With the city getting its first woman Police Commissioner, will issues pertain to women be on the priority?
I would very openly and strongly say that I am a feminist. Nowadays one has to explain being a feminist, because usually we are very shy in saying it as it probably means to the world that we only think of women, but that is not true. Being a feminist basically means understanding that there is discrimination against people just because they belong to a particular gender or caste or just because they are children. I understand the value of understanding discrimination. Like I told you, that I want to create child-friendly spaces in police stations, so that children who are victims of crime, or accompany their victim mothers at police stations, don’t feel intimidated. I want to take that further to create women friendly spaces in the hope that every part of the country will become women friendly. It would be my own little effort in the entire issue so that every public place becomes accepting towards women as it is towards men. That would be my endeavour. That is the high ideal I feel I am going to contribute towards, whatever little I can.
You and your husband (Sandeep Khirwar) both have served as Superintendents of Police (SP) Panchkula. So what difference do you feel between now and then?
One thing which I feel hasn’t changed is the shortage of staff in the police force. It is there even now.
Also, I feel the difference in policing. We are evolving very fast and with the culture nowadays in educated cities, we are more or less moving towards a global culture.. we tend to acquire values and expectations accordingly. We, as citizens, are exposed to probably the best standards or worst standards in the world and our expectations are that much higher. Sensibilities are hopefully more evolved now or maybe we have learnt more how to respect each other or interact. On the other hand, there is a lot of interaction on social media now and there could be fallouts from that. In general, the challenges are whatever are the challenges of the fastly evolving society.
If a situation similar to Dera violence takes place again in Panchkula, how will you manage it?
See we have systems in place. There are standard operating procedures on how violence on such a large scale is dealt with. The entire state machinery is involved and we have our set procedures and we follow those.
Would you have allowed those people to enter Panchkula?
I really don’t know. In fact, I didn’t know the entire anatomy of the whole thing, so I really can’t say. But I am very sure that all officers have taken the best possible decisions at that time and we will continue to do so. Like I said, as a team.
Will you be a strict CP for your staff?
My job is to do my job. I just find better and more efficient ways to do my job. There is no question of strictness. I believe we all are a team. And not in the police, in life we all are a team; like we all do jobs which others can’t do and therefore we carry each other forward together.
Usually women police officials are given soft postings. What do you have to say about it?
There is an endeavour to put best people forward. I will definitely ensure that best people are not kept back only because they are women.
Panchkula has always been facing the issue of staff crunch especially when most of the policemen are busy on VIP duty. How will you balance it in a way that it doesn’t impact the policing?
The thing is that there has always been such kind of peculiarities in a city which practically works as a capital of the state. All these things are managed by state top brass, but they have always been sensitive to the fact that Panchkula does face the problem of resource crunch, and we are supplemented a lot by outside forces. I guess that endeavour will continue for us to be wanting more and we get supplemented as well.
Crime is increasing in Panchkula. There has been a spate of incidents of snatching or car-jacking.
Officers are already on the job. They are in touch with the officers of neighbouring areas in Chandigarh, Patiala, or other areas. That endeavour will continue where we focus sharply on these issues.
Panchkula is surrounded by the borders of Himachal, Punjab and UT, which prove to be an easy escape route for criminals. What is being done about this?
This used to a big concern many years ago and still is..Nowadays all borders are porous and you really can’t wall yourself out of anywhere now. Even in the middle of the heart of the state, you are not immune from people coming from outside the district or anywhere. National highways are coming up and mobility is huge.
The presence of police on the streets is less in Panchkula, especially when one compares it with Chandigarh. What is being done about this?
I completely agree. I was on the road last night.. I did feel the lack of officers. Our DCP has promised to come up with a solution. We will all sit together and address the issue.
What do you feel would be the priority areas for you?
Priority areas are and will always be the highest form of legitimacy that the police can acquire. Not just me, but every police officer hopes to acquire… I hope to garner a lot of cooperation from people.. there could be times when they are gaps between what the police assess in and what really are the concerns of people at that time. I hope with the help of officers we can narrow the gap. We can have better interactions with people so that we are on the same page. There are lot of young officers, Inspectors and SI’s. The DCP is young as well. As a team, I hope that all of us are able to address the concerns.