Sargun Shukla, 26 year old young IPS officer from Punjab, is one tough cop. One look at her and you will know why Director General of Police (DGP) K.Rajindra gave this female IPS officer responsibility of manning a town known for being communally sensitive and once a hotbed of militancy.
She gets to meet her family only once every two or three months. The break is hardly two or three days. Sargun ranked 248th in the prestigious Civil Services Examination (CSE) held by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Having already made up her mind, Sargun took up IPS despite knowing well that she could be posted anywhere in the country and moreso, could be possibility of landing up in some maoist insurgency hit state or terrorism infested Jammu and Kashmir.
Sargun completed her post-graduation in Psychology from Patiala University and later, did PhD in the same subject. Sargun, an IPS officer of the 2012 batch, was first posted as ASP (Under Training) and then, SDPO Nowshera where she served for more than 18 months. She faced several law and order problems in Nowshera but the ‘never say die’ spirit kept her going. “I have no vested interest. I don’t have to cut corners,” is how Sargun responds when asked about being tough and straightforward officer.
Talk to her and you come to know you are talking to someone who believes in encouraging youth to join police service. Born in Patiala, a city famous for its traditional turban, paranda, patiala salwar, jutti and Patiala peg; Sargun believes in being fair and honest. Her family, she says, has been her inspiration. “My father someone I look upto when I am distressed or when I find things not going my way. I look up to my parents and family as a source of divine energy,” Sargun says.
Dressed in uniform, her hair tied back, Sargun says she always wanted a dynamic job. “I got into IPS by accident,” is how she responds when asked about having cleared this prestigious examination. Clearing the exam in the first chance in 2012 was not a big deal as I had streamlined my preparations.
A focused Sargun says ‘You realise you are made of tougher material.” A typical day starts at about 6 a.m. in the morning. I like to read books as I get up. Then, the routine.”
“I am surrounded 99 per cent of the time by men. But I have to admit my subordinates have accepted me well.” But the real challenge for Sargun is in the domain of hardcore policing. “Being a good police officer, to be on call 24 hours, being there for people, is what I want to achieve,” says Sargun.
Sargun believes in the power of the youth. “We are tech savvy; we grew up in the age of the internet. And we need more young people in the services as the youth can bring in a breath of fresh air to the way government departments function. We can change the system if we have the will.” She adds “We should be able to inspire the confidence of the public.” She maintains that more women should come into the police.
“The services have a lot to benefit from women coming in. Even as the job is seen as physically demanding and brutal, it is rewarding. I make sure I encourage young girls to consider joining the profession,” she says. Talking about herself, Sargun says that she loves writing poetry and reads Robert Frost and William Wordsworth. A focused is these days busy with a murder mystery.