The Mumbai Police has been known for their witty Tweets that reach the youth. Their Twitter account is full of pop culture references, which not only sends out a message to the youth, but also catches their interest. One of the more recent examples would be how the team used the Baahubali fever to create awareness about traffic laws. The Baahubali poster says that the Mumbai Police has two questions for Mumbaikars — why Katappa killed Baahubali and why people don’t follow traffic rules. The tweet reads that while one question will be answered in theatres, the other can only be answered by the public. The tweet went viral, with over 12,000 retweets.
The Twitter handle @MumbaiPolice which was activated in December 2015, has been the spotlight for the its creative ways of spreading the message across. Whether it was the recent tongue in cheek reply to Shobhaa De telling her that her tweet regarding an obese cop was fat-shaming and factually inaccurate or its message to youngsters about not getting high, the handle has always struck the right chord with Twitterati.
When asked how they came to adopt this method, police joint commissioner, Deven Bharti said, “If you have to target the youth, you have to come up with something catchy that will keep their attention. For instance, everyone was curious to know why Katappa killed Baahubali, so we used that catchphrase to spread our message. We’ve got very good response from the Mumbai youth on these tweets so far.”
Slapstick and hilarious as these tweets are, a lot of thought goes into each post, adds Bharti. “We sit with the team that handles social media a week in advance and ideate. Then we zero in on a theme and discuss how best to go about creating a buzz. Some of our recent tweets have F.R.I.E.N.D.S. references, because these are the kinds of things that ensure the youth don’t just skip over the tweet,” he explains.
The Twitter account had come into the limelight especially during the elections for their firm and clever response to Shobhaa De, who had tweeted the photograph of an obese police officer and attributed it to one of Mumbai’s cops. The department set the matter straight and tweeted, “We love puns too, Ms De, but this is totally misplaced. Uniform/official not ours. We expect better from responsible citizens like you.” Looking back at the incident, Bharti says that though it is now water under the bridge, at the time, it had stung quite a bit. “We wanted to bring it to the notice of the people that what was tweeted was incorrect. After a day of hard work that started at 6 am and went on till late night for most of the police in the city, it hurt to see something like this tweeted. So, we simply pointed out that it was factually incorrect,” he says.
The Twitter handle has been getting as much traffic as ever, with their new hashtag, #DontCrossTheLine, which advises city folks against drunken driving.
Another instance of pop culture reference is their #AFRIENDSADVICE wherein they have used references to this beloved sitcom. One tweet reads, “Joey doesn’t share food. Least you can do is not share personal information online” while another issues the message of wearing seatbelts using Phoebe Buffay’s line “He is her lobster.” The image adds a line about caution to her dialogue, “Safe driving will ensure their bond lasts longer.” Yet another post advises commuters to not use their phone while driving, asking them to tell their phone Ross Geller’s iconic line, “We were on a break.”