Imagine being taught karate, how to use a pistol, ride a bike, and understand public relations and law concepts all in a three-month span. The city’s first women beat marshals reportedly underwent this gruelling training session, which showed immediately after they were flagged off yesterday, when one of them rammed her bike into a divider near Marine Lines.
The marshals line up and are flagged off by actor Rani Mukherji and Home Minister R R Patil. Pics/Sameer Markande
Nearly 205 beat marshals were inducted into the police force at a function attended by Home Minister R R Patil and Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria yesterday. One of the marshals, Poonam Mohite, spoke at the function and, soon after it was over, lost control of her bike near Meghdoot flyover close to Marine Lines and rammed it into a divider. Mohite and the pillion rider were injured and the damaged bike had to be taken away in a tempo.
“They say they have given training in riding a bike, karate, use of small arms, public relations and law to the women in three months. How can anyone learn all that in such a short span? Having women beat marshals is a good idea, but it should not be one of those things that go away when a new commissioner comes in. Every new commissioner comes and brings in new ideas, which are discontinued by his successor,” said a senior officer.
Speaking at the function, Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said, “These women will be on the roads and attend to all the problems faced by women, children and senior citizens. They are trained in karate, have pistols and know how to use them. They also know how to operate walkie-talkies and are also able to drive bikes.”
“We have inducted these new female marshals and are hopeful that they will be of great help to society. We will support them and plan to recruit around 20,000 women in the Maharashtra police force in the next four years,” said Home Minister R R Patil. Earlier, the Mumbai police only had men as beat marshals, whose job is to attend calls made to 100.
“Though this is a good start, the problem is that the women have not been given proper equipment. They have been given heavy bikes. Ideally, they should be given scooterettes, which are more female-friendly,” said a senior police officer, who did not wish to be quoted.
The women, however, are undaunted. “We are happy to be part of the beat marshal squad and have got good training in the last three months. We are hopeful we will be able to do good work,” said Ashwini Shende, a female beat marshal, who was attached to the local arms unit and will now be transferred to a police station. A police officer said, “The three-month training given to these beat marshals was in addition to the six months of training that constables have to go through. They have been given the best-possible training.”
The women marshals have been inducted to ensure the safety of women, children and senior citizens following the increase in crimes against these groups. They have been given 100 bikes, and two marshals each will be assigned to the Mumbai police’s 93 police stations. The Mumbai police has a strength of around 49,000, in which there are 4,604 women constables and around 400 female police officers.