Meeran Chadha Borwankar And Her Leaves Of Life

Meeran Borwankar-book

Meeran Chadha Borwankar with her 36 years of distinguished police service has several learnings and anecdotes to share with today’s youth.

Her book, Leaves of Life, chronicles her journey from Punjab to becoming an IPS officer in 1981 and entering the police force. She has broken the glass ceiling several times over and has held several crucial posts including like the first woman Commissioner of Police, Pune, and has also worked for the CBI. She was also the first woman to head the crime branch in Mumbai.

Borwankar recently retired as Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development. Throughout her career, she has faced daunting challenges as the key investigator of the Jalgaon sex scandal (1993 to 1995), which involved three local corporators exploiting around 100 girls. She was also the chief of the Maharashtra Prisons Department and oversaw the execution of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon in 2012 and 2015 respectively.

Earlier this week, Borwankar was in the city to speak about her book at an event held at Gyaan Adab, Kalyani Nagar. Pune365 met the accomplished police officer and author for an insight into her inspiring life and career.

In an interview you gave on the Jalgaon sex scandal, you mentioned that, by the time the girls involved filed FIRs, it was a little too late. Does this reflect on how cumbersome the law and procedures are?

No, in this case and in most cases of rape and molestation, it’s not the FIR or the criminal procedure of investigation. It’s actually the complainant, the victims or the girls being very apprehensive and scared of coming forward and registering the complaints and therefore the delay. More than lack of faith in the police, it is their belief they will be laughed at if they were to air their grievances. They feel, they will lose the respect of their families and friends. In most cases, victims start blaming themselves. Also, the Indian family system is very traditional; Even if they want to come and register a complaint, their families will not encourage it.

You received the Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship, after which you interned with the Interpol in 2001. Tell us about your experience with the Interpol during this time. 

I interned with them in Washington DC. They are very well-equipped. They have a liaison network all over the world. But, I felt that even Interpol gets into procedural complexities and therefore, if they want relevant information, they get it late due to national laws or international procedures. Interpol is the best that we have. It is accepted and recognised by all countries. For an internship, it is an excellent organisation. And, they welcome interns especially international ones.

What do you have to say about the human rights of Indian prisoners?

I feel that prisons are watched very closely by media. In India, all prisons give family access to the prisoners. The atmosphere in the country is so pro-human rights that I would say that their human rights per se are respected. But if you consider the right to have a hygienic atmosphere in the prisons, it is often lacking. Take the case of the Arthur Road Jail which is very overcrowded.  We are not able to give them a very hygienic environment.

What would you say about the relation between the press and the police? Are they able to work together?

In fact, it is better that they don’t start coordinating too much because the media must keep a watch on the police. The police should also not go out of their way to entertain the media either. They are two parallel organisations and I think it is better that way.

Vijayta Lalwani

Vijayta Lalwani

The young lady from Lagos has always been keen on a career in journalism. Pune365 was hence the right stop. We agree.
Vijayta Lalwani