Sanitising Kolkata Streets for the Sake of Women

Ms Aparajita Rai, IPS Deputy Commissioner of Police, STF

An all women motorbike squad was launched by Kolkata Police against eve-teasers, stalkers, and roadside Romeos. Dressed in white and patrolling Kolkata streets, ‘The Winners’ squad is a potent weapon against road rowdies. Their aim is to make public space safer for women.

Launched in July 2018, and led by a sub-inspector of police, the combat team has two dozen woman constables on its roll.

The idea of an all-women team took shape two years ago. Sampa Guha, who has won several laurels for the country, and is a 17 times National Award winner in powerlifting, leads the pack of young woman constables.

At present, ‘The Winners’ squad is working in three shifts. In the morning shift, the focus is on various parks of the city, popular among morning walkers. In the afternoon, the team makes it a point to patrol areas close to schools, colleges, shopping malls, and metro stations.

Night patrolling covers areas like Park Street, Camac Street among others, which are famous for nightlife.

The team has done a remarkable job and received an encouraging response from the citizens of Kolkata. Be it Madhyamik, Higher secondary examination, Durga Puja or Christmas, the young constables have made the Kolkata Police force proud. ‚ÄúSince ‘The Winners’ team is armed with smaller weapons and special fiber batons, they are best equipped for the job. Led by additional DC Aparajita Rai, the team is assigned jobs based on requirements.

DC Aparajita Rai opens up to Mohammad Asif regarding the achievements of ‘The Winners’.

What was the concept behind the formation of The Winners team?

The concept behind the formation of ‘The Winners’ team is to ensure the presence of an accessible, mobile, all women’s team that gives a sense of confidence to the women to claim/occupy/access public spaces without fear.

Has the team achieved its objectives?

Yes. The team has identified and detained more than 200 eve-teasers, molesters, since its inception. We have not had any repeat offenders to date. Also, we have received a lot of feedback from the public and certain areas that used to report a number of such cases but now we are witnessing a lesser number of cases.

How are the members of this force selected and trained?

The personnel of ‘The Winners’ team is selected on a voluntary basis from the new recruits of the constabulary. These women are very enthusiastic to join this novel initiative. They undergo a two-wheeler driving course and get a proper license. They also attend the unarmed combat courses, lectures on general etiquette in dealing with the public. They are also continuing with English speaking classes to make them more adept in dealing with the cosmopolitan crowd of the city.

How are the members of this force motivated to face the challenges from hardcore criminals?

The team does not have to deal with hardened criminals as such. Its objective is to ensure safe public space for women.

What special role they are playing in keeping the streets of Kolkata safe for women round-the-clock?

The duty schedules are determined to keep in mind the crowd pattern, school / college hours, party hubs, late-night drive, etc. Their timings range from 6 am to 2-3 am at dawn.

Would you like to highlight an incident in which the members of these forces were found to have prevented any serious crime or dealt with any law and order problem successfully?

There are many such incidents.