Rise of Women in Policing

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Women, who at a certain point of time, were the most dormant segment of India population, have now become active participants in all walks of life. They were once only a unit of the family organization, but are now becoming a significant and influencing unit of the society.

Women are an important element of our society. Modern society has started recognizing the individual identity of a woman. She has her aspirations, abilities and qualities as a man does, therefore, she should have the opportunities to develop her faculties and express them according to her own choice.

In modern India, women have held high offices, including that of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and Governors. Innumerable women candidates have outshined their male counterparts in the toughest exam of the country i.e. the civil services exams.

Over the last few years, we have witnessed women who have dominated the IPS exams Toppers List, thereby inspiring thousands of young girls all over the country to also prepare themselves for such examinations.

Turning to women IPS officers in India. They have, time and again, proved their calibre by their heroic acts. And today, we see them at the helm of many important and crucial positions, be it the paramilitary forces, or dealing with chronic naxalite problems in our country.

The job profile of an IPS Officer is very challenging and dynamic; it requires a lot of dedication and commitment towards this job. But these women are courageous, having a strong willpower and a sharp mind. Below are some of the extraordinary women who have overcome obstacles, made a name for themselves, and created a new era for women policing.

Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi is a retired Indian Police Service Officer and social activist who is the current Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. She is the first woman to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1972. She remained in service for 35 years before taking voluntary retirement in 2007 as Director General, Bureau of Police – Research and Development.

One of her most remarkable achievements came when she was posted to the Delhi Prisons as Inspector General (IG). She introduced several reforms at Tihar Jail, which gained worldwide acclaim and won her the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1994.

Meanwhile, in 2003, Bedi became the first Indian woman to be appointed as Police Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. She resigned in 2007, to focus on social activism and writing. She has written several books and runs the India Vision Foundation.

Archana Ramasundaram

Smt. Archana Ramasundaram, an IPS Officer of 1980 batch, is a Post Graduate in Economics from the University of Rajasthan, where she also worked as a lecturer before shifting her career to the Indian Police Service and allotted to the Tamil Nadu Cadre.

She worked as the SP(Prohibition Enforcement Wing) where she took strict action against a large number of bootleggers and prohibition offenders. She later worked as the SP (Vigilance and Anti-corruption) at Chennai. She was awarded the Police Medal for Meritorious Services in August 1995.

In 1999, she was selected for deputation to the Central Govt and posted as the DIG in the Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi. She was also awarded the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2005. On 3rd February 2016, she assumed charge as the Director General, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and earned the distinction of being the first woman to head a paramilitary force in India.

Meera Borwankar

In 1981, Meera Borwankar became an IPS Officer of the Maharashtra cadre, served as Deputy Commissioner of Police in Mumbai. She was posted in the State CID in 1993-95. She worked with the Economic Offences Wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Mumbai and was DIG of the Anti-Corruption Bureau of the CBI in New Delhi.

Meera Borwankar became the first woman to head Mumbai’s Crime Branch Department in 2001. For her contribution, she received the President’s Medal in 1997, apart from Police Medaland Director General’s Insignia. She is known for being a tough officer. During her service at the State Crime Branch Department (1993-95), she investigated the much publicised Jalgaon sex scandal, which involved many local politicians.

Sanjukta Parashar

Sanjukta Parashar is an IPS Officer from the 2006 batch. She completed her graduation in Political Science from Indraprastha College for Women In New Delhi and later went to the Jawaharlal Nehru University for her Masters in International Relations. She went on to complete her M.Phil and did her PhD in US Foreign Policy. She secured the 85th All India Rank in her UPSC examination.

Parashar was first posted as the Assistant Commandant of Makum in 2008. She was soon given the responsibility of controlling the clashes between Bodo and illegal Bangladeshi militants.

She is best known for taking down 16 militants, arresting over 64, and seizing tonnes of arms and ammunition in just 15 months. Parashar has proven herself a capable leader in the police force. She had, on numerous occasions, placed her life on the line as she led her team into the forests of Assam to counter separatist insurgents.

Despite all her achievements as an armed officer of the law, Parashar has also shown a softer side that has won the hearts of many across the country. She was a regular visitor to the camps for displaced people in the region during the height of the Bodo conflict, and participated in the distribution of much-needed relief. She is also a vocal advocate for road safety; known for offering toffees to motorcycle riders who wear helmets.

Sonia Narang

Sonia Narang is an IPS Officer of the 2002 batch. She graduated from Punjab University in 1999. She is a gold medallist in Sociology. She has been promoted to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in the Crime Investigation Department (CID).

She was the first woman Superintendent of Police, Belgaum District. Sonia was the Deputy Commissioner (South Division) of Bangalore, only the second woman to have made it to that position. She is often considered as a no-nonsense officer who slapped a politician for crossing the line. She blew the lid off a corruption scam in the Lokayukta that led to the resignation of former Lokayukta Justice, Bhaskar Rao, and got his son, Y. Ashwin, arrested.

She was in the limelight recently, for her pursuit of wrongdoers in the shocking Pre-University Question Paper Scam.

Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya

Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya was the first ever Indian woman appointed as Director General of Police of a State (Uttarakhand).

She was the the first women IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, and the second woman IPS officer in the country, after Kiran Bedi.

She has many medals in her honour; the President’s Medal for Long and Meritorious Service in 1989, President’s Medal for Distinguished Service in 1997, and the Rajiv Gandhi Award in 2004 for Excellent All Round Performance and as an Outstanding Woman Achiever.

She represented India at the 2004 Interpol meeting at Cancun, Mexico. She is best known for her work as the Chairperson of the All India Women in Police, Uttarakhand Police. She hosted the 2nd Women in Police Conference that was praised by the President of India as “an excellent performance”.

She projected the issues relating to the recruitment, training and continuing of women in police in India at the DGPs Annual Conference and to the Training Heads from across the country on behalf of the Bureau of Police, Research and Development.

She retired on October 31, 2007.

Dr B. Sandhya

Dr B. Sandhya is the Additional Director General of Kerala Police in India. She trained in Human Resources Management from Wollongong University, Australia in 1998, and passed the PGDBA from Pondicherry University in 1999. She earned her PhD from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, in 2005.

In 2006, Sandhya was involved in the investigation into allegations of sexual assault made against former Kerala Public Works Minister, P.J. Joseph. In 2009, she implemented The Janamaithri Suraksha Project (the Community Policing Project of Kerala), a successful model of community policing.

In 2010, the International Association of Women Police (IAWP) based in the USA, awarded Sandhya the International Scholarship of Distinction. In 2006, the Kerala Police awarded Sandhya the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service. Her novel- Neelakoduveliyude Kavalkkari, won the Edasseri Award in 2007, Gopalakrishnan Kolazhi Award, Abudabi Sakthi Award and Kunjunni Puraskaram-2013.

Vimla Mehra

Vimla Mehra is a 1978-batch officer of the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram -Union Territories)cadre. She took over as the Director General of Tihar Prisons in August 2012, pipping a male contender to the top job. Prior to this, Mehra, 56, was the Special Commissioner of the Delhi Police security unit, thus creating history by becoming the only woman to occupy the crucial position in Delhi Police history.

She is best known as the second female Director General of Delhi’s Tihar Prison after Kiran Bedi. She introduced a great change to make the women inmates, one of them being the of foreign language courses. She also introduced the Women helpline (1091) when she was heading the Crime Against Women Cell. Her other notable achievement was to appoint women police officers as Investigating Officers (IOs) in all cases involving women. She also started the first ever free self-defence training programmes for women run by the police.

The world may be an unkind place to many a woman, but Mehra says she faced no gender discrimination in the police corps. “It was my choice to work extra hard and prove myself. When I joined the force, there were only a few women officers so we (the women) felt we had to set an example. I would say the system has been very supportive of us, helping us to survive and succeed.”