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First lady to man Mumbai post

Mumbai, April 20: The voice on the phone is sweet and polite, but make no mistake about the twang of authority and achievement that comes with being the first-ever lady in charge of a Mumbai police station.

Anita Chavan, who has just notched up a watershed for herself and a milestone for women’s empowerment, says she keeps for the night worries about her daughters’ performance in college. Chavan, 46, a mother of three and station-in-charge of the busy Santa Cruz police station, keeps the day for goons, cheats and the mafia.

Two others who recorded firsts for women in Mumbai police were Pancham Bala, the first woman constable in 1942, and Shanti Parwani, the first woman sub-inspector in 1947.

But being a woman and the first ever to hold the post of a station-in-charge, that too in a city like Mumbai, is not easy.

Chavan knows that she not only has to set standards for future women police officers, but also has to deal with the “men’s club” within the confines of the police station.

What complicates her case further is the fact that things at the station level — unlike for officers in the IPS — can get real nasty and, sometimes, even messy. Often one has to deal with the offenders directly at a one-to-one level. She knows that being a woman only compounds matters.

“I’ll have to be extra careful, extra hard working, extra vigilant, extra everything,” Chavan says. She is aware that her responsibility is now enormous.

A police officer of the 1978 batch, Chavan, who is now senior inspector at Santa Cruz, says she will have to rely more than ever on her mother-in-law to handle matters domestic. She knows what to do at the police station, though.

She says she will first go through in detail the crime scene at Santa Cruz and then devise her own way of tackling it. “I know what this means and I am proud that such a position has come my way,” she says.

Not that she is new to pressure situations. Before she got on to her latest posting — replacing Vilas Tupe, who is now assistant commissioner at the anti-corruption bureau — Chavan was in charge of the Special Branch 1 control room.

After joining the police force 25 years ago, Chavan has had some difficult stints, including some years in airport security. She even worked as an instructor at the Nashik police training centre.

Rattling off a few murder and rape cases that she solved during her tenure at Borivli police station, Chavan says detection and investigation of even intricate cases are not new to her. “I have been a police officer for a long time now,” she says. “I have risen by grit and know how things work around here.”

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