Delhi Police’s women’s patrol unit gets pink gear, scooters to look different from men
Delhi Police’s special women’s patrol unit has been assigned a new tool by which they can be distinguished from male colleagues — the colour code pink — in a move that came in for criticism for furthering gender stereotypes.
Police veterans said the idea of a uniform as something uniform for all must be upheld.
“There should be no discrimination when an officer wears a uniform. This is the reason why it is called a uniform. Just because they are women officers, one should not give them vehicles that are girly in colour. This is contrary to the spirit of the uniform. There should be no discrimination in uniform, vehicles, arms or ammunition,” said retired IPS officer Vikram Singh who served as the director-general of the Uttar Pradesh police between 2007 and 2009.
This 16-member team, patrolling the streets of north-east Delhi since September, is tasked with preventing crimes against women in vulnerable parts of the city by both “approachable” and “effective” at the same time, according to senior officers.
To this end, they now ride pink-and-white scooters, and wear pink helmets.
“Since the uniform worn by both the genders is similar, the women teams wouldn’t look different from a distance. We wanted a women’s team that had a marked presence on the roads, and yet was approachable,” said Ved Prakash Surya, deputy commissioner of police (north-east).
The experiment, first started in 2014 as a bike-borne unit, has gone through several changes. The motorcycles were later replaced with off-white scooters, and this September, the scooters were given a makeover with pink-and-white checks painted on them. “The team of 16 policewomen now patrol the vulnerable places in two shifts every day,” DCP Surya added.
The two daily shifts, 11am to 1pm, and then 5pm to 7pm, coincide with the time when young girls leave school in the morning and when women and children visit parks in the evening, the DCP said.
Sukh Darshan, 30, a member of this team, says their day begins with the 16 women assembling at the DCP’s office in Seelampur for a briefing. They then set out together on their on eight scooters -- one driver and one pillion each.
“Each pillion rider is armed with a pistol. The scooters are equipped with batons, pepper spray, and hooters. When we move, the public must know of our presence,” said Darshan.
From the DCP’s office, the team moves to neighbourhoods such as Maujpur, Babarpur, Durgapuri, Nand Nagri, Main Wazirabad Road, Yamuna Vihar, Bhajanpura, Khajuri Chowk, Shastri Park, Dharampura and Pusta Road-- clocking a total distance of about 20km, twice every day.
Malti Sharma, another member of the team, said that the two-hour rides are marked by frequent halts, mainly outside schools, colleges, markets, and parks. On Wednesday afternoon, the team was hailed outside a park in Yamuna Vihar by three schoolgirls who were being harassed by a man wearing a cap.
“We spotted him at a distance, chased and caught him. The accused identified us immediately. He fell on the feet of the girls and begged for forgiveness, but we called the local police and handed him over to them,” Sharma said.
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