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Bengaluru police turn Twitterati during unrest

The social media team at the Police Commissioner’s office in Bengaluru toiled away day and night to answer the queries of the citizens of Bengaluru.— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

The social media team at the Police Commissioner’s office in Bengaluru toiled away day and night to answer the queries of the citizens of Bengaluru.— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.  

The social media team spent sleepless nights tweeting anxious citizens

In the 48-hour period of unrest and uncertainty — from Monday to Tuesday — when citizens were unable to separate rumours from actual events, who did they turn to? Bengaluru city police’s Twitter handle. And to their surprise, @BlrCityPolice tweeted right back. This one-on-one conversation between the people and the police was led by a 14-member social media team.

“Since Monday morning, we have made over 1,000 tweets, including announcements about the situation. We ensured that every query was answered,” said constable Lokesh. H.M.

The team sits in a room fitted with a large screen onto which tweets are projected. They can also monitor tweets from their computers. Apart from monitoring the police’s Facebook page, WhatsApp and Twitter handles, they also keep track of the TV and radio.

M.G. Nagendra Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Command Centre, who heads the social media team, said that Twitter was one of the ways to reach out to the people. On an ordinary day, the team handles around 100 queries across social media. “But, over the past few days, we have had 5,000 queries daily. On Whatsapp alone, we received 4,000 queries on Tuesday. The number of our followers on social media also shot up,” said sub-inspector Shoba. A majority of citizens were concerned either about safety in their neighbourhoods or if they could travel to office or college. “We cross-checked with our colleagues on the field through our WhatsApp group and control room before replying,” said inspector Manjunath. A few personnel, cracking their fingers, said: “Our arms are numb with all the typing. Who would have thought this was an occupational hazard,” they joked.

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