New Delhi: In June 2019, CRPF personnel in Bihar found themselves undertaking a training session whose objective wasn’t at once clear to them. The workshop sought to send a message about gender sensitisation, and was offered as part of a larger mental wellness initiative aimed at tackling stress among CRPF personnel.
The idea behind the workshop was to help the personnel look past gender stereotypes, and facilitate a more meaningful conversation between them and their families, especially their wives, so they don’t feel like they have to bear the burden of their responsibilities alone.
The workshop was the brainchild of CRPF Inspector General Charu Sinha, a 24-year veteran of the IPS who believes in not just shattering gender barriers but also demolishing the underlying stereotypes.
On Tuesday, Sinha became the first woman to be appointed the CRPF Inspector General (IG) for the Srinagar sector, a sensitive posting by virtue of the local militancy, adding yet another feather to her cap. The post was first carved out in 2005.
Right before landing this role, she served as IG for the Jammu sector, and in Bihar, where she handled anti-Naxal operations.
Carving her niche in a male-dominated field wasn’t an easy journey for Sinha, who talked about her struggles in a 2017 interview to Deccan Chronicle.
“When I joined the force, it was difficult in the male-dominated field. Media always wanted to know where I go, whom I meet and so on. It was almost as if I didn’t have a personal life,” she was quoted as saying. “But things gradually changed.”
Beyond law & order
An IPS officer of the Telangana cadre, Sinha joined the service in 1996. According to her biodata, provided by the CRPF, she is a graduate in English literature, History and Political Science from St Francis College for Women in Hyderabad, and completed her postgraduation in Political Science from Hyderabad Central University (University of Hyderabad).
In 1989, a gift from a friend of her father — The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda — awakened in her a spiritual quest, as Sinha told Radio Sai, the official portal of the late guru Sathya Sai Baba.
For much of her career, she served in sister states Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (formed from Andhra in 2014), where she handled challenges such as factional feuds, apart from Naxalism and communalism.
She has served many districts as superintendent of police (SP), from Prakasam, Nizamabad and Chittoor to Mahabubnagar and East Godavari.
For Sinha, the highs of her career include her stint as superintendent of police (SP) in Chittoor, where she helped restore property rights of HIV-affected women and children who had ben thrown out of their homes.
Between 2005 and 2006, she was in Kosovo — the partially recognised European state — as part of a United Nations Mission deployed in there amid conflict between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs that eventually resulted in Kosovo declaring independence.
From 2010-2013, she served as Deputy Inspector General of Police in the Anantapur range, followed by a year’s stint each as secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission and Inspector General CID.
Between 2015 and 2017, she served as director of Telangana’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, before being appointed as IG for training in Telangana. In this role, she trained 12,000 constables across 28 police training academies.
She was deputed with the CRPF as IG in 2018.
Colleagues describe Sinha as being dedicated and sincere, with a “strong bent towards working for the welfare of the forces’ personnel”.
During her stint in Bihar, one CRPF officer said, Sinha took a number of initiatives for the welfare of personnel. The CRPF expects her to take similar welfare measures in Kashmir, the officer added.
According to a second senior CRPF officer, Sinha distinguished herself with her tenure in Jammu, where she “dealt with the law-and-order situations and insurgency in an effective manner”.
“She played a very crucial role in the January encounter along the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Nagrota area, in which three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were killed and three local residents arrested,” said the second officer. “The three militants had infiltrated into J&K and were planning to carry fidayeen attacks in the Valley. The officer (Charu) played a crucial role in the interception and the subsequent encounter of the fidayeen attackers.”
Another senior CRPF officer said Sinha’s appointment as the first woman IG in Srinagar signifies “women officers taking a lead in one of the major law-and-order challenges faced by the country”.
Inputs from Azaan Javaid
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