In training and on the lookout for men harassing women

FPNisha Murmu, DSP, in office in Ranchi
She has striven to keep the Ranchi police a step ahead of crime, even if that has meant putting on jogging gear and waiting until first light.

Four young men, who had just pulled an all-night drinking session, drove into the Morabadi maidan area of Ranchi at 6 am on Friday, at that time full of joggers and morning walkers. From inside their Alto car, they taunted, "Do you want a lift?"

To their shock, a girl next to the woman they were harassing signalled, and two groups of plainclothes police officials converged on them.

Nisha Murmu, a deputy superintendent of police who is still in training, has set out to curb harassment of the city's joggers. The youths, aged 18-21, were picked up and later let off after their guardians signed personal bonds at the Lalpur police station.

Murmu is possibly the first woman DSP directly recruited after Jharkhand was formed in 2000. "Even if she's not the first, hers is the first batch to have a woman DSP," says an officer with the police's personnel department.

She is part of an "anti-eve teasing squad" formed by seniorsuperintendent of police Saket Kumar Singh. "We have two Shakti vehicles to act on complaints received, but this squad is an informal effort to check eve-teasing. We post plainclothes officials at key spots," says the SSP.

DSP Murmu has been part of such operations earlier, too: "There was once a case where a boy was constantly calling up a girl on her mobile," she says. "I asked a woman constable to talk to him. She invited him to a restaurant in the Lalpur area." Her excitement shows as she describes the harasser's capture. "Our team occupied four tables, around the constable and the youngster, then moved in on him," she says. The bonus was that there was an arrest warrant pending against him for theft, which helped the police put him away.

The softspoken officer is thrifty with detail. "You should not ask a woman's age," she says, then smiles, "I am 23-24 years old." She was in physical training at the Police Training College, Hazaribagh, for a year. Posted in Ranchi since January this year, she is getting to grips with the administrative part of the job. The eight-month module is due to end in August, after which she will be handed her first posting.

She was recruited on October 10, 2011. Her father, Salkhan Murmu, retired from the state's agriculture department at the end of the same month. "He was so happy to see me in active service before he retired," says Nisha, who hails from Sahebganj district and studied in Ranchi, at DAV Public School in Hehal and St Xavier's College.

She says she too had faced "eve teasing" while at college. "I used to object to it then, too. Now, we cannot afford to arrest all harassers that would mean sending a large number of young men to jail. We often call their guardians to the station, get a bond signed saying they will not repeat it, then let them go," she says.

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