Anita Prajapati joined the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) Group II in Ahmedabad three years back and the only exciting security duty she has done till now was to cover the Jagannath Rath Yatra last month.
Trained in using a .303 rifle, riot control, handling emergencies, VIP security cover, and other such policing work, Prajapati says, “I have been deployed only during Jagannath Rath Yatra for a day, in the last three years. Besides this, I was deployed at a political event for frisking women audiences. We are, therefore, quiet unhappy because there is nothing to do. We are used for festival bandobast and rest of the time at the headquarters.”
Recently, Chief Minister Anandi Patel announced a 33-per cent reservation for women in the police force. However, this all-women SRPF battalion, raised three years ago, has not been used to its full potential. To reduce frustration in the ranks of this women SRPF, the Gujarat government has decided to attach the women platoons with the armed units of the district police.
Prajapati is one of the 450 women from these platoons who were not assigned any major deployment in the last few years. They will now assist the district police in important law and order duties.
There are two women platoons in the SRPF companies in the state — Group II in Ahmedabad and Group XII in Gandhinagar, who will now be attached to the SRPF groups in Mehsana, Banaskantha and Patan district police units. They have also been given freedom to choose from the said districts in order to stay closer to their homes. A majority of the personnel are from north Gujarat and Saurashtra region.
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Prajapati’s batchmate, Manisha Gadhvi, told The Indian Express, “The women SRPF personnel are not deployed in riot-affected or communally sensitive areas. We have been trained in arms, tackling riots, emergencies, VIP security, etc, but we end up just checking women during festivals or remain posted at one point throughout the day. We want to work like the male SRPF personnel and, therefore, a posting in armed units would help us tag along with police at such spots without any reservation.”
However, some of them joined the SRPF knowing that it would help them keep the home and work balanced. Pramila Antani, SRPF personnel from Group II (Ahmedabad), said, “I chose SRPF instead of policing because I wanted to manage both home and work.
However, I regret the decision now because sometimes there is no work for months, otherwise one has to remain stationed at a distant troublesome district for days. Even such deployments have become more challenging for us so we wanted a deployment where we are attached to police.”
The women platoons had approached the state government over the last few years complaining that they have nothing “substantial” to do. Additional Chief Secretary (Home) S K Nanda said, “The women were unhappy with the work and wanted to shift. They are seldom deployed and they can’t be deployed in totality in communally sensitive place or a riot spot.
Since they have the training of reserved police force, the government decided to attach them to armed units of the districts where they can work with the mainstream police force and also contribute in handling important arrangements during emergencies and crises.”
The government officials said that although the women have been trained like their male counterparts to rough it out and stay in tents and open grounds, trained in rifles and firearms, commando exercises, they have been facing issues with the lodging during bandobast in forest and rural areas.
The women personnel said that they had no issues with staying in tents or using firearms which they had to do even when they were a part of the armed units, but the deployment in forest areas had led to unpleasant experiences, especially the absence of proper changing rooms.
The women personnel are now hopeful of receiving more assignments to exhibit their skills and work at par with the male counterparts. (Names have been changed)