Looking Down on Women is a Mental Disability: DIG Sumathi

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The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Women Safety Wing of the Telangana State, B Sumathi, IPS
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  • Exclusive interview with the DIG of Women’s Wing of Telangana Police, Sumathi
  • Being firm is not rude, says sensitive women cop
  • Meaning of male and female relation should undergo a change

The first woman DSP of Telangana who in a short span of time was elevated to an IPS rank officer. She has championed the cause of woman issues in the capacity as DIG of Women’s Wing of the Telangana Police Force and made a mark of her own in settling their issues albeit with a human touch. She has literally given a different meaning to the Policing while fighting for their empowerment.

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She shares the travails and tribulations all through her journey both in personal and professional life in an exclusive interview with a ‘Talk Show with‘ our Special Correspondent Aravind Kolli.

Excerpts from Interview:

  1. Madam! I still remember your role as more than a Police Officer in rescuing the passengers of a Golconda Express that derails in Warangal. My friends from that area still recollect the way you struggled to save them. What made you do so?

Ans: I reacted because there was a chance to save those trapped in bogies hanging in balance from the bridge after the derailment. There was a lot of people around watching the accident site but none were coming forward unless I jumped into action. And as expected the crowd helped me in rescuing at least 21 people including women, children and aged alike. It was not just my luck to have a chance for a Police officer to save people on the spot but also god’s that save them.

2. I see that you can emotionally connected to it!

Ans: Yes. I cannot forget that incident in my life. Moreover, it was my first posting as a DSP. And imagine a person’s emotion when death is in front of him.

3. I have observed you involving civilians in most issues be it at Medak where you worked as SP and as a DCP in Hyderabad city? What was your strategy behind it?

Ans: As a civilian, I have seen the importance of police right from my childhood and I am well aware that what Civilians think about police as I came from a rural background. My native village is almost on the border of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at Rayalaseema called Nadigadda between Krishna and Tungabhadra river wherein police play a major role in social issues. Even when two brothers quarrel, they listen only to the police. This was the impact the police could make on society. Hence, I thought of involving people in dealing with social issues. What we call it as a friendly policing. This is the same methodology what our Police officers are advocating now.

4. You seem to be a very sensitive woman. How come you chose to be a police officer as Khakis are considered as stone-hearted and tough.

Ans: It was purely Choice. Not Chance. I have not given a second thought in selecting. But incidents like bomb blasts at Dilsukhnagar and encounter of two terrorists the next day made me learn as probationer as to how meticulously the department works with the discipline to maintain order in the society. And subsequently, I took charge as Warangal DSP as part of a job chart. Their people are highly emotional. I think being sensitive was an advantage to me as a police officer.

5. I have never seen you being cutthroat or rude as a police officer?

Ans: (Laughs..) It’s not like that. Sometimes I will be. But firmness is different being rude is different. What I feel is Police is not the solution to all the problems in society. They only have access to them 24×7. But they cannot be an answer to every issue in society. If we are sensitive to their problems, they feel confident and assured.

6. Considering your vast experience as a police officer in different situations, which one you feel was very touch both professionally and personally?

Ans: Professionally means working in the Intelligence department was a tough thing. All others were not that much. In fact, I enjoyed working. Personally, means people say that handling political pressures are a tough thing. But I did not face any such thing nor found handling anything tough but except for the present position as the DIG of women’s wing as we need to hear every day sorrows of every woman.

Personally, it is difficult to imagine ourselves in their position. For example, a wife of a government employee came to me and requested to take action against another person who is also a top officer in govt with whom she had extramarital affair. Today, the person is taking advantage of that and forcing her each time. Unable to bear the pressure, she came to me for a solution.

This is something tricky. Because she cannot be so open with her husband as the male does with their wives. A person can easily either seek an apology or can say let’s part. But a lady cannot say easily in this issue as the society will not accept her. This is something which the police cannot resolve. I feel in most of the domestic cases not pitiable but very sad that we the police are not able to do justice beyond a particular point.

It’s not just police, even judges are helpless! I have a case wherein a judge in Vijayawada whose sister being tortured by her husband in Vizag. He harasses her so much that he deliberately pulls her pyjama in front of the children. She can simply walk out! But we cannot give that ruling as our society has not grown to that level yet.

In such situations, I feel very sad that I couldn’t help them as it’s beyond my purview.

7. As for NRI marital issues are concerned, it has become chronic now I believe? How do you handle this?

Ans: We have set up Women Safety Wing for the second consecutive year now. As a prelude, we had prepared a vision document after several meetings with the Chief Minister. The result is SHE TEAMS which has become so popular. We could succeed by creating fear among culprits on one side and boosted the morale of the victims on the other. We have divided each crime into a module and dealing with it individually and It’s now functioning well. NRI cell is one such module in that.

In 17 women police stations, we have NRI marriage issues with different dimensions as most of them are honeymoon marriages. Once, the honeymoon ends, the girl comes back with a child in her arms and lodges a complaint. That guy either will have a living companion or already married. So, he won’t accept for divorce as he had to compensate her. She doesn’t get either divorce legally or she owns her kids as they are born abroad. Moreover, the parents have already parted their properties as dowry. She becomes helpless.

Hence, it becomes difficult for us to bring him back in the absence of any laws to this effect. We are able to hardly register cases but can help nothing much.

8. What steps to be taken to resolve NRI marriage issues?

Ans: Good question. That is why we have formed this NRI cell with a group of advocates and police officers. Before that, we visited states like Gujarat, Punjab to study their model of handling these cases. But we found that they are only doing arbitration. Then we thought to bring in all NRI wings in the various departments under this cell and called for a number of cases registered so far. To our surprise, due to lack of laws, we found nearly 800 cases were pending in Telangana and to top it all not a single accused was brought here in any case till date. We sought the help of 2 NGOs and National Women’s Commission in this case and launched a massive campaign alerting parents about the NRI marriages after identifying the causes.

In most of the cases, victims won’t file complaints locally in their respective countries, but they lodge here after returning home. The paradox is that most of them do not even aware of their rights and local marriage laws in their countries where they are residing, though they are all well-educated. In order to plug these loopholes, we have decided to help the victims in all these areas and there is significant progress in about 24 cases in this one year of its existence. We could also impound passports in 6 cases.

9. What do you have to say about misusing Section 498 of a Marriage Act?

Ans:  Yes. I do agree there is harassment in these issues from girls’ side. But 90 per cent are genuine cases. So, first will establish the motive behind the issue based on which we categorise the cases. Genuine cases are put in the first category which will be pursued at the Ministry of External Affairs level to bring the accused back.

But in the second category, as you said, both victim and accused stay abroad but they file a case here against in-laws. This clearly shows that they are taking advantage of the law. In this case, now after we made the renewal of LOC mandatory for NRIs, most of them are requesting the local SHOs not to renew their LOCs automatically as they would come and renew it here. This is a good development.

They have suffered silently all these years because there was no window for them to approach or no one to represent their grievance in this regard.

10. Can you elaborate on what is Honey Moon Marriage?

Ans: Honey Moon marriages are made by parents but not wanted by the children. The intention can be anything like it may be a temporary arrangement, or he must be already having an affair and may be due to pressure from parents etc. These marriages do not last long.

11. Can you quote one such case?

Ans: There is one case in which a boy married to his own niece whose parents had sent him to London and after receiving a green card and settling down there with their money he refused her and sent her back. She has now 11-years son with him. Her parents and in-laws both are illiterates. Her in-laws have sent her away to her parents though the house they are living in was given in dowry to them. Being herself educated she had been struggling to trace him for 12 years now. We could finally trace him and called him to the embassy and threatened to impound his passport due to which he obliged to settle the issue. He is yet to come here.

12. What bothered you much in your profession?

Ans: Child rapes and women rapes. We get at least 200 child rape cases every month. Most of the accused were found to be near ones including relatives who take advantage of her proximity and indulge in such acts. The meaning of the relationship between a male and female should undergo change. This is because a woman is being seen as an object of lust. They should be treated as an individual and start respecting her.

This is a kind of mental disorder who take the woman for granted. They think that, if there is no light, they got a chance either touch a woman or take advantage. This is barbaric. It is not a security issue here so that police can protect her. How police or a mother for that matter can protect a girl from her relatives? This is threatening even boys. They are also becoming prey to this barbarism. In fact, such people are evil to society. We should change them.

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