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Soft power

From the cushy world of a marketing manager, to trailing dodgy criminals in the recent kidney racket, Moradabad ASP Manzil Saini is still to figure out how it all happened, reports Namita Kohli.
By Namita Kohli | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON FEB 23, 2008 01:55 AM IST

From the cushy world of a marketing manager, to trailing dodgy criminals in the recent kidney racket, Moradabad ASP Manzil Saini is still to figure out how it all happened. “Do you believe in destiny?” asks the petite IPS officer, as she tries to find an answer. Possibly because she has shot to fame in the first three months of her career: unearthing the now high-profile kidney racket by Dr Amit Kumar, from a seemingly small tip-off from her constables on January 22.

Perhaps, as the bright-eyed officer reasons, it was destiny. “Usually, officers tend to brush off such small information, especially when it’s a case involving poor people. But I have learnt to act on every little bit. It was all foggy when we sent our constables incognito as prospective donors to Meerut. Once there, the enormity of the situation started to unravel,” says the former Delhiite.

Indeed, it could well be ‘destiny’ that brought the St Stephen’s Physics Hons graduate — later a Delhi School of Economics business student — here in the very first place. “I wanted to do something challenging,” she says, browsing through the day’s crime files. Though her father is with the Delhi Police and she counts Kiran Bedi as a ‘childhood hero’, joining the forces was not really on the agenda. Especially since she had been married for seven years, with two children and a career of three years with the corporate industry.

“I was, in fact, the only one married and with kids in my batch of eight women officers. The trainers were skeptical about my energy levels,” she laughs. Emerging as the best lady athlete in her batch then, was a befitting answer.

After finishing her training at Moradabad, when she asked to be posted in the same district, there were the familiar voices of caution. “I was warned: it’s a sensitive area, bahut mushkil hogi.”

That apart, being a woman, she says, acts like a double-edged sword. Much like in armed forces, women in the police are also often saddled with “soft tasks”. “I have been lucky though, to have encouraging seniors. For the kidney operation, I was out all night conducting raids. It’s a 24X7 job; just last night I was out till 3.30 am patrolling,” says the 32-year-old, adding with a giggle, “at times, even my force gets bothered about me in tough situations.”

Amongst the pros she lists, is being able to strike a rapport with the local women victims. “40 per cent of the crimes here are women-related. I am perceived as more honest, and empathetic, so they feel comfortable with me. The men, on the other hand, don’t hang around me with their idle chatter.” After this “successful” operation, Saini has also been receiving a lot of intelligence inputs regarding various criminal rackets. “I have proved myself; three important tasks have already been assigned to me,” she says, brimming with pride.

All this has, of course, taken a toll on her personal life: less time with children and being away from the spouse who runs a business in Noida. “It's so tough, there's hardly any time for oneself. I have had to chop off my lovely curls also,” smiles the officer, before rushing off to follow another tip-off.

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