End of the road for Ranchi’s women traffic police

April 9th, 2008 - 12:10 pm ICT by admin  

By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, April 9 (IANS) Three years ago they used to control nearly 90 percent of the traffic in Ranchi, but women constables are now being phased out after complaints of gruelling duty hours, increasing number of vehicles and lack of basic facilities like toilets. Over 50 women constables control the traffic in the Jharkhand capital at present. Of them, some 35 are in the age group of 18-20 and joined the department about a month ago.

Women were first deployed for the job here 10 years ago when Jharkhand was still a part of Bihar and there were not enough policemen to man the roads of this city.

But with the traffic volumes increasing after this city became a state capital - there are around 400,000 state-run and private vehicles today - the job of women constables has become much tougher.

While emphasising that women “are efficient and perform their duties with honesty,” Dadan Sharma, superintendent of police (traffic) in Ranchi, told IANS: “In the next one year, most of the women constables will be sent back to the police lines.”

Around 400 male constables are these days receiving traffic control training that is likely to be completed in a year and they will replace the women who are quite happy with the decision.

The women traffic constables say their duty hours are too long - normally from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. They say there is no provision for shift wise duty.

“We have to stand for hours braving the scorching heat, cold wave or rains,” said a woman constable on condition of anonymity.

“We have to leave the house by eight in the morning (for duty). When we return home at night, we are not in a position to work for the family,” she said adding that women constables were in favour of shift duty so that “they could get some time with the family”.

She also said there were no lavatories available for use during duty hours.

Some women constables also privately admitted that at times they were subjected to abuses from men drivers. “We prefer to ignore the abuses by school and college students,” said one constable.

“Sometimes a person who violates the traffic rules goes unpunished,” she said. “Traffic rules are not strictly followed. But we cannot chase the traffic violator,” she added.

There have also been cases of bikers hitting women traffic constables.

Despite the problems, many of them enjoy the “not-so-easy job”. Meera Munda has been managing traffic for the last five years. “I enjoy my work. With the passage of time the number of vehicles has multiplied. Everyone wants to reach their destination at the earliest and that prompts many to break traffic rules. It is my duty to enforce the rules strictly.”

Echoing her view, Emlem Bara who joined the department a month ago said, “It is not an easy task to control the traffic of Ranchi. The roads are narrow and the number of vehicles are multiplying every month.”

“Sometimes I feel proud and at times feel embarrassed. People obey my signal. When my family members pass through the roads where I am in charge, I get a mixed feeling,” Bara said.

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