This police officer from Guwahati is now using Facebook and Twitter to connect with people in real time. An interview with ACP Ponjit Dowarah.

ACP Ponjit Dowarah, Jalukbari, Guwahati
If one wants to successfully run any organization, s/he can't afford to ignore the importance of social media. And that's especially a fact if one is a running a police department. In many countries and certain cities in India, police have started taking help of social media to solve crimes and to help find missing, endangered or distressed people. Social media provides a platform for police officers to share information quickly and respond to tips from civilians. And Ponjit Dowarah, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Jalukbari, Guwahati, with the similar thought process has come up with the idea of using the social media platforms to help people reach him or his department during distress or emergency. His Facebook page has gained a good amount of followers and much respect since its inception in February, 2017.

How did you come up with the idea of starting a Facebook Page for grievances and complaints? And why?

The gulf between public and police is still in existence even after all the conventional methods of connecting with people like holding police-public meetings etc. The surging rise of social media and the positive use of it worldwide have helped me come up with the idea of opening a Facebook page after joining as the ACP, Jalukbari. Although the seed of the idea originated in Sivasagar where I was working as Deputy Superintendent of Police. Everyday I saw people thronging into the police stations with their problems, which according to me, could have been redressed in real time had there been a digital platform where they could share the same. Later when I got transferred to Guwahati it was easier for me to created the Facebook page.

Is this the first page of this kind on Facebook to be created by an official of Assam Police?

I don't have any authentic idea whether this is the first of its kind opened by an official of Assam Police. I am focussed on my work and will continue to do so.

Are people responding? Are you getting complaints through this platform, and are those complaints being addressed?

The response from the public is immense and mind boggling. Some of the grievances have also popped up from different parts of the state and I have tried to route the complaints whatsoever to the concerned authorities and departments.

The main motive of opening this page is not only to entertain the grievances but also to listen to the complaints against the department as well. The complaints against us, if legitimate, are actually good for our upgradation and for tuning up our professional aptitude.

Do you think Assam Police can be benefitted by using the social media in dealing with crime and criminals? Do you think using social media like Facebook or Twitter, Assam Police can come a step closer to people?

I always see the brighter side of the things, and why only Assam Police, even other departments can also reap the benefits. Regarding lowering of crime rates and other things, I am of the view, that only time will give us a clear picture whether such digital platforms will be of any help. But I am optimistic. Social media is the new boon and the dividends that we can garner from it is unimaginable. The information sharing at real time saves valuable time of both public and the authorities. The social media can be a helpful tool to disseminate any information in the interest of public.

Any message for the people of Assam?

Be safe and be happy. Also, be the eyes of your neighborhood and always call the police to report any crime or suspicious activities.

Follow Ponjit Dowarah on Facebook and Twitter

An interview by Jim Ankan Deka