IN A step towards gender-neutral policing, 37 woman cops have been trained and deployed for field duty of beat marshal in the Aurangabad rural police jurisdiction. Preparatory training for their on-ground deployment ranged from driving lessons to sensitisation about how they were not just meant for desk jobs, senior officials said.
These 37 woman constabulary staff have now been given responsibilities of beats under 23 different police stations in Aurangabad rural jurisdiction, which predominantly has a rural and semi-urban profile and covers the area in Aurangabad district other than Aurangabad city police commissionerate.
As beat marshals, these women will be responsible for carrying out duties related to a set of villages or towns under a particular police station.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Superintendent of Police (Aurangabad Rural) Mokshada Patil said the initial idea and encouragement to implement it came from Inspector General of Police (Aurangabad Range) KMM Prasanna.
“The initial discussion took place in November and we asked woman constables in the force, close to 600, as to who would be interested in doing beat marshal duties; 37 came forward. In the third week of December, we conducted their orientation training module. The module consisted of training them for a plethora duties. But more than that, it was about changing their perception about their own duties. It was about bringing them out of the notion that they were meant for desk jobs or basic deployment duties and prepare them for beat marshal responsibilities,” Patil said.
According to norms, beat marshal cops are assigned a specific area under a police station. Along with extensive patrolling, beat marshals are also supposed to regularly visit village residents, meet police patils, representatives of Tanta Mukti Abhiyan (dispute-free village initiative), collect information on law and order situation, process complaint applications, accidental death reports among others.
To start with, most of the 37 newly appointed beat marshals have been allotted beats closer to the police stations. They will later be assigned areas farther away as receive more training on the job. Beat areas in rural jurisdictions have much larger areas than those in urban jurisdictions. At present, the marshals are patrolling areas in police cars, but soon they will get bikes as well.
Akanksha Mule, a beat marshal at Karmad police station, said, “When the appeal was made asking which one of us would be interested, I thought that it was an opportunity for me to expand my scope of duties. Some people ask us if timings can be an issue, but we and our families are already used to odd and constantly changing work hours. The difference is that of desk duty and field. We are being trained in riding bikes, driving cars and other basic responsibilities of beat policing. I am sure that with more field experience, we will understand more on-ground policing nuances, make more contacts among people, ultimately preparing us better for any challenge. I am sure there will be challenges, but we will learn from them.”
Asked if the number of woman beat marshals would increase, Patil said, “I sincerely hope so. I think the lessons from this batch would certainly carve a path for woman beat cops in the coming days. The idea is to make policing more gender neutral at our end to begin with, so as to ensure that our responses to people’s issues also become more gender neutral.”
There have been initiatives to appoint woman beat marshals in the past, in various jurisdictions of the state, but it is for the first time that this is being done in significant numbers and, that too, predominantly in rural areas.
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