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Police boost for girl power
- Cops enter classrooms with tips to deal with danger, real and virtual

How to tackle a Road Romeo? First, protest. Then, head straight for the nearest police officer and seek help.

This is the message from Calcutta police officers to young girls in classroom lessons with a difference. Call it community policing or image makeover, Calcutta police is trying hard to “connect” with tomorrow’s citizens.

Over the past few weeks, officers — from the community police wing, women’s grievance cell and cyber crime section — have touched lives in at least seven schools. Everywhere — from Bethune School to Victoria Institution, Cossipore Girl’s School to Apeejay School — the thrust is on spreading awareness about the law and equipping teenaged girls to tackle a crisis.

On Tuesday afternoon, the last session was at Loreto, Entally. “It was my first interaction with police officers... It was nice to know that they are just like us. From now on I will not hesitate before approaching a policeman for help,” said Maryann John, a Class XII student.

The session, in the gymnasium hall, started with an audio-visual presentation about the history of the force. Then, officers took turns to explain various aspects of policing and how cops are committed to ensuring their safety. The floor was finally thrown open for questions.

“We discussed things like what they should do if someone tries to act smart inside a crowded bus or on a deserted road,” said Zulfikar Hasan, a joint commissioner of police. From tackling errant taxi drivers to avoiding harassment on the Net, the main objective of the programme is to empower girls to tackle dangers in both the real and the virtual world.

Some schools are sceptical about the continuity of the project. “It starts with much fanfare, but then fizzles out,” said a teacher in a north Calcutta school.

“After these sessions we would like to invite students to visit police stations. And if they are keen, we can train them in unarmed combat,” countered a police officer, adding that more schools will be added to the list of girl-power sessions next year.

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