‘Always wanted to try out things not expected from a girl’
On Sunday morning when 45 year old Sangita Mitra drove past Rajpath, mounted atop a seven foot ladder placed on her motor cycle, the crowd gathered could not stop roaring with excitement. For the mother of two, resident of Samastipur village in Bihar, it was a dream that came true.
“I felt like I was flying in air. No man has done a stunt like this before. I wanted to challenge all men that there is nothing that women cannot do,” says Mitra beaming with pride.
For the 57 women from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who stole the show the 71st Republic Day celebration with their dare devil motorcycle stunts, the performance at Rajpath was a triumphant culmination of an effort that began six years back when their seniors had first decided to form an all-women motorcycle stunts team.
“We had performed for the first time on November 2, 2014 at India Gate. Thereafter, we performed at several parts of India alongside carrying out our regular duties,” says Mitra. She explains that they were informed about their performance at Rajpath about a week back and that for the last seven days they have been practising every day for 14-15 hours.
This is the first time that women have performed motorcycle stunts in a Republic Day parade.
“Ever since I was a child I always wanted to try out things that went against what was expected from a girl. My parents supported me immensely, and even after I got married my husband and in-laws showed the same support,” says 44 year old Meena Chaudhury who displayed the two 9mm pistols in both her hands while balancing herself amazingly on her motorcycle.
Mitra too says that her fight against societal expectations started out since she was a child. “As a child when I would ride a bicycle to school, my neighbours would taunt my parents about that. But my parents did not give in and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted,” she says.
“It is not easy for a woman with a child to be in this profession unless her family is supportive,” says Seema Nag (36) who is mother of a nine year old boy. At the parade, she was seen saluting while standing atop a moving motorcycle.
Speaking about the strength involved in carrying out these stunts, Chaudhury says that “as part of the CRPF, we are in any case trained in physical fitness. But in case of stunts we are taught to combine physical strength with mental tenacity.”
Talking about what the stunts at Rajpath meant to her, Chaudhury says that “we performed in front of so many Indians and foreigners. In a way we gave out a strong message that our women are no less than men or women from other countries.” “I feel like I have won a war,” she says.