PATNA: Seeking to curb the circulation of inflammatory material and fake information on the social media, Bihar police have started forming WhatsApp groups with civilians as members across the state.
Police stations in all the 38 districts of the state will have such groups, christened ‘Cyber Senani Samuh’, and they will be administered by police officials at different levels. The move comes after concerns were raised about a steady rise in appearance of misleading and fake information on WhatsApp, which often led to tensions between different communities.
“Problems of maintaining law and order caused by misleading and fake information on the social media can be tackled better by involving civilians. The Cyber Senani Groups are being formed at three levels of the police force – police stations, at the sub-divisional and district levels,” said state DGP KS Dwivedi.
Sources said the process of forming such groups has already started at all the 1,075 police stations, 225 police outposts, 115 subdivisions across the state. Station house officers (SHO) of the police stations are the administrators of these groups, which will have at least 100 and a maximum of 250 members. The DSPs and SPs will be the administrators of these WhatsApp groups in the subdivisions and districts respectively.
The district-level Cyber Senani Groups (CSG) will also have senior police officials such as deputy inspectors general (DIG) and inspectors general (IG) as members in supervisory roles, said sources. The state police headquarters has issued guidelines about the formation and functioning of the CSGs.
“Civilians who are being given priority as members of these groups are doctors, teachers, social activists, lawyers, retired government servants, mukhias and sarpanches, representatives of women’s and students’ organisations, also MLAs and MLCs,” said a senior police official overseeing the formation of the CSGs.
Civilian members of these groups are expected to bring to the attention of police the emergence of information by way of text, photographs or video clips that they believe are misleading, fake or inflammatory. If a civilian member of these groups is named in a criminal case or is convicted by a court, they would lose their membership.