How Facebook is the right platform for Kolkata police

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Be it an illegal arms haul from a deserted house or the seizure of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s stolen fountain pen a century ago, crisp tales of Kolkata police’s successes in cracking mysteries have become a big hit among netizens.

The real-life stories of the Kolkata police’s Feludas and Byomkesh Bakshis — two iconic fictional sleuths in Bengali literature — have become must-reads for visitors to the department’s official Facebook page, where these are now being posted at regular intervals.

According to senior officers, the suggestions and constructive criticism from readers are encouraging them to post more such case studies of the department’s recent achievements or past breakthroughs.

“It is an effort to give the readers the taste of some of the most intriguing crime incidents in the form of a stories and also to raise their awareness levels about the police’s constant effort to help and protect the society,” a senior officer said.

Take one particular “story”. The Facebook post narrates a century-old theft where Tagore’s fountain pen was stolen from his house in Kolkata’s Jorasanko neighbourhood.

“It describes how the competent officers of the then Calcutta police caught the thief and later summoned Tagore himself to the police court to identify his possession. However, the magistrate intervened to make an exception for the poet, who didn’t have to appear in court.

Apart from the content, it is the gripping narration as well as the sophisticated writing that has made netizens lap up the pieces — especially a Sunday thriller series — which have come like a breath of fresh air and a welcome departure from the usual monotonous legalese that marks police press statements or social media posts.

“I love the narratives as they describe the incidents in the manner of a thriller while also making us aware of some of the fundamentals of police investigation,” an enthusiastic reader commented on the page.

Terms like circumstantial evidence, interrogation and the importance of using and nurturing sources from the crime world are recurrent in the narratives, perhaps to introduce the readers to real-life crime solving.

In one of the posts, the writer — who has remained anonymous so far despite numerous public requests to disclose his/her identity — asserts: “Unlike the detective stories, the work of police does not get over just with the unveiling of the crime or arresting the criminal. It goes through a long and tedious process of post-arrest trial in court, where all the charges against the accused have to be legally proven.”

A write-up from the weekly thriller series describes an incident of deceit and murder, 15 years ago, famously known in police circles as the “billion dollar case”. It is about two con men putting up in a central Kolkata hotel under fake identity and trying to cheat one another over a $1 billion fake currency note.

One of them ends up murdering the other during an altercation.

The write-up got profuse praise from the readers, as much for the narrative as for the police force’s wonderful effort in solving the murder mystery.

Another “story” describes a case from the police files of 1994 where the investigators had to break much sweat to locate a body, also called “the body of the crime”, that is a pre-requisite to start off any murder case.

It narrates how a person was killed and the body hidden within a hurriedly erected wall in his own house. The investigators finally discovered the corpse by following a clue — a slightly different hue of the wall in the deceased’s room.

Bowled over by the posts, some readers have suggested the police authorities publish the write-ups in book form.

“These are a great collection of crime stories after a long time. It would be great to have them all published in the form of a book,” an enthusiast suggested.

“Superb work Kolkata police. These write-ups are enjoyable as well as informative. I hope this effort to bring out untold stories behind the crimes and their motives would work as an eye opener,” another reader added.

Milinda Ghosh Roy / IANS

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