At the Parel TT junction, the traffic is chaotic. And, amid the turmoil, stands Priya Nanaware, 28, a traffic cop, directing drivers and spotting errant ones trying to jump the traffic signal. Nanaware is one of 55 women police officers inducted in the city police's traffic department last year.
After police commissioner Arup Patnaik initiated the move, more than 100 women have been inducted as traffic constables. They regularly manage several important junctions in the city. Earlier, women were taken in only at the inspector level.
"You have to imagine 10 kg of ice on your head and 1 kg of sugar on your tongue when you work as a traffic cop. You have to cajole and convince everyone from a truck driver to a Mercedes Benz owner to obey traffic rules," said Nanaware, 28, who joined the police force in 2007 after working at a stock broking firm. "People are also careful while speaking to us, they are courteous and avoid bribing when caught," Nanaware said.
Women officers said traffic duty involved gruelling long shifts, standing for several hours in the polluted environment and engaging with rash drivers.
"If a VIP has to go to the airport then our duty hours may stretch. But, we feel proud that we are providing safe and secure passage for them. It is the satisfaction of the job that helps you tide over difficult moments," said Deepshikha Ware, 36, assistant police inspector, Vakola division.
"I believe it is an opportunity to do work for the people. If I reach 15 minutes before my shift, I give 15 hours of smooth traffic to people. As a woman, I am also able to nurture my team and understand people's problems better," said Sujata Patil, 45, inspector in charge of the Matunga traffic division. Patil was recently in the news for helping a pregnant woman deliver on the road near Sion hospital.
Deployment of women as traffic cops has not only provided an opportunity to women but it also helps improve the image of Mumbai as a gender-friendly city said additional commissioner Brijesh Singh.