Tell me how menstruation takes place: DSP to female trainees at Chhattisgarh police school
In a country tackling a high rate of atrocities against women, an increased female participation in policing should actually help solve the problem.
That is, only if their training is not as opprobrious as it is in Chhattisgarh's Chandkhuri Police Training Academy situated 22 kilometres from the capital Raipur.
"Tell me how menstruation takes place? I know each of yours menstruation dates. All of you lie to escape the training. My wife never suffers from stomach cramps during periods. You just talk rubbish."
The budding women police officers of Chhattisgarh police were used to such kind of shameful admonitions at the Chandkhuri academy until their trainer Neelkanth Sahu - a DSP rank officer - was shifted to the police headquarters.
Currently, a total of 32 female police officers are training in the Academy. The training staff includes one female DSP, one woman constable and a male trainer of DSP rank.
Enough is enough
The humiliation faced by the women while training came to light when a team of the State Women Commission knocked on the doors of the academy on 23 August.
The female trainees opened up before Harshita Pandey, the Chairperson of the Commission, and narrated the atrocities perpetrated by the misogynist officer Sahu.
One of the trainee officers told the Commission members how Sahu had doubted her pregnancy stating that an expectant mother must have a swollen stomach.
Some other trainees complained how Sahu ogled at them during daily morning exercise drill and passed lewd comments. They also recounted how Sahu would drag the women out of the swimming pool on the pretext of a head count and pull their hair during a parade.
Sahu also allegedly poked a trainee with the cane to wipe away mud sticking to the right pocket of her uniform shirt when he could have instructed her verbally. Later, he had to apologise when the woman objected.
Harshita Pandey, Chairperson of the State Women Commission, said, "We make tall claims about gender equality. However, reality is different. Whatever these female officers have told is really shameful. I cannot even repeat the words they have uttered. It is regrettable that the state has police officers with such perverse mentality. 17 trainees have so far filed a written complaint. We will send our report to the government after probing the allegations."
"My only fault is that I was strict during the training. The trainees might be required to work under hard conditions. Only the training would come to their help in Maoist-affected areas. We make the women run as part of the training. But, four of the trainees took a lift on a bike during the race on one occasion. They all united to conspire against me when I took action in this incident," alleged Sahu.
...but he's not the only one
Sadly, Sahu is not the only public servant in Chhattisgarh facing accusations of misbehaviour with female colleagues.
In 2002, the then Jashpur Collector Mankuram Sarthi was accused of raping a woman supervisor. He was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment after a long trial.
Sanjay Sharma, an Additional Inspector General of Police (AIG) was suspended last year for allegedly molesting a woman employee in an elevator in the old police headquarters building and also for harassing her at the workplace.
Similarly, a forest department official Uday Singh was accused of rape by a woman. But, it was the victim who had to face persecution in this case.
Recently, a female cop accused the former Bilaspur IG Pawan Dev of sexual harassment. She released audio clips in which IG was heard purportedly calling her on the phone at unearthly hours asking her to visit him in his house.
Dev was still posted at the police headquarters after the controversy and the probe is pending with the Vishakha committee.
Anand Tiwari, Director of Chhattisgarh State Police Academy, said, "One of the female trainee officers told my wife over the phone that Neelkanth Sahu was indulging in misbehaviour. Their pain came out when I visited the academy for the lecture. I have ordered a thorough probe and Sahu has been shifted to the police headquarters."
Edited by Jhinuk Sen