She is watching you

Published Oct 28, 2014, 5:09 am IST
Updated Jan 13, 2016, 3:53 pm IST
Swati Lakra is a tough cop leading the state’s initiative to combat eve-teasing
Hyderabad: Swati Lakra, additional commissioner of police (crimes and SIT), will supervise the Telangana government’s latest initiative to tackle eve teasing in Hyderabad, the SHE police.
Hundred teams of police personnel, including women officers and constables, will be deployed in “hotspots”, areas where eve-teasing is rampant. 
Swati says, “This issue (of women’s harassment) has to be tackled with an iron hand. People don’t realise that eve-teasing affects a woman psychologically. It affects her freedom. Why should she even worry about travelling by a bus?”
Whenever such a case comes her way, Swati is left disturbed, somewhat agitated. She is a mother of two girls, Pratiti and Stuti who study in Class III and Class X. Her kids are leading a protected life at the moment, she admits, much like Swati did while growing up in her hometown, Ranchi, around her parents, an elder brother and sister.
“Being the youngest, I was pampered a lot. I was timid. Nothing like what I am today. But I definitely want my girls to become confident and independent. They will face the world when they step out for college,” says Swati, whose husband B.M.D. Ekka, is a 1995 batch IAS officer, and the commissioner of the Housing Board here.
Swati even wants more women to join the police and, in her capacity as the member of Committee on Safety and Security of Women in Telangana that recommended the “She” police force, she is urging the government to have 33.3 per cent of reservation for women across all ranks of police force.
So, how did the “timid girl, who one day wanted to be a fashion designer, the other day a tennis star or sometimes a doctor” become a tough cop? “Frankly, I never thought I would be a cop. It was accidental. I was studying political science in Delhi University and would see many girls preparing for civil services. So, I gave it a shot and got through.”
Swati had her first posting in undivided Bihar. And, after a year, she moved to Andhra Pradesh with her husband. At this point, Swati tells us that there’s a lot more that a cop does than his or her designated duty, like “passing the Telugu test”. “My first posting in Andhra was in Narsipatnam, where people only speak Telugu. So I hired a Telugu language tutor, but honestly, he was of no use. Then I bought a small Telugu book and started practising it with colleagues around me. Today, I can even read it.”
She is also constantly studying initiatives of good governance across the country. A few months ago, she went to Gujarat to study the success of “181” counselling helpline for women, then Mumbai and of course, around the city, meeting NGOs and college students to understand how the city can be made safer for women.