Vizag Features

November 2005
17th November, 2005

Ever stopped to wonder what kind of a life Vizag offers those who keep the wheels of Vizag turning? Those people you have only cursory interactions with but whose duties are essential to functioning of this city - Your postman? That traffic constable you barely notice? The auto-rickshaw driver you pay off in a hurry? decided to attempt an answer to that question by spending a working day with them as they went about their jobs. We begin this series with Ms. M. Lakshimikantham, a police constable with the Vizag Police force who has been in the field for 13 years.

Woman constable Ms. M. Lakshimikantham

Her job is to deal with any complaint dealing with women, performing body checks of women whenever necessary, remaining with a woman in police custody on surveillance and sometimes escorting female criminals to court, among other things.

Mrs. Lakshmikantham is on morning duty and has to reach the police station by 7.00 a.m. Like every other day, she reports to her Sub-Inspector on reaching her work place. She starts her work, which is to attend phone calls and take messages from the VHF (Very High Frequency) set, usually coming in from the Control Room. By 9.00 a.m. her colleagues leave on their daily beats and she is in-charge of the station. Between taking calls and carrying the message to whomever concerned, she talks to about her job. "We get all sorts of complaints ranging from domestic disagreements to traffic violations. My job mainly is to deal with women who might be involved in these complaints. For instance, if there is a quarrel among women near the public tap, I would go and talk to both parties. This is a part of the normal enquiry procedure," explains Mrs. Lakshmikantham.

Meanwhile, a couple of men walk into the station and report the loss of a gold ring. The man to whom the ring belongs seems quite agitated. Mrs. Lakshmikantham asks him to relate the incident slowly to her, takes down his name, address and the location where he lost the ring. She then contacts another constable using the VHF set and sends him to enquire about the missing ring. "This is also a routine job. We get a lot of these complaints. The man did not check his bag before leaving the jewellery shop. The jeweller could be the culprit or the man must genuinely have been careless and lost it on the way. It is our job to enquire into that. We have to be extra careful to make up for their carelessness," she says smiling. Elaborating what her job involves, Mrs. Lakshmikantham said that sometimes during important occasions, constables need to guard the premises of a function and perform body checks. Recently, during the Chief Minister Mr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy's visit to the city, she was posted near Maddilapalem to ensure the arriving convoy's smooth journey. She was supposed to put down any disturbances that might have been caused by females, like dharnas. "The next day, when the Chief Minister was at a press meet, we checked all the females attending the meet. It's another of our routine jobs. Even when we escort criminals to the court or to the Central jail, we have to do the same," she adds.

Later, after attending a call, she is on her way to a nearby gift articles showroom. Apparently, two women were caught shoplifting and she was required to check them. After noting down a few details about them, she meticulously goes through their bags and then checks their bodies for the missing article. Finding the piece of fancy jewellery between the foot and the slipper of one of them, she hands the article to owners of the shop and escorts the women to another police station. After finishing with the formalities, she says "That shop is not in our jurisdiction. So, I brought them to the concerned police station. If it had happened in our area, I would be sitting with them till the entire process of enquiry and the court hearing was completed. Of course, I would have relievers every 24 hours, but that's not saying much, is it? I guess I must be thankful," she adds with a wink.

Despite her jovial attitude, she takes her job seriously. "It is a tough job with heavy responsibilities. We don't really get aggressive and force people to the police station unlike what is depicted in the movies. As a part of enquiries, we talk to people and summon them if they are required at the station. Never did I have to drag someone down to the station in my 13 years of service. Some people are stubborn and want to evade coming to the station but they see reason when we persuade them. The notion that the job is risky and violent is a myth. It is a relatively 'safe' job except for some odd hours and occasional travel to remote places. However, it is very demanding," says Mrs. Lakshmikantham as she finishes her shift.

The one thing that really stands out is Mrs. Lakshmikantham's pride in her job. Her genuine willingness to help people plays a major role in her daily duties, not to mention her strength to stand up to menace-makers.

The next time you pass a police constable on the road, the least you can do is smile in appreciation.