Pakhiza Begum and her son Golam Azam from Chattogram city's Kotwali area were drug traders once. Azam was also a pickpocket.
Both of them have been arrested and sent to prison many times.
At one stage, the mother and the son decided to leave behind their life of crime. However, despite repeated attempts, they could not start a new life as people still considered them drug traders.
Eventually, a unique policing service named "Hello OC" showed them the way – the way to lead a life with their heads held high. Police then asked its officials and locals to be supportive towards them.
Like Pakhiza and Azam, 25 other people in Chattogram also gave up criminal activities with the help of this service.
Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge (OC) of Kotwali police station, launched the initiative first during the police week in February 2019. During the week, he opened a booth and started providing services to the people.
That was the beginning. Started with one booth, the service was later extended to other areas under the police station. The OC himself visited the booths at least once a week.
"Hello OC" is a unique initiative under which booths are set up at different places in areas under the police station to provide support to citizens in real time.
The Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) commissioner later asked all police stations under its jurisdiction to launch the service.
This is to mention that the CMP has recently initiated "Hello Commissioner" – inspired by the success of "Hello OC".
Currently, a few police stations under the CMP including Panchlaish, Potenga and Bayezid are providing services under the "Hello OC" initiative.
One of the beneficiaries of the initiative, Zunu Begum, told The Business Standard, "At one stage, I started losing interest in the world around me. We were not well after entering the criminal world. We were passing every moment in horror."
"But the 'Hello OC' has shown us the way. May 'Hello OC' be spread throughout the country."
The pioneer of the initiative, Mohsin, said, "I saw that the people opened up comfortably at the 'Hello OC' booth."
"The women, who normally do not want to share their problems publicly, started sharing their issues without any hesitation," he said, adding, "Then I decided to keep the service on."
He said, "We arrange programmes under the 'Hello OC' initiative in the areas where the number of slum dwellers is higher and where there is a negative perception about police. The program is held at the open stage."
The OC said six programmes have been arranged under the initiative in his police station.
"All members of a police station have a mandatory duty at the booth by rotation. The programme also brings forth the allegations about the police members, if any," said Mohsin.
"I enjoy serving people through the service."
Among the other police stations under the CMP, Patenga police station has arranged 10 programmes under the "Hello OC" initiative.
OC Utpal Barua said that the "Hello OC" initiative enables police to reach the common people easily.
People are receiving the service, he said, adding that the initiative has removed people's fear about police.
Meanwhile, common people in the city started appreciating the service.
Advocate Akhtar Kabir Chowdhury, president of the Socheton Nagorik Committee (Conscious Citizens' Committee) in Chattogram city, said people have negative perceptions about police.
Police are now trying to reach the people through the "Hello OC" initiative, which is a unique and a good idea.
A delegation from the United States Department of Justice has recently visited the CMP Headquarters. During the visit, they also praised the unique policing service.