PATNA: The violent protests staged by trainee women police constables at New Police Lines in Patna in November last were sparked not just because of a young constable’s death but due to the accumulated anger among the women constables against harassment by their male officer in charge, an NGO has found after a probe.
“The trainee women constables had been facing the systematic brunt of deep-rooted anti-women bias in the police force in Bihar and even harassment of a distinctly sexual nature by a DSP who was their officer in charge and his bodyguard,” said social activist Kanchan Bala of the Citizens’ Initiative against Violence against Women (CIVW) to this newspaper.
A six-member CIVW team probed the violent rampage and pitched battle on the streets hundreds of trainee police constables engaged in on November 2 last year. While it was believed at the time that they were angry because a 21-year-old newly recruited woman constable had died of dengue that day, CIVW’s probe found that “constantly insensitive and indecent behaviour” by DSP Maslehuddin Ahmad and his bodyguard Umesh Kumar.
Ahmed, Kumar and sergeant-major Ashish Kumar were injured when hundreds of trainee police constables, most of them women and recruited barely two months ago, staged a veritable revolt against the police brass and attacked senior officials. They also ransacked official residences of the officials and damaged some 20 police vehicles in a televised protest lasting for nearly two hours.
“When the women constables sought special leave, the DSP used to insist on an inquiry to know of the health reasons behind the leaves sought and was also asking the women to submit video proofs… In other words, the male officer in charge was asking the women constables to show him their nude photographs,” said the NGO’s report, which was based on conversations with at least 50 women constables.
All women employees in government service are allowed special leave of four days in a month for reasons of menstruation, said Kanchan Bala. As per the rules specified in this regard, the controlling authority has no right to demand the reasons for any woman employee seeking special leave, she added.
As many as 164 trainee women constables were among 175 cops dismissed from service following the rampage. But CIVW’s study found that a three-member team of senior police officials that conducted the probe did not speak to any of the women constables involved during the probe.
“The trainee women constables should be immediately reinstated in their jobs and a criminal case should be registered against the DSP and others who had been harassing them,” said Kanchan Bala.