Fostering better communication with Adivasi communities in the Nilgiris, the district police are conducting awareness campaigns about COVID-19, and about crimes against women and children, in the language the communities communicate with each other.
“When I used to visit Adivasi communities, it would be extremely hard to communicate with them in Tamil and we would have to use a translator to get our message across to them. This got us thinking that it would be much more effective to conduct awareness campaigns in their own language,” said Nilgiris District Superintendent of Police, V. Sasi Mohan.
The police took a count of their personnel and home guards recruited from Adivasi communities in the district. “We have personnel from most of the Adivasi communities including the Todas, Kotas, Kurumbas, Irulas and Paniyas working with the district police in some capacity,” said the SP.
Starting with awareness campaigns in March and April aimed at spreading the message of COVID-19 prevention among Adivasis, the police translated their entire message from Tamil and English to the languages of the communities with the help of community members working with the district police. Following the success of this endeavour, the police are now conducting awareness campaigns on crimes against women and children, including sensitising the communities to the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Mr. Sasi Mohan said the efforts of the district police to “break the ice” and foster better communication between the police and local communities was yielding results. “While this effort is not the sole reason, our continuous efforts at outreach aimed at Adivasi communities is helping us detect crimes. There have been more complaints registered with the police this year when compared to previous years, especially offences committed against women and children in Gudalur, Devala and Pandalur. This could indicate that more people are feeling comfortable enough to approach the local police with their complaints,” he said.