After Beed constable Lalita Salve was granted permission to undergo a sex reassignment surgery and join the Maharashtra Police as male constable ‘Lalit Salve’, a woman constable deployed with the Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) has written to its chief, seeking a similar permission.
Following the request, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) DG has written to the Maharashtra Police, seeking details of the orders and terms and conditions under which the government had granted permission to Salve. If permitted, this would be the third case in the country in which a policewoman has been re-inducted into the force after undergoing a gender correction surgery.
The RPSF is a special arm of the RPF and had started a female battalion in 2015. Incidentally, the request has been made by a constable from its first batch.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Namrata Singh (name changed) said that while her family was aware that she had underdeveloped male reproductive organs right from her childhood, she was raised as a woman. “It was only last year when a medical test was conducted that the doctors told me that I have male genitals… Law permits me to undergo a gender correction surgery. Therefore, in July, I wrote to my seniors seeking permission for the same… I have also requested them to re-induct me as male constable,” said Singh, who is attached to the RPF in Delhi.
“My seniors are very supportive and I am very confident that I will get a positive reply… my application would be processed,” she added. After undergoing the surgery, she is ready to take the physical fitness test required by a male aspirants to join the force, said Singh. “I was among the first batch of female constables inducted by RPF as a part of its special unit. During selection, I had appeared in the capacity of a female aspirant,” she says.
The selection criteria for women aspirants is a bit relaxed when compared to their male counterparts. “While male candidates are required to run 1,600 m, the females are required to run only 800 m. Also, high jump and long jump distances for a male and female candidates vary,” said a senior RPF official.
The RPF, meanwhile, has received the correspondence pertaining to Salve’s case from the Maharashtra Police. “They have sent us all the documents, including the view taken by the state law and judiciary departments that treated Salve’s as a special case. The case papers and the communique has been forwarded to the board to take an informed decision,” the official said.
The state police had initially rejected Salve’s request on the ground that it concerned change in selection rules, something that can be mandated only by the government. It was only after the matter was highlighted in the media, the home department took a lenient view and directed the Beed police to absorb Salve as a male constable.
“The selection rules haven’t been amended for decades. It does not mention the third gender or what should be done with an application like this one. In the 21st century, sexual orientation should not be the criteria to determine professional acumen. It is time the rules are amended,” said a senior officer.
However, many are skeptical that permitting such “special cases” might open a pandora’s box. “As the selection criteria for females are lenient, at the time of undertaking the test, a person might claim that he is a female and later after selection, file an application asking to be accommodated as a male cop. In both cases, they were selected under reserved category… allowing their applications for being treated as a male is denying right to life and justice to female candidates who were rejected. What about their fundamental and human rights?” asked an officer.