Give 'Charlies' enough time to train

On Saturday, this paper had a front page report about how an all-women’s patrol squad is not able to discharge its duties because of the various problems and a weak base.

The 200-plus squad of women marshals, called Charlies, which started on August 20 and is meant to patrol the city and look after security, had an unimpressive start and has run into a lot of trouble since then.

Most of all, though, one is shocked that this squad was put on the road after just three months of training, which is so short even negligible one can say. Three months is absolutely nothing compared to the duties that they had to discharge, ensure security, especially that of women. They were put on the road at a challenging time festival season when authorities have to be at an all-time alert because of the crowds at public places.

In the report, the women stated that they were not confident enough to ride bicycles, were suddenly trained to ride motorcycles and that, too, in three months. They admitted that they would not be able to handle bikes in Mumbai’s challenging conditions, making chasing thieves almost impossible.

When one wants to put a patrol squad on the roads, one has to build an immensely strong base. The training has to be intense, focussed and most importantly, last at least a year so that women feel confident enough to do the job they are there for. One must pull this patrol off the road and give them extensive training, counselling and then see that they are put on the road once again.

Any true practitioner of martial arts will tell you that a three-month martial arts training is laughable. All they would have learnt is some fancy footwork.

Let there be a review of this squad. It can be temporarily disbanded till it is well and truly ready to be on the road. After all, this is not a movie; this is real life where this squad can face thieves and potential killers, too. Give them slick bikes, technology and most importantly, the training to deal with that.

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