Guwahati, May 7: Assam Police have decided to work with the Assam State Commission for Women to revive its Project Prahari (vigilant), which involves community policing to do away with menace such as witch-hunting.
Director-general of police Shankar Barua, while speaking at a meeting on witch-hunting today, said merely enforcing law would not stop witch-hunting.
He said there was no option other than community policing, involving social groups and organisations, to bring an end to this menace.
Project Prahari, launched in 2001, was extremely successful in the initial years and the incidents of witch-hunting witnessed a drastic reduction in 50 villages located in Kokrajhar, Sirang, Goalpara, Udalguri, Baksa and Sonitpur districts. But the project ran into rough weather after 2006, allegedly because of the reluctance of the top brass in Assam Police to continue the same.
“Soon after the recent incidents of witch-hunting in Kokrajhar district, I instructed the superintendents of police of all districts to work together with the women’s commission to implement Project Prahari. In the UK, there are special police officers dedicated to community policing, to identify and solve problems that are different from day-to-day criminal activities. Although such a concept is not prevalent in India, we must go for community policing with the existing resources,” he said.
The chairperson of the women’s commission, Mridula Saharia, said a single government department or organisation could not eradicate witch-hunting, considering the fact that this social evil was not confined to a few people of a particular community. She said there was an urgent need for a concerted effort to do away with the menace.
She suggested that the police should set up a special cell to train women to protect themselves from becoming victims of witch-hunting, eve-teasing and other social menaces.
The additional director-general of police (communication), Assam Police, Kula Saikia, who was the man behind Project Prahari, said besides the police and social organisations, the media could play a pivotal role in preventing witch-hunting, because although witch-hunting had been prevalent since ages, society become aware of it only after newspapers started reporting about such incidents prominently.
“Project Prahari was very successful in its initial years and it would become more vibrant with the women’s commission joining the endeavour,” Saikia said.
Original Story: The Telegraph, India