Every day, in every city and town across India, police officers go to work — to enforce the law, to make communities safer and to protect members of these communities – people like you and me.
For those of us who don’t have this job, it can be hard to imagine such responsibility. It takes a certain kind of person to perform a police officer’s job — a person who cares more about the safety of others than their own or a person who can solve problems under pressure.
However, doubts have routinely often been expressed in many quarters about the widespread prevalence of politics, corruption, lethargy and a hunger for power in the Indian Police Force.
The good news is that a positive transformation is slowly but steadily rolling in. And its happening due to honest and hardworking IPS officers who believe in contributing to social change, unwilling to buckle under pressure and who look forward to becoming the backbone of the country’s fight against crime.
Here is a list of 10 amazing IPS officers (in no particular order) who give us hope that even a few good officers can make a huge difference in the country.
1. Manish Shanker Sharma
A highly respected name in the Indian police, IPS officer Manish Shankar Sharma’s distinguished career spans several different fields, from law enforcement and transportation security to peacekeeping and diplomacy. However, it is in the field of counter-terrorism strategies and tactics that his contributions have earned the most wide-spread acclaim.
Manish is credited with the introduction of e-reporting of crimes in city policing, of an anti-hijacking policy in aviation security and of quick response teams in railway security. Furthermore, he played a key part in the development of “targets” as invaluable sources of information in the intelligence gathering apparatus of the state.
As Inspector General of Police in Madhya Pradesh, he has also been instrumental in introducing several citizen-friendly initiatives as well as several welfare measures for the benefit of the lower rungs of the police force. In March 2017, during the International Conference of Jurists, he was awarded the National Law Day Award for his efforts towards combating crime.
2. R Sreelekha
They told her that a woman IPS officer will not only find it hard to find a husband but will also have a difficult marriage. These were some of the many arguments people gave R Sreelekha to dissuade her from joining the IPS back in the 80s. But the determined lady refused to give up, going on to become Kerala’s first woman IPS officer in 1987.
Thirty years later, in 2017, Sreelekha shattered yet another glass ceiling by becoming the state’s first woman Director General of Police (DGP). Earlier, while serving in various posts in both state and central deputations, the IPS officer earned much appreciation for her public service.
In fact, she even earned the moniker of ‘Raid Sreelekha’ for being part of the CBI raid teams that didn’t shy away from searching the premises of influential persons. Furthermore, the IPS officer is credited with reducing on-road fatalities by introducing effective safety parameters (during her tenure as Transport Commissioner) and bringing in gender parity in the state’s police force.
She has also attended specialised training at Scotland Yard and written three books on crime investigation.
3. Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat
This year, Telangana-cadre IPS officer Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat (currently Rachakonda Police Commissioner) was conferred with the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes Award by the US state department for his vital role in elevating human trafficking as a government priority, his innovative approach to investigating cases and tireless efforts towards dismantling trafficking operations.
Mahesh has pioneered the use of legal provisions to close sites where human trafficking is known to occur across the state. Under his expertise, Rachakonda police closed 25 brothels – five hotels and 20 residential apartments – in less than a year. They also participated in one of the largest crackdowns on labour trafficking in the country, which led to the identification and removal of more than 350 children forced to work in brick kilns.
In fact, during the 13 years of his illustrious career, Mahesh has rescued over 1,000 women and children from sex trafficking and 800 children from forced labour. In addition to being a central figure in trafficking deterrence efforts, he has also constantly pushed for human trafficking to be a top priority for not just Telangana, but for the whole of India.
4. Asra Garg
After Tamil Nadu cadre IPS officer Asra Garg took over as Tirunelveli’s Superintendent of Police (Rural), one of the first steps he took was forming a dedicated team to weed out loan sharks harassing the local residents. He also asked all local police stations to put up his phone number on a board so that anyone in distress could call him.
He then began cracking down on gangs that operated across the State while keeping communal elements under a close check, ensuring that the caste clashes that the district was infamous for did not spiral into serious situations. He repeated his exemplary work in his next posting (Madurai) with the addition of tackling a violent land mafia and political interference during polls (his effective initiatives earned him special compliments from the then Chief Election Commissioner).
But this popular IPS officer’s policing is not always a matter of wielding the iron hand. From urging his team to be empathetic while dealing with public grievances to reviving a district co-operative and making it pay dividends after almost 18 long years, Asra has shown the tangible impact people-centric policing can create.
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5. Roopa Moudgil
Few bureaucrats have the courage to stand out from the norm. One such IPS officer is Roopa Moudgil. As the Deputy Inspector General (prisons) of Karnataka, the lady made national news this year for exposing corruption in the prison system and the preferential treatment given to AIADMK interim general secretary, V K Sasikala (then lodged in Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara central jail).
Roopa has enjoyed a good record as a police officer. This includes the arrest of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharati in 2004, removal of orderlies and escort vehicles used by former Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa and taking on local politicians or even her own superiors.
Unsurprisingly, the officer has been transferred every year (sometimes even twice) during her 17-year-long career. In fact, she has been summoned multiple times to depose before the Speaker of Karnataka’s Legislative Council after a member from Gadag moved a privilege motion against her for arresting him.
6. Sanjukta Parashar
A rare woman IPS officer from Assam, Sanjukta Parashar is one tough cop. Known as the Iron Lady of Assam, this officer has taken down 16 Bodo militants and arrested over five dozen insurgents in just 15 months while leading the counter-insurgency movement in Assam’s treacherous terrains.
Little wonder Sanjukta has become one of the most feared police officers among Bodo militants. From conducting covert operations and seizing illegal arms in a Naxal-infested territory to spending days at relief camps and encouraging gender sensitivity in the police force, her efforts mark a paradigm shift in the popular gender discourse around law enforcement.
In 2017, Sanjukta was in news for heading the National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigation into the March 7 blast in the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train that lead to ten people getting injured. She was also awarded by the Delhi Commission for Woman (DCW) for her immense contribution in the field of woman empowerment.
7. Shivdeep Lande
During Bihar-cadre IPS officer Shivdeep Lande’s nine-month tenure in Patna, he made headlines for many of his creative ideas to counter crime in the city. For instance, in one of his most popular initiatives, he asked female students of Magadh Mahila College and Patna Women’s College who were facing crank calls and harassment to divert these calls to his number.
Unsurprisingly, under Shivdeep, Patna’s crime rate dropped. In fact, his reputation was so good as an effective policing authority that protests erupted on streets when he was transferred to Araria district from Patna. In Araria too, Lande’s stringent steps to wipe out gangster activity ensconced him in the public imagination as Bihar’s real-life Chulbul Pandey.
Recently, Shivdeep was posted to Mumbai on an inter-state deputation and he hasn’t stopped making waves ever since. After making his mark on the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC), he worked his magic on the Social Service Branch (SSB) too. From rescuing child labourers and bar girls to busting drug deals and sex rackets being run in shady clinics, his steps have effectively overhauled the previously ‘non-performing’ department.
8. Arif Sheikh
In 2017, Bastar’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Aarif Sheikh was awarded the prestigious International Association of Chief of Police (IACP) Award 2017 in Pennsylvania in the ‘Homeland Security’ category for his campaign ‘Amcho Bastar, Amcho Police’. With this, he became the only IPS officer of the country to win this award in community policing twice in a row!
Sheikh’s ‘Amcho Bastar, Amcho Police’ initiative is aimed at bridging the gap between the police and tribal communities by assimilating their unique traditions and culture. At the same time, the police also focus on neutralising left-wing extremism by bringing back surrendered Maoists into the mainstream by giving them alternative earning opportunities.
Through Sheikh’s campaign, the Bastar police have also come to the aid of few children, who were trapped in the clutches of the Bal Sangham of Maoists, who were used to plant IEDs against the security personnel. These children were then sent for counselling followed by rehabilitation for skill development and studies.
9. Ake Ravi Krishna
Setting an example for everyone, in 2017, IPS officer Ake Ravi Krishna (Superintendent of Police in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district) adopted the entire village of Kapatrala at a time when the village was beset by a series of faction killings and revenge murders.
Starting with getting the district collector to sanction an amount of Rs 60 lakh for the construction of rooms in a government school, he has been actively involved in a variety of initiatives including the construction of roads and starting literacy programmes in the village.
This is not all. The civic-minded IPS officer is also on a mission to raise awareness on eye donation amidst the villagers. Having pledged to donate his organs last year, he has also composed and sung a song, encouraging people to donate their eyes after death. Shared widely on several social media platforms, his efforts have since inspired over 1.5 lakh people to register for eye donation!
10. Shrestha Thakur
In 2017, UP-cadre IPS Officer Shrestha Thakur proved that women in uniform are not to be messed with. In a video that went viral, the Bulandshar DSP was seen confronting BJP party workers and fining them for riding motorcycles “without any documents, number plate and helmet.”
With a group of belligerent men surrounding the cop, was Shrestha daunted? She wasn’t. The forthright officer sent five of the party workers to jail for creating obstacles in discharging government duties. A fortnight later, she was transferred. However, it didn’t stop Shrestha’s bravado and sense of duty from garnering much applause and acclaim from the citizens across the country, not just in Uttar Pradesh.
In fact, the feisty lady herself took to her Facebook account to say that she saw her transfer “as a reward for my good work”. Giving the post a poetic turn, she also wrote, “Jahaan bhi jayega, roshni lutaega. Kisi chirag ka apna makaan nai hota (Wherever it is kept, it will spread its light; a lamp does not have a home of its own).”