-month long computer training for the lesser-privileged children under Project Kiran has been pivotal and more than 2500 boys and girls have passed out from the Kiran centres.

The self-defence training programme named Sukanya also received a very good response from the girl students in Kolkata and its adjacent areas. In fact, ‘Tejashwini’, the signature self-defence workshop for women organised by the Kolkata Police became an instant hit among the masses.

Moreover, Project ‘Pronam’ has been an excellent addition by Kolkata Police which aims to provide valuable legal and medical assistance to the senior citizens of the ‘City of Joy’. In the pandemic phase, with the dedication and commitment of men and women in uniform, Project Pronam extended its horizon to bigger quarters, from providing emergency help to providing food items. There has been an increasing trend in the registration of the members in the Project Pronam.

The ‘Nabadisha’ project of the Kolkata Police which looks to bring together all the stakeholders of the society for year-long educational and healthcare programmes for the vulnerable children in the streets of Kolkata, has been a much-needed effort to motivate and assure the street children. This year, the Kolkata Police has come up with a unique initiative.

Dr Tanmay Ray Chaudhuri, IPS, Additional Commissioner of Police said,” We have already initiated ‘Cholo Kheli’ which includes professional and amateur photographers clicking photos of the street children. We will frame the photographs and give them as Christmas gifts to them. This whole initiative will help us in getting a database of the street children, which will enable us to reach out to them with conspicuous social benefits in the near future. At present we are doing it in collaboration with the NGO TRISYS.”

It must be admitted and appreciated that the Kolkata Police never spared any effort in working with utmost dedication and commitment to motivate the underprivileged children to constructive activities instead of surrendering to the incrimination which once characterised the life of such unfortunate victims of the society from children to adults. Life without morality and philanthropy is a contradiction. The Kolkata Police is never oblivious of this truth and that is why it looks forward to more encouraging and constructive efforts of the socially alienated people to smile and profile with dignity and courage in the days to come.