Andhra Pradesh government contemplating setting up a social media monitoring centre

Incidents such as the Agniveer riots in Secunderabad and violence in Konaseema spread like wildfire because of the inflammatory posts in the social media, and the idea is to prevent such instances from happening even before they go out of hand, says Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Rajendranath Reddy

June 24, 2023 07:26 pm | Updated 07:26 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Basically, we will focus on what is in public domain without infringing on the privacy rights, says Director General of Police K.V. Rajendranath Reddy.

Basically, we will focus on what is in public domain without infringing on the privacy rights, says Director General of Police K.V. Rajendranath Reddy.

Keeping in mind the rising instances of cybercrime and extensive use of social media to perpetrate the crime, the State government is contemplating starting a social media monitoring centre.

The idea is still in the nascent stage, and various issues are being dealt with, including talking to the service providers, various companies that operate the social media sites and, most importantly, the legality in its scope of operation.

“Basically, we will focus on what is in the public domain without infringing on the privacy rights,” says Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police K.V. Rajendranath Reddy.

Speaking to The Hindu recently, Mr. Rajendranath Reddy particularly referred to the cases such as the Secunderabad ‘Agniveer riots’ and the violence in Konaseema district.

“The riots and the unrest spread like wildfire due to the inflammatory posts in the social media. Anything that can cause unrest in society or harm to a person will be dealt with before they can become harmful,” the DGP said.

Rowdy-sheeters under scanner

In the recent times, it was observed that most of the grievous crimes, including housebreakings, and rape and murder had been committed by rowdy-sheeters who were out on bail.

The recent kidnapping of YSRCP Visakhapatnam MP’s son, wife and auditor was an act of the rowdy-sheeters. One of them had about 13 pending cases and another over 40 cases, including kidnap and murder, he said.

Mr. Rajendranath Reddy said officers across the State were instructed to closely monitor the movements of rowdy-sheeters out on bail. They officers were also directed to fast-track the cases pending against such persons so that they could be convicted at the earliest.

“The officers have been told to work in tandem with the legal machinery for an early conviction, as this could act as deterrence,” the DGO said.

Conviction-based policing could act as deterrence, and we identified about 10,000 such cases across the State, which were assigned to the officers of inspector rank to fast-track them, he said. So far, about 10,000 cases had been resolved and about 615 have been convicted.

“Similarly, we have assigned about 123 high-profile cases to the SP and DSP-rank officers, and the accused in 93 cases have been convicted,” he said.

Women’s safety

Speaking about women safety, Mr. Rajendranath Reddy said that the Disha App was a game-changer. “This app is not only for women. Men, children and senior citizens can also download the same, and the response is very fast,” he said.

Till about a year ago, the total number users of Disha App was around 16 lakh, but as on date their number increased to 1.23 crore. “It is the only such app in the country that has the largest user base,” the DGP said.

Mr. Rejendranath Reddy also pointed out that the Mahila Police were playing a key role in the State. “They have now been asked to go to the doorstep to find out issues pertaining to various offences such as dowry harassment, domestic violence and property issues,” he added.

“The idea is to nip the problem in the bud. They will inquire and report the issues to the police station concerned, and the officers will go and try to settle the issues before they aggravate,” the DGO said.

The Mahila Police were also playing a key role in cracking missing cases and identifying unknown bodies, as they were working at the grassroots level, he said.

“Once this programme becomes fully operational, incidents such as burning a 15-year-old boy to death in Bapatla or the acid attack on a girl in Eluru can be prevented. In most cases, a crime is committed by known persons over some personal enmity. If people alert the Mahila Police of the possible threat, the situation can be controlled before it goes out of hand,” the DGP said.

‘Maoists on the back foot’

On Maoist dominance in the Andhra-Odisha Border region, Mr. Rajendranath Reddy pointed out that it had been almost wiped out.

“The success is due to sustained combing operation, arrest of key leaders such as Kora Nageswara Rao, surrender of leaders such as Sudheer and Jalandhar Reddy, and encounter of leaders such as Ranadev and Ashok,” he said.

“The impact of Ramaguda and Koyyuru encounters weighed heavily on the Maoists, and we kept on building the heat on them. And a key factor is the successful eradication of ganja cultivation. It used to be cultivated in 7,500 acres in nine tribal mandals. I has now been limited to just a few hundred acres. The nexus between the extremists and ganja smugglers is broken,” he added.

Mr. Rajendranath Reddy said that the stock being smuggled now was primarily from the Odisha side, where cultivation of ganja was still on. “Our Parivartana programme has worked wonders in this aspect,” he said.

“This apart, efforts are on to break the consumption chain. Steps are afoot to bring the kingpins in the trade to book,” he said.

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