Maharashtra police tackle fake news head-on in Chandrapur and Dhule

Updated: Jul 08, 2018, 15:10 IST | Rahul Mahajani

Cops in Chandrapur and Dhule use van and town criers to sensitise locals about dangers of social media

Maharashtra police tackle fake news head-on in Chandrapur and Dhule
The van, which is being used by the Chandrapur Police, to travel to villages

In an attempt to thwart rumour-mongering on social media, the Chandrapur and Dhule police have initiated a drive to sensitise people to the dangers of fake news. In Chandrapur, officials are travelling to remote villages in a special van, which has officials of the cyber cell, as well as senior police staff. The van covers just one village daily, with officials spending at least three to five hours educating the villagers.

Speaking to mid-day, Niyati Thaker, superintendent of police (Chandrapur), said that the campaign was started two weeks ago. Initially, it was only to make people aware of cyber crimes involving internet banking, ATM cards, etc. "But, in the same week, we decided to address rumour-mongering and how people are being affected by it," said Thaker.

The police are also discussing the use of social media platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. "We have been educating them on how videos are morphed and how messages are spread and that they need to verify details with the police patil of the village or with the police station or control room, before sharing it with others or taking matters in their own hands," said an official.

With this new initiative, the Chandrapur Police hopes to tackle mob-lynching cases that are currently causing havoc across the country. If the campaign is successful, it could be introduced in the remaining parts of the state.

Meanwhile, the police in Dhule district, have roped in the 'kotwals' (village criers who make public announcements), as part of their awareness campaign. "We understood that we needed to penetrate deep inside the families of these villagers. Hence, we also roped in the 'kotwals' to spread our message. These people have been asked to tell villagers to not believe any of the rumours," said Dhule's Superintendent of Police M Ramkumar. Pamphlets are also being distributed among the residents of over 1,800 villages in Dhule to educate them on fake news.

With agency inputs

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