'Madam Sir'- the story of Bihar's first woman IPS officer Manjari Jaruhar, a torchbearer for women and example of resilience and grit

In an interview with the BW PoliceWorld, retired IPS officer Manjari Jaruhar talks about her book ‘Madam Sir’, which is receiving warm responses from readers across all paths of life and inspiring more and more women to take up challenging professions

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Manjari Jaruhar, Retired IPS Officer
Manjari Jaruhar, Retired IPS Officer
The book launch of 'Madam Sir'
The book launch of 'Madam Sir'
Cover of 'Madam Sir'
Cover of 'Madam Sir'

New Delhi, October 19

In what could be termed as the finest example of resilience, hardwork and determination, the story of retired IPS officer Manjari Jaruhar is not an ordinary tale. Manjari Jaruhar is the torch bearer for women who face challenges, discrimination yet are undeterred to achieve the goals in their life.

In the recently launched book, ‘Madam Sir’, Manjari Jaruhar has penned down her journey from a delicate daughter to a tough woman IPS officer who broke barriers in every sphere of her life.

In an interview with the BW PoliceWorld, Manjari Jaruhar talks about her book ‘Madam Sir’, which is receiving warm responses from readers across all paths of life. As the first woman from Bihar to become an IPS officer, Manjari Jaruhar is a torchbearer for women.

1) You have had a long stint in policing in times when women in the police were unheard of. What inspired you to pen down your journey?

It's been 12 years since my retirement from policing, I thought I should write about my life that will inspire women to not give up on their dreams. Many people were telling me to write a memoir but after my family told me, I thought I should finally talk about my eventful career. Being brought up delicately in the Zamindar household, we were protected and had a lot of restrictions. However, for each challenge, I stood undeterred and faced it with courage that changed my life path. After finishing my schooling in a Convent School, I was selected for Lady Irwin College Delhi. I was stopped by my father who had reservations about moving to Delhi. He insisted that I should study in Patna only. I had barely finished college and I was married. When that fell apart in spite of a lot of effort, I changed the course of my life and started preparing for UPSC. In 1976, I cleared the exams and got IPS. No one thought a delicate, shy Manjari could be a tough police officer one day.

2) How was your experience joining the police force as a young woman officer?

As we know all IPS officers are trained at the National Police Academy, I too passed out of NPA freshly trained, full of zest and motivation to make my mark. Those days no one saw a woman in uniform let alone IPS or non IPS. After getting allotted to Bihar cadre, I reported to the IG’s office on the first day, he was clearly not happy to see me. He said, “It will be hard for you to work here, Bihar is unlike Delhi. It will be very difficult”. I was heartbroken and felt humiliated. However, I didn’t stop.

In our times, IPS officers in Bihar used to be promoted to the rank of SP within four years of joining service. As I belonged to the 1976 batch, at the end of 1980, I would be promoted as SP. But without a field posting as ASP, I knew I would find it hard to get a district charge as SP. I would end up pushing files and making reports for a lifetime. After undergoing the rigorous NPA and district training just like my colleagues, I felt cheated. What was it that I lacked, after all? For days that turned into months, I was not given active police work. I was posted in the CID. SK Chatterjee took over as IG, Bihar police who posted me as ASP Danapur without waiting for a government notification. As soon as I was posted as ASP Danapur in January 1980, I knew I would have to quickly prove myself to my seniors, the local thanas as well as the subordinate ranks that I was as capable of doing a field job as any male IPS officer.

Going into the villages in uniform, conducting raids, leading my men from the front and taking charge from Day 1 were all valuable experiences that did much to bolster my confidence, besides building my image as a tough cop.

3) The title of the book is interestingly ‘Madam Sir’. What is the story behind the address Madam Sir?

‘Madam Sir’ is in the context of the times in 1976 when the people in police and outside didn’t see any woman in uniform. They could not believe that a woman can also be a police officer. It was a usual norm to address seniors with respect as ‘Sahib’ or ‘Huzoor’ or ‘Sir’. Out of respect for me they felt that I should be called ‘Sir’ but being a woman they added ‘Madam’. And that is how ‘Madam Sir’ was coined. So, when I began to pen down my journey, I thought this was the most apt title to portray the journey of a woman officer.

4) As you got your first big break as ASP Danapur, how was your experience later in serving Bihar Police and CAPFs?

After my ASP days got over as a young officer, I was appointed as SP Bokaro where I served for three years and I developed a good reputation. Senior IPS officer, Julio Ribeiro selected me for appointment as faculty member in National Police Academy, Hyderabad. I would say my career picked up from there and after that there was no looking back. I trained five batches of IPS officers. This experience enhanced my outlook, widened my horizon and helped me to learn about what was happening in the country. 

After my tenure in NPA, I had to never ask for a posting rather I was selected for key postings. On return from NPA, I served in Bihar Police first in the Intelligence Branch and later as DIG Patna during the tenure of Lalu Prasad Yadav as the Chief Minister. Whether law and order, inquiries or investigations, I got a lot of opportunities to prove my mettle. I then moved to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and was given a posting in Bokaro Steel Plant. Later I was shifted as DIG Administration in CISF Delhi. It was a difficult time as my younger son was still studying in Bokaro and I had to manage being at two places. 

On promotion of IG, I was then posted at Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Mount Abu which was involved in training the officers. For some time I worked with the CRPF in the Northern Range in Delhi and suddenly I was recalled to Jharkhand, when the state was created.

The Jharkhand Government appointed me as the IG of the Jharkhand Armed Police which was facing the onslaught of naxalites in a newly created state.  I organised the force with specialised training. It was also decided to raise a women's battalion on the pattern of CRPF. I made a lot of positive changes in the JAP. Again, I returned to the CISF in 2004 and this time I was associated with the expansion of the force at airports, metro, private sector, etc. I retired from there as Special DG.

I was then selected by TCS as Advisor on Homeland Security. I also worked as Chief Co-Ordinator of the Indian Music Industry and became the Chairperson of the Private Security Industry Committee at FICCI.

5) You are a torch bearer for women in the police. What is your message to the women police officers in the country?

I would say that being a woman is a blessing and being a woman police officer is a blessing in disguise. Many young women officers ask me how I managed to break the bias and manage family and work together. I will not say policing, managing your family and police work is an easy task. In comparison to male officers, it is doubly difficult for women. Women are associated with femininity, humanness and kindness, which is an important force for managing a family as well as policing.  A woman officer should never leave her femininity just to act tough. A woman needn’t be tough just because she is wearing a uniform. Her mind should be tough which should reflect in her actions. It is important to work with integrity and essence of justice and handle citizens with sensitivity.

The recently published book ‘Madam Sir’ is an example in itself that a woman who is determined to shape her life cannot be hindered by anyone be it patriarchy, glass ceiling, family responsibilities or society. Manjari Jaruhar’s life story and her resilience has left a mark in the minds of every reader, especially women, to take up challenges and reach the goal they have set in their life.


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