Jharkhand Police has turned good Samaritan by building up a bank of used mobiles and laptops for distribution among poor students who are using them to continue their studies during the pandemic restrictions. Moved by tales of students leaving their studies and some even attempting suicides for want of mobiles and laptops for online classes, Jharkhand Director General of Police (DGP), Neeraj Sinha came up with the idea to bridge the digital divide by asking all Superintendents of Police to set up a `Mobile and Laptop Bank’ in all police stations under the state’s community policing scheme.
In Jharkhand’s remote Godda district smartphones have been distributed along with SIM cards and three months free internet facility in order to avoid further maintenance cost of handling smartphones just after the launch of the scheme. ”The news of Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram college student who committed suicide at her Telangana home calling herself a ’burden to her family’ ripped my heart. Then I came across a video of a 11-year Jharkhand girl selling mangoes as she has discontinued studies, unable to buy a smartphone for studies.
This went viral, after which somebody bought her 12 mangoes for Rs 1.2 lakh in order to help her. In another case a student in Godda had to be rescued from attempted suicide as he could not afford a smartphone for studies.These instances motivated us to work in this direction,” Sinha told PTI. The DGP wrote to Superintendents of Police in all 24 districts to set up the gadget banks at police stations asking people to come forward to donate their unused mobile phones, laptops, notepads etc for distribution to poor students.
”My idea is that those from the middle class or upper class who have smart phones and laptops which are lying unused or discarded should come forward to donate,” he said. People who can afford to buy all the latest gadgets often have two to three spare smartphones which they don’t want to give away as they fear misuse of these phones whose IMEI or identity code is shown as in their possession.
The police chief said that he had personally known people who crush usable phones before disposing it off to prevent misuse which again results in electronic waste as well as pollution from high toxin released from it seeping into the soil. ”To deal with these we opened decentralised appliance banks at police stations where on deposit of gadgets people the station daily entry (Sanha) is marked in respect of each equipment deposited with attested copy given as proof to the person who deposited the equipment to ensure the depositors will not be held responsible in case of misuse of the equipment,” Sinha said.
The register mentions the name of the depositor, address, I.M.E.I. number of the smartphone, unique identification number of the laptop, date and time of submission, etc and sent to district level equipment bank at the earliest for distribution among the poor and meritorious students on the recommendation of school Principals. Deserving students have to give an undertaking that they will be responsible for any misuse of the gadget.
Sinha in another letter to DIGs, SPs and SSPs has asked them to reach out personally to heads of organizations employing substantial numbers of people like CCL, chambers of commerce, their junior chambers, Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, and other charitable organizations working in their districts, requesting them to encourage their personnel/ members to donate their used smartphones/ laptops in the ”Equipment Bank” being operated by Police. ”Many of the districts in Jharkhand including Godda and Ramgarh have shown wonderful results with good distribution of gadgets and we will take this initiative ahead,” the police chief said.
Jharkhand has one of the largest tribal populations in the country inhabited by over 32 Schedule Tribes and other marginalised indigenous people. According to the 2011 census, the state has 86.45 lakh tribal people or about 27 per cent of the total population of 3.29 crore.