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Meet Delhi Policewoman Who Rescued More Than 100 Girls From Brothel

© Sputnik / Deexa KhanduriSurinder Jeet Kaur
Surinder Jeet Kaur - Sputnik India, 1920, 26.04.2023
On a usual day, unlike other retired officers, Surinder Jeet Kaur is busy attending to a plethora of phone calls. These include being a guest of honor at some gathering, or delivering a motivational speech.
Her massive appeal and the fact that Surinder Jeet Kaur is an inspiration to hundreds of youngsters is a result of her having rescued more than 100 girls from a Delhi brothel during her service as a policewoman.
Kaur is known these days as 'Dabang' [fearless] because of her audacious attitude among her colleagues. She earned her fame from rescuing minors from Delhi's red light district. She has also trained more than 35,000 girls in self-defense.
The officer, who retired in February, spoke with Sputnik in an exclusive interview to explain how, over 38 years in the Delhi Police, she went from Rookie to Hero.

Inspiration to Be a Police Officer

Kaur comes from a Sikh family and she explained that in the Eighties, young girls were not allowed to move around - especially in traditional families.
"We were four sisters. Our mother used to drop us and pick us up from school. We were never allowed to go out alone. My elder sister got married at the age of 16. After finishing school, I was not allowed to attend college. I protested for further education, and I was finally allowed to enroll in an open college where I didn't have to attend college on a regular basis. After that, I applied for a job with Delhi Police without telling my father. Even when I was selected he didn't allow me to take up the job. But I fought against all odds," she shared.
"My parents were out of town, I quietly went and joined the Delhi Police training," she said smilingly.
Asked why she chose to work with the police when she could easily have got a permanent government job in a bank or teacher's job, she said: "I was really inspired by Kiran Bedi [India's first policewoman who joined the Indian Police Service in 1972]. I always felt that police have some kind of power which general people don't. Everyone starts behaving nicely around the officers."
However, there was one incident that persuaded Kaur more than any other that policing was the life for her.
"Around 1983, when I was 17 or 18 and travelling in Delhi with my friend, a Delhi police constable seized us and asked us to wait in the police station for four of five hours because two girls of our age had fled their home and he thought we might be those girls. We were so terrified that we did not disclose our real name. We were frightened that if our parents would come to know about this, they would have us (literally) house-arrested. That was the day when I was sure I wanted to be as powerful as this officer."
She was selected as a sub-inspector in 1985, which was also the first year when girls and boys were trained together.
Kaur said that she was very much aware that even after joining the police, she had to prove her mettle in dominating male society.

"Some boys commented that girls join the police force, take a salary and mostly do household chores or light tasks, and they complain about their period when asked to do anything physical. That comment hurt me so much that I decided to prove that I deserved my job."

Later, she topped her batch, bagged her first award as Best Cadet, and later became the first woman appointed as chowky in charge [Sub-inspector].

Work And Brothel

Before being deputed as Station House Officer [SHO, in charge of a police station] of Kamla Market Police Station between 2009 to 2011, Kaur was praised by her seniors for solving many murder and ransom cases. The Kamala Market police station covers Garstin Bastion Road or GB Road, which is the red light district of Delhi.
"When I joined the station, I was told that information from the police was often leaked. Hence, during raids, owners used to hide underage girls. I started conducting raids on my own and then would call my team when I was spot on. I used to take private taxis, etc.
"I always get emotional when I see the condition of the girls we rescue. These girls were harassed not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. The owners and their customers abused them. In some cases, victims were forced to service up to 10 to 15 customers daily," the 60-year-old Kaur shared.
"Most of these girls are from small towns, even Nepal… they were scared and living in miserable conditions… and ill-treated to the extent that they did not even remember the name of their parents or their address," Kaur said.
Kaur said in many cases, they tried to repatriate the minors with their families. In some cases, when the victim didn't want to return to their parents, she helped them get married or find an appropriate job.

She said that her major challenge was making these victims believe in the police system: "Most of the victims were misguided about the role of the police in Delhi. The brothel owners have terrified them to the extent that at the end of the day, they have to return to the brothel only as a society won't accept them or the police will torture them."

In 2012, she was awarded the President's Police Medal for Meritorious Service on Independence Day for her contribution to rescuing and rehabilitating underage girls.
Kaur also shared that she often received death threats and bribes indirectly but brushes them off:
"Death will come only once in life and will happen as planned. Hence, live life without fear."
The retired officer said that she often is given idols of the gods and other spiritual gifts from the victims or their families, which always warms her heart. Kaur has placed all these scriptures or idols in a room in her house in Delhi and she meditates there.
"Once a Nepali sent me a god idol. I felt so proud and nice about it," she shared.
After 2011, Kaur was also transferred to the Special Police Unit for Women and Children (SPUWAC), "I devoted my work to the service of women who were downtrodden, facing dowry harassment or domestic violence…We provided self defence to 35,000 girls."

Toughest Time of Life

When COVID hit in early 2020, Kaur was assigned to take charge of the COVID-19 cell of the South-east district. Her husband, however, succumbed to the virus and died, aged 55.
"My husband was on a ventilator for 26 days before he died… I had lost everything. That was the toughest time of my life," said Kaur.
According to tradition, Kaur's son (who lives in Canada) was supposed to perform his father's last rites. But as his son could come to India because of COVID restrictions, she performed the last rites by herself.
During her service, Kaur was awarded all sorts of awards, including the Delhi Women Commission Award, Police Station First Award, Mata Jijabai Award, Khalsa College Award, Rescue Foundation Award and Shakti Vahini Award. Her fame has also spread worldwide and she received the 'You Can Free' award from the USA.