Uttar Pradesh police officer Charu Nigam grabbed national headlines this week after standing up to a BJP legislator and a photo of her teary eyed went viral on social media, garnering sympathy and support across India.
But local activists and residents in UP’s Jhansi – where she was posted earlier – remember her as an upright officer who took on entrenched political interests many times.
She had ruffled quite a few feathers by taking on the might of the mining mafia as well as illicit liquor smugglers during her stint in Jhansi in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. People there still remember her as a bold and upright officer.
On Sunday, BJP MLA from Gorakhpur Sadar Radha Mohan Das Agarwal publically rebuked her for taking action against a group of his supporters who were staging a protest. At one point of the incident, she got emotional.
“She’s right when she said not to misinterpret her tears as weakness,” says social activist Sanjay Singh, who works in the underdeveloped region.
Despite the intense media glare, Charu has refused to give up. “Logic is failing its ground ! Has any lathi charge that too hitting a pregnant woman & old lady so claimed ever gone uncovered,” she wrote on Facebook on Tuesday in an attempt to scotch allegations by the MLA that she kicked a five-month pregnant woman and thrashed a 70-year-old person.
Singh says he remembers her as a tough woman. She conducted raids on illegal mining sites and ordered crackdown against the anti-social elements running those unlicensed ventures, Singh recalled, adding threats and pressure tactics adopted by the so-called representatives of the local peoples failed to deter her.
She also launched a drive against the land grabbers and won many hearts, he said.
It was Nigam’s first posting as a trainee IPS officer. During her stint in Jhansi, she worked as ASP, Barua Sagar.
“Apart from her toughness, people of the area also witnessed her humane side. Once on her way to Jhansi she saw a boy bleeding on the road side. She immediately stopped her car and took the injured boy to a hospital,” Singh said.
She motivated people to participate in blood donation camps organised by Maharani Laxmibai Medical College in Jhansi.
“She was also inquisitive and always eager to learn. When she came to know that a clerk, Gurudev, posted in Kotwali police station in Jhansi was good in drafting, she did not hesitate to approach him to take a few tips from him,” said local journalist Mahesh Paterea.
She was transferred to Gorakhpur in December 2016. As in-charge of anti-Romeo squad, she was unforgiving on eve teasers. She was also in news for detaining lawyers who created ruckus during the MLC election.
Born in a middle class family in Agra, Charu, a 2013 batch IPS officer from the UP cadre, did her BTech from IIT Roorkie before trying her luck in civil services to fulfill wish of her father MS Nigam, who worked as engineer with the Delhi Development Authority.
In 2011, she lost her father. The loss had pushed her into a state of severe depression, affecting her health, career and family. It took her about a year to recover to continue her civil services preparations. She failed to crack the civil service exam in 2012, but succeeded in the second attempt in 2013.
Recalling her school and college days, she says she used laugh a lot even in the classes for which she was even punished on several occasions.