Prepare as they might, the Haryana police in Panchkula still had to deal with an unprecedented, violent situation that unfolded last Friday. Panchkula streets were overturned by supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who was convicted for rape. Singh’s supporters from his sect, Dera Sacha Sauda, burnt shops, OB vans, gurudwaras and physically attacked people on the street, police officers and constables in agitation. Yesterday, section 144 has been imposed in nine districts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and in Delhi. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 effectively bans an assembly of more than four people in an area. An additional 20,000 policemen have been deployed in Noida and 11 other districts of Haryana.
But as tension unfolded on Friday, the tough-cop image of the Haryana police also took a beating. Amid all the confusion and chaos, the Panchkula Deputy Commissioner, IAS Officer Gauri Parashar Joshi, advanced on the rioting crowd to take control of the situation. According to a report, she tried to calm down agitators even while countless police officers let the rioters have a free reign.
The report further suggested that Parashar Joshi herself sustained injuries and portions of her clothes got torn. She returned home at 3 a.m only to return to duty in a few hours. It was because of her that the army could intervene because she issued the order to hand the situation over to them. She made this decision after being cornered by the Dera with only one Protective Service Officer (PSO) by her side. Still, she stood her ground and tried to calm down the advancing crowd.
Parashar Joshi is an 2009-batch IAS officer and has been serving as District Commissioner of Panchkula for the past year. This isn’t the first time, Parashaar Joshi has displayed grit. She garnered a lot of praise while posted on duty in Orissa for helping local women fight poverty-induced tensions and managing flood situations. She was posted in a highly Naxal-affected area in Orissa before her posting in Panchkula. She is a journalism graduate, who decided to serve as a police officer after graduation. Forget the Priyanka Chopra tough-copness in Phir Gangajal, it is the likes of Parashar Joshi, Shreshtha Thakur (who gave bullying BJP supporters a piece of her lawful mind) and DIG Roopa (who, after exposing Sasikala’s antics in prison, exposed her ex-boss’ involvement in the case) that we want to celebrate as our heroines.