May 9, 2019 5:59:08 am
On Sunday, a picture of four plainclotheswomen pointing guns at a gangster who was on Gujarat police’s ‘Wanted’ list, Jusab Allahrakha Sandh, went viral on social media. Santok Odedara (30), Nitmika Gohil (34), Shakuntala Mal (29) and Aruna Gameti (40) were among the team of five sub inspectors, the fifth being Jignesh Agrawat, who nabbed Jusab. They are among the first batch of women to be trained in anti-terror operations and posted in the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
Odedara says the motive behind taking the picture was to send out a message, especially in the districts of Botad where Jusab was hiding, and Junagadh which is his hometown, that he was not as invincible as was dreaded.
“The idea was to send a message to the local cops that Jusab is a nobody. Isko toh female officers ne hi pakad liya (This man was caught by women officers),” Odedara told The Indian Express. “The gangster had been on the run for the past two years and had created a cloud of fear around him. He had skipped parole and was accused of a murder in Rajkot in 2017. Well-versed with jungle routes, he used to terrorise and subdue the locals.”
An official in the ATS told this paper that Agrawat took the picture of the women once Jusab was overpowered and tied up. “But we did not release this picture officially,” said the official.
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Jusab, believed to be in his fifties, has 23 cases of murder, attempt to murder, loot, assault on cops and vandalism registered against him in Ahmedabad (city and rural), Junagadh and Rajkot police stations. According to ATS officials, Jusab had created an aura of fear around him, which was heavily borrowed from Bollywood films.
“Jusab had a horse with him and he used to ride it often, carrying weapons on his back, and used to scale the forest area. He lived in a hut which had no power connection and no mobile phone. It had become some sort of folklore among the locals of Junagadh and Botad,” said Shakuntala Mal.
The officers revealed that the ATS had been trying to trace Jusab for the past three months and the plan to nab him was made on Saturday when Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Himanshu Shukla received a tip from an informant regarding his presence in Botad. “Four other male constables also joined in the operation,” Shukla told this paper.
“We are a small unit of 50 officers and almost all of them take part in whatever operations we conduct. When the tip was received, it was just coincidental that out of the five-member team, four were female. Both men and women officers receive equal training in our unit and are prepared for any assignment,” said Shukla.
The ATS officers reiterated that they did not seek help from the local police in their operation and had depended on Google Maps to reach the Botad forest area.
“As soon as the team was formed, we had a quick strategy meeting, where we used Google Maps to find out about the area mentioned by the informant and the route we could use. However, when we reached the area around 3.15 am on Sunday, we realised that it was deep jungle and no vehicle could go inside,” said Mal. “We then trekked for at least one hour, and using the coordinates we finally reached the spot. However, we waited for two more hours for sunlight and then finally nabbed him.”
The women officers said they had received ballistic training for one year before joining the police service. “We have been trained to handle all kinds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the police academy. We were also trained to survive in forest areas with minimum resources. This training came in handy in the operation. Even in the ATS, we get trained on a continuous basis and the women officers are as prepared as the men,” Mal said.
Among the four officers, the senior most is Aruna Gameti (40), a native of Aravalli district, who till 2012 was a homemaker. She then appeared for the written and physical test to enter the state police services and was selected. Gameti has been serving in the ATS for the past five years and has been a part of numerous operations of the agency.
Odedara completed her Masters in Journalism in 2012, Shakuntala Masters in Science in 2013 and Nitmika LLB (Bachelor of Legislative Law) before joining the police.
“It was my childhood dream to become a cop and no one in my family had ever been one. I was lucky to get an opportunity to work in the ATS in 2017 when the Director General of Police (Shivanand Jha) sanctioned transfers of (women) officers,” said Odedara.
With inputs from Gopal Kateshiya
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