Woman cop’s tryst with tribal art

Seema Alawa, working as an additional SP in Madhya Pradesh, took to Pithora style of painting in a big way after a chance encounter with the art in 2015, reports Anuraag SIngh

Published: 26th March 2023 08:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2023 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

Seema Alawa

Seema Alawa

Express News Service

MADHYA PRADESH : Back in 2015, while investigating a triple murder case, a woman officer of the Madhya Pradesh police posted as additional SP in Jhabua, came across a Pithora style painting in a village towards which she was so endeared that she took it up as a full-time hobby. 

Seema Alawa (46), a 1998-batch state police service officer, went on to meld the Pithora art style, with other folk styles like Gond and Warli paintings. Till date, she has done 180-odd acrylic paintings, one of which depicting Maa Narmada adorns the walls of the world famous Omkareshwar Temple located on the banks of river Narmada in Khandwa, where she is currently serving as additional SP. 

Her paintings are also displayed at the offices of the collector and police superintendent in Jhabua, Alirajpur, Khandwa and Betul districts; the Raj Bhawan; Central Academy of Police Training (CAPT) in Bhopal, the Indian Embassy in Doha and a prominent hotel in Leicester town of England.   

A painting made by her and her daughter Jahanvi, depicting the menace of child labour and early marriage, was shared by the UNICEF on its social media platform in 2019, to convey the importance of child education.

Recently, she showcased 32 paintings at her first solo exhibition titled ‘Essence of Folk Art’ in Khandwa. In the past, her creations have been featured in group exhibitions at the Indian Police Service (IPS) officers meet in Bhopal, by NGO Jwala in Indore and at Hanuwantiya in Khandwa, which is India’s largest water and adventure vacation destination.

Alawa, who hails from tribal dominated Dhar district, says she was always interested in art, particularly painting, but couldn’t find time and a proper forum to pursue the passion, particularly as her father was in a transferable job in the state commercial tax department.

After joining service as a sub divisional officer police (SDOP), she got busy with battling crime, particularly crime against women. While serving in tribal areas, she paid particular attention to targeting of women over allegations of witchcraft, trafficking of women and related aspects. “I hardly ever found time to wield the paintbrush, but I fell in love with a Pithora painting just by chance,” she recounted.

India Matters


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