Nilgiris police reach out to Adivasi communities, using their own language

Police said the aim was to spread awareness about COVID-19 and about laws dealing with offences against women and children, among the communities

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 languages that the communities themselves use to 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 aimed at these communities in their own language,” said Nilgiris Superintendent of Police, V. Sasi Mohan.

The police took a count of the police personnel and home guards working with the district police recruited from Adivasi communities in the Nilgiris. “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 COVID-19 awareness 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 for the district police.

Following the success of this endeavour, the police have now begun conducting awareness campaigns related to crimes against women and children, including sensitizing communities about the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO).

Mr. Sasi Mohan said that the efforts of the district police to “break the ice” and foster better communication between the police and local communities has already begun to bear fruit. “While this effort is not the sole reason, our continuous 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 come forward and approach the local police with their complaints,” he said.

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