She wears the pants

Manjit Kaur, the only woman in Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal’s team, checks everything twice and doesn’t take the elevator.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Published: April 19, 2014 11:49 pm

It is an important day. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the sitting MP from Bathinda and wife of deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, is filing her nomination for the Lok Sabha elections. And Manjit Kaur, a DSP officer in the security cover of CM Parkash Singh Badal, who would also be present during the nomination, is specially vigilant.

She arrives at the mini-secretariat in Bathinda at 8.30 am, three hours before the Badals’ scheduled arrival. After a quick meeting with the district police officers, Kaur, along with 15 other DSP-rank officers, heads inside the complex to carry out her security drill. Officers are assigned different floors, and she is given the ground and first floors.

Kaur stands out not just because she is the only woman among the security officers, but also because she is particularly agile and focussed. She has a brisk gait, and wastes no time talking, or even getting into the elevator. Other officers use the lift, but Kaur walks up the stairs. “I am an athlete, so I prefer not to use lifts,” says the 28-year-old who received the Arjuna award in 2006 for athletics.

Born in a small village in Gurdaspur to a sub-inspector and a homemaker, Kaur learnt to be independent early on. At the age of 13, she was put in a boarding school in Jalandhar where she also trained in running. She has won over a 100 medals in international events, including a silver in the Commonwealth Games (2006), and a gold each in the Commonwealth Games (2010) and the Asian Games (2010).  In July 2011, she joined the Punjab Armed Police as DSP.

Just seven months ago, she was inducted into the security cover of the Chief Minister though she is also “on duty for the deputy CM”. “I am proud to be part of the CM’s security. This is something I never imagined,” is all what the taciturn Kaur offers, when we ask her how she feels about her job.

Kaur, with a metal detector in hand and a sniffer dog in tow, checks as many corners as she can — including the windows, doors, under the desks and chairs, inside  cabinets and drawers and dustbins — in the rooms of the returning officer where the Badals would be present for filing the nomination papers.

The process is long, and it takes close to two hours to complete the security check of the building, deploy police officers in and around the complex, and ensure everyone has taken their positions. By 11 am, the process is complete, and the CM’s team of woman commandos arrives. Kaur, till now mostly quiet, begins chatting with the woman commandos.

It’s also not hard to miss her girly side when she says with a smile, “People often compare me to super-cop Chandramukhi Chautala in TV show FIR. Initially, there were two girls in the security cover, but five months ago, the other girl got shifted elsewhere,” she says. Does she feel uncomfortable being the only woman in her work group?

“For the first two weeks, I did, but now it doesn’t matter. What only matters to me is to be perfect at what I do — so I check everything twice to be sure,” she says.

As a woman officer, her duties with the CM and the deputy CM are limited to Punjab, while the men accompany the Badals across the country. It’s 11.15 am, and the Badals are about to reach the venue. Kaur takes her position at the entrance of the building, and greets Sukhbir Singh and Harsimrat Kaur Badal by standing in attention as they get off their car. A minute later, CM Parkash Singh Badal’s car arrives and she greets him too.

To shield them from the several mediapersons present, Kaur, along with her team, forms a ring around the VVIPs and escorts them safely to the lift. Then, she runs up the stairs and reaches the first floor before the lift does, and escorts them to the returning officer’s room where Harsimrat is to file her nomination.

While they are in the room, Kaur takes position near the Badals’ cars, where mediapersons are waiting. By 12.30, the family has addressed the media, and are ready to leave. Kaur opens the door for the CM, and after he is comfortably seated, shuts it, preventing access to journalists haggling for more bytes.

The CM is headed towards rallies in support of his daughter-in-law, but Kaur has to report to the CM’s residence in his ancestral Badal village, half an hour away. She takes out an energy bar from her pocket and takes a quick bite before getting on to an SUV.

Kaur’s schedule has become hectic with the elections. Since more people come to visit Badal these days, she’s got a lot of vehicles to check. As the Badals are not home, Kaur turns them away. The Badals return at 9 pm, and relieve Kaur because she’s “had a very long day”. She heads back to her hostel, and will report the next day at 8 am at the Badals’ home again.

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