She defied family to don the uniform
29 March 2001
The Indian Express
GAURAV C. SAWANT
RAJAURI: When Shaheeda Parveen signed up for the Jammu and Kashmir Police, she ran smack into her very first hurdle: her family. "They put out a public advertisement in newspapers saying they had nothing to do with me," says the 30-year-old inspector and member of the elite Special Operations Group (SOG), the Jammu and Kashmir police's commando wing. Parveen is the only woman commando in Rajauri and among three senior level women police inspectors in the SOG. She signed up just six years ago, but already, there's talk of her having killed 15 terrorists. It's a story that Parveen dismisses, but it fits in with her tough-as-nails look: khaki dungarees, sneakers and camouflage commando cap. The only detail missing is the police jungle boots: they don"t fit her. Parveen's father passed away; her mother lives with her brothers, one of whom is with the Army. At some point, Parveen even lined up for a school teacher's job. "When we went for the interviews, all applicants were praying that they got the job. I prayed that I shouldn"t! I am glad Allah listened to me," she laughs. Since Parveen grew up in Rajauri and understands the local language, it helps her in her job considerably. She works jointly with army commandoes and regular infantry platoons. "The army jawans give me a lot of respect, and their dedication is worth emulating. They are doing a great service in working in these inhospitable conditions," she says. For the past three years, Parveen has been posted in Rajauri and has participated in several anti-terrorist operations. There are days when she, her 23-year-old bodyguard Rakesh Sharma and his team have been out on operations for two-three days at a stretch. "But there is no problem. I have never felt alone or inferior to my male colleagues," she says. No surprises here: she derives inspiration from that other tough woman cop, Kiran Bedi. 'she is India's first woman police officer. I read about her in newspapers and magazines. I really want to meet her and tell her that she's a great influence. I wonder if I will ever get the chance," she says. Does she have any suitors? "I don"t know," smiles Parveen. "I am married to my AK-47." "Parveen is very brave and has contributed to a number of operations in the past two-and-a-half years," says Gurbachan Jagat, Director General, BSF who was then the Director General of J&K Police. "Rajni Sharma at Kupwara and another young lady inspector at Badgam were the bravest and most active," he says. Sharma, in fact, earned an out of turn promotion when she extracted her team out of an ambush at Kupwara.