It is 5 pm and the sun has still not set. The wind is hot and the concrete ground is still searing from the day’s heat. Dressed in blue tracks and a white T-shirt, she walks towards the starting line. The heat is getting to her and fatigue is etched on her face. But the 41-year-old is determined to join her younger fellow trainees for the 100-metre dash.
“I am no less. If I don’t push myself I will be left behind,” Rani Biju, hailing from Alleppey in Kerala, said.
Biju, a widow, was inducted on compassionate grounds as one of the 190 women recruit constables undergoing training at the new Police Training School in Dwarka. The school was recently inaugurated by Delhi Police chief B S Bassi to accommodate women recruits who successfully cleared the entrance.
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After the Central government announced a 33 per cent reservation for women in the police force in direct recruitment, the Delhi Police began the hunt for a new campus to accommodate and train new inductees. Until now, the Delhi Police had only one college in Jharoda Kalan, where all the trainees from the rank of constable to sub-inspector undergo training for nine months.
“At Jharoda Kalan, both men and women train together. There was no women-only training centre. In fact due to lack of space, trainees of the sub-inspector rank had given up their barracks for women constable recruits and were staying in makeshift tents. When the decision to induct more women in the force was taken, we had to build a separate campus for women,” DCP (Training) Suman Nalwa said.
Biju, who has left her two daughters — aged 16 and 10 years — back in Kerala, starts her day at 6 am along with fellow recruits. A session on physical training and parade goes on till 9 am and is followed by breakfast.
Around 10.30 am, academic sessions begin. The 190 recruits are taught several subjects such as police procedure, laws related to women and children, the IPC, cyber crime, criminology, police and society and police investigation of crime against women cases, among others.
A team of seven police personnel conduct these classes which go on till 1 pm. A host of new subjects including forensics and study of fingerprints have been introduced for the trainees.
After lunch break, indoor classes continue till 4 pm and then revision exercises are carried out. Biju is the only one who has opted English as the medium.
“Since I am from Kerala, my Hindi is poor. I understand Hindi but can take my exam only in English. At times, certain sections in the syllabus — like the FIR, which is in Urdu — is difficult to understand. But I have been provided with books in English and the teachers are very helpful,” she said.
“As a woman it is very important to understand how the law and the law-enforcing agencies work. This is for my own empowerment. I have to take care of two daughters, so it is important that I am strong and confident,” she said.
After the classes, the outdoor physical training begins. The recruits are trained in several drills and are made to do exercise to increase their strength and stamina.
The women also use the gymnasium for half an hour. “It is very tiring for them since they do not have enough stamina and the training is very strenuous. If they have to work in the force, they need to be physically fit, else how would they perform on the field? Initially when they came, their legs and feet used to swell, the women kept pushing themselves. They are very enthusiastic,” Inspector Kusum Sharma, in-charge of training colleges said. “We also make sure that we give them a good diet,” she said.
The tough physical training, the Delhi Police uniform and a police badge seemed to have had instilled a sense of confidence in the women, who now even request for extra classes and additional training even during their off days.
“The day I wore this uniform and this badge that had my name and ‘constable’ prefixed, I felt very proud. This uniform gives me strength. Now I know I can face any difficulty that comes my way with confidence. After my husband died, I was left with my two daughters. I knew no one would come forward to help us, which is why I chose to join the force. My daughters supported my decision. They are living away from me, but once these nine months of training get over, I know I will be able to take care of them in a better way as I will be a stronger woman,” Biju said, setting right the crimps on her uniform.
Biju, who has earlier worked with the YWCA and CCWAD, said she has had experiences with police earlier which were not very pleasant and a lot needs to be changed. As a social worker, she feels that the police force needs to be more sensitive.