While the crime in nation was rising exponentially, only a few dared to stand against it risking their lives. Courage, honesty, and integrity empowers one to take on the dark forces and emerge as a winner. One such name is Meera Borwankar, the first woman to become Commissioner of Mumbai’s Crime Branch Department in its history of 150 years.
To be a part of the women lineage serving the force, which comprises merely one or two percent of the total force, is a milestone in itself, but to lead the investigate force of 300 officers is a different story altogether. Meera made this story come true. Today, she is working as a Special Inspector General of Police, CID State Crime Branch, stationed at Pune, and heading major officers of the police force.
Born and brought up in Fazilka, Punjab, Meera was the daughter of a Border Security Force officer. She was a diligent student who gave priority to her education since the beginning. She completed her MA in literature and was the head girl of her college. She was a voracious reader and wanted to study further.
She went on to study Policy Analysis in Law enforcement at the University of Minnesota, USA although, she didn’t plan for it. Her diverse education gave her knowledge of various cultures and law enforcement. She had a streak of excelling both in studies and extra-curricular activities. Meera participated in plays, drama, debate, etc and had an equivalent interest in sports and was also a part of Punjab cricket team.
Her ambitions had always been naïve. She never saw marriage and raising her kids would put an end to her duties towards the society and thus she made it clear to everyone that she will continue her profession post marriage. Her inspiration came from Kiran Bedi, who during her college days joined IPS and became a sensation in the society owing to her revolutionary measures. It was then, when a teacher of Meera called her and suggested that she had the potential of becoming an IPS officer. The guidance came from the same teacher that illuminated her path towards various endeavors then on.
Her preparation started for the exams and she qualified UPSC examination in her first attempt. She opted for Indian Accounts and Audit Service contrary to her plan because her parents suggested it was unsafe for a woman to join Police Services. She found the training to be boring and opted out. She appeared again for the exams and opted for IPS.
In the training she was the only woman officer. It was really tough on her, there were no concession based on gender. When she was physically and emotionally exhausted there was no one she could turn to. The men of her batch gathered together and had drinks and she would feel all alone. During her various postings there was no hostility towards her but the men found it really awkward working under a lady officer.
In Mumbai, she sent a lot of group members of Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Rajan behind bars. One of the major cases she headed was Jalgaon sex scandal. During this time she was pregnant with her second child. In this case, women were exploited in schools and colleges. They were tranquilized and raped by politicians, businessmen, professionals and criminals. They were filmed and blackmailed if they tried to raise an alarm. Girls were scouted by men who followed them in parlors, school, colleges, coachings, etc.
This business went unchecked in Jalgaon for a decade. Girls from age five to 12 were involved and the number of victims had crossed 300 females. The guilty could not be set on trial because of late reporting of the crime. This was because the women were not ready to file a complaint against the guilty dreading the consequences. They confided in Meera but it was not legal to take a step unless they filed an FIR. However, Meera boldly took a step to find the accused involved but the court upon presentation, acquitted the guilty on grounds of no proper evidence.
Similar was a case in Satara where robbery was at its peak. Meera smartly handled the case thus leading to a steep fall in the number of robberies by charging policemen at every stop for checking. Apart from these cases she has exquisitely handled many other cases thus proving her worth in the police department as an honest and meritorious officer.
She was awarded President’s medal for meritorious service in 1997. She also won accolades with the Police Medal and Director General’s token for her honest and meritorious service and Hubert Humphrey Fellowship (2001 – 2002).
She has also been honoured by a film on her biography, ‘Mardaani’ played by Rani Mukherjee as Meera.
In 1981, she became an officer in Maharashtra Cadre, served as Deputy Commissioner of Police from 1987-1991. She also held independent charges of Aurangabad as District Superintendent of Police and took charge of Satara in 1996-1999. She was posted at State CID crime branch in 1993-1995. Meera also served the economic offenses Wing of Central Bureau of Investigation in Mumbai and was DIG of anti-corruption in New Delhi.
She proves that gender is irrelevant if you have conviction in your heart. You can tread miles irrespective of your location or job. There is a huge scope of improvement in the nation and men and women should join hands and come together to make the country a better and safer place to work in.