Women cops with a difference

Women cops with a difference

Women cops with a difference

Sometime back, 20-year-old Shilpi Sinha (name changed), an undergraduate student, was travelling in an auto-rickshaw on way to her college in the morning hours.

While passing through the Dak Bungalow crossing, she realised one of her co-passengers, a male in his 40s, was making an unsuccessful attempt to molest her on the running vehicle. Without making any protest or murmur, she played it safe, got down for the three-wheeler, took another rickshaw and went to the college.

Girls like Shilpi need not remain silent anymore. Next time a woman or a girl travelling in an auto-rickshaw or a bus faces any sexual remarks/assault/misbehaviour, she, instead of going to the police station, can make a call to the 500 “Ladli Cops”. These “policewomen”, specially selected from 5 prestigious girls’ colleges in Patna, have been trained by the Bihar police to help them launch a crackdown on tormentors.

These college girls would work in coordination with the police stations and help the victims file a complaint  against the accused.

The move, conceived by the founder of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) ‘Prayas Bharti’, Suman Lal, saw the light of  day after it got determined support from Bihar’s Additional Director General (ADG), Law and Order, Alok Raj.

The top cop said that woman victims in Bihar usually hesitate to lodge a complaint against their tormentors. “But now the Ladli Cops will work as their voice. These 500 girls, specially selected and trained from different colleges, will serve as eyes and ears of Bihar police,” the ADG told Deccan Herald.

These Ladli Cops, who will be stationed at their respective colleges, after receiving complaints will verify their authenticity and then inform the police station concerned.

Conceding that it was not feasible for the Bihar police to be present everywhere all the time, the ADG said 100% policing was not possible.

“With the rapid increase in population, the proper crime prevention needs quick response time. It is against this backdrop that Ladli Cops will come into picture. The trained girls will work as informers and work in coordination with the local police and quick mobiles. One cop from every police station has been asked to remain in touch with Ladli Cops who in turn will help the complainant and the police in registering the case and also assist in further investigation,” said the top cop.

“Usually women look up to their men to protect them. With Ladli Cops in place, these victims can overcome their social and psychological barrier and react,” NGO chief Suman Lal told Deccan Herald. She added that in the days to come the women constables would train these college girls in self-defence. If the move succeeds in the state capital, it would be experimented in other districts too.

Actually, the origin of this entire exercise of community policing and empowering women began when the Senior SP (SSP) of Patna, Manu Maharaj was earlier posted in Rohtas. He was instrumental in forming Women Gram Raksha Dal (WGRD) to take on the liquor mafia as well as Maoists. The adjoining Kaimur Hills was perceived to be a safe haven for the Maoists, whose underground guerrilla activities had been a stumbling block for development in the area.

One fine morning, Maharaj, during his visit (under community policing programme) to the hilly terrains, met these women who complained to him that they were ruined by the liquor mafia and also by Maoists and criminal elements.

The mafia and Maoists, they said, were playing with the lives of male members of their family and exploiting the illiterate tribals to join the ‘naxal war’ against the police/government.

The intrepid women told the SP to recruit them in police or its sister organisation so that when they take on the erring male members/ mafias/criminals/naxalites of their locality, they (males) should not be under the impression that the weaker sex were common village women.

“I too personally wanted to bring tribals from hilly area to the mainstream of society. It was then that the idea of forming WGRD in every village struck to me,” the SP had said. Those women who were desirous of offering their services to the WGRD were recruited.

Were these ‘recruits’ on the pay roll of Bihar police? “No. We gave them mobiles, lathis, torches under community policing programme. But they were definitely not on our pay roll. Of course, the police backup and support are always there to motivate them and ensure their empowerment,” argued Manu Maharaj.

Taking cue from Maharaj’s success, Suman too tied up with Bihar police and 100 students each from Magadh Mahila College, JD Women's College, Patna Women's College,  Ganga Devi  College and  Arvind  Mahila College were selected and trained as Ladli Cops, after an orientation programme.

The Bihar police, in collaboration with the Prayas Bharti and the college administration trained the students from August 2015 onwards. This month, the police issued certificates and identity cards to 500 such Ladli Cops, whose primary jobs will now be to save girls from molestation or misbehaviour, while travelling in public transports like auto-rickshaws, buses and trains.

They will remain in colleges and crowded areas to ensure safety of women. If any girl witnesses a crime against women, she can complain the matter to Ladli Cops in writing and after verifying the case, they will inform the police for necessary action.

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