The Siddaramaiah government seems to have followed the time-tested system of not overlooking seniority by appointing Neelamani Raju, a 1983 batch IPS officer, as the Director General and Inspector General of Police. A woman officer will head Karnataka police—which like other uniformed forces across the country is largely dominated by men—for the first time.
The number of women officers in the department has seen a steady increase from just three officers in 1985 when Neelamani joined the department to more than 20 officers in senior positions today. While crimes against women seem to be on the rise, not many women, even among the educated class, feel confident of walking into a police station.
Even when in distress, women would like to be accompanied by a male family member, as police stations do not have enough women officers. Further, the officials usually advise the complainants against filing an FIR; they don’t do this directly, but subtly by explaining the complications of going through the system to get justice.
Soon after taking over as the state police chief, Neelamani did admit that there was a need to sensitise the force in handling crimes against women, and police stations need to be women-friendly.
Neelamani, who has an unblemished track record and spent over two decades in sensitive positions at the central intelligence agencies, has her job cut out. Her immediate challenge is to handle the much-talked-about Tipu Jayanti celebrations on November 10.
The Assembly elections early next year will be another challenging task. Political interference is a tricky aspect that all senior officers have to deal with while they go about their plans to bring in change.
However, Neelamani’s real challenge is to make officers at the station level more women-friendly and proactive in addressing women’s issues. Without that, having a woman officer as head of the department will only be a symbolic gesture.