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“Wearing Courage on her Sleeve”

“Wearing Courage on her Sleeve”
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Sub Inspector of Police Satoshini Barik

The Union Home Minister’s Medals for Excellence in Investigation for the year 2020 have been awarded to 121 police personnel across the country. Of the total count, only four police personnel, including two women are from Odisha.

Former Malkangiri sub inspector Santoshi Barik, who has already been awarded by the Director General of Police (DGP) thrice for her professional investigation resulting in conviction of culprits involved in heinous crimes, is one among the four police officers in the state.

The medal was instituted in 2018. The objective of the medal is to promote high professional standards of investigation of crime and to recognize such Excellence in Investigation by investigating officers.

 In 2014, Santoshini joined as sub-inspector at the Chitrakonda Police Station under Malkangiri district. She worked there as a child women police officer (CWPO) from 2014-2020.

She has been working in Rayagada Police Station since July 2020. Excerpts of an interview with the doughty cop:-

While everyone fears to work in the Maoist infested areas, you have been working there and giving a befitting reply to the criminals. What is your experience over there?  

Malkangiri was once a Maoist hub. I have worked in three police stations over there. First I worked at Chitrakonda in 2014, then Ballimela’s Orchel Police Station in 2016 and later at Malkangiri Station in 2018. I was dealing with cases like child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence and many other cases under POSCO. 

When I was stationed at Chitrakoot, I was very scared from the name of that place. Because it is an interior area, which is mostly Maoist affected, and it is also far from Malkanigiri district headquarter town.

This place shares borders with neighboring states Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which are also affected by left-wing extremism. Initially, I thought that it would be difficult for me to handle matters here.

I remember, during my initial days, no one was coming to register a case. They even hesitated to speak their matters. Then a few days later, when I talked to them and tried to listen to their problem, they gradually started sharing their grief and problems with me.

Maximum cases were related to Maoists there. Since most the villages there are located amidst dense forest, vehicle transfer facilities were not available for them there. And hence, the people were unable to bring the dead body to the police station after the murder.

Whoever brought the dead body to the police station, had to pass through dense forest. Sometimes Maoists do not allow corpses to be brought. On the other hand, we were also not allowed into the forest.

As a result, in many cases, conducting post mortem of the dead body and settle the case was getting delayed. This apart, those areas didn’t have a mobile network. Though there is a BSNL network, it is very irregular there.

Which cases were difficult for you?

Most of the time, we face difficulties to locate the accused. But in the Maoist area, it was not difficult to apprehend the accused; rather it was difficult to convince the victim about the seriousness of the crime because they are not much educated. So instead of going to the police station for a criminal case, they choose to suppress the case inside the family. So, counseling here played a major role in my life.

There was a case in which a brother raped his own sister. And due to some complications, the abortion of the girl could not be conducted. So, she gave birth to a baby. In that case, everyone was sure that the sister would not go against her brother.

But through my counseling, the girl revealed all the truth and gave her statement in the court. Her brother then received 20-year imprisonment with a fine of 50,000. The case was narrated a day before Women’s Day during a meeting, which is a big achievement for me.

How many cases have you resolved between 2014 and 2020?

I have solved more than 1500 cases during this period. Four of them are red flag cases. The punishment and conviction rate is higher in case those were being investigated by me. When I was at Chitrakonda Police Station, more than 50 cases were being registered in a month in the police station.

However, the number of cases at Orkel police station was lesser. Around 12 cases were being registered there in a month. Again the rate of cases in Malkangiri Police Station was high. Here, around 70 cases were being registered in a month.

What are your plans for yourself at Rayagada Police Station?

I will try to reach out to the people and give 100 percent of mine to serve them. My workflow will remain the same. I expect that the case flow will be lower in Rayagada in comparison with Malkangiri.

When I was in Malkangiri, I was not getting enough time to read and prepare myself for higher studies. So, if I get some time here, I will definitely try to prepare myself for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) exam.

Article Written by Subhra Kar

Image Source: InterviewTimes

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