On Friday, as Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann handed over appointment letters to 251 youth recruited in various government departments, one of them, a young woman, said she was the first from her village to pursue BTech. The woman claimed girls in her village were not encouraged to pursue higher education, but her father supported her and her sister to pursue their goals.
A touched Mann, told her: “When you go back to your village, tell the villagers that daughters too can do wonders”. The daughters, indeed, are doing wonders in Punjab, breaking glass ceilings and stereotypes, and giving hopes to many others to pursue tier dreams. Sample this: 10 districts of 23 in Punjab now have women as Deputy Commissioners (DC), with an additional four holding the position of district police chiefs. The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) at the joint capital Chandigarh is also a woman IPS officer from Punjab.
At least eight of these woman officers have roots in Punjab. While Fatehgarh Sahib SSP Ravjot Grewal is from Patiala, Muktsar DC Ruhee Dugg is from Jalandhar, her Malerkotla counterpart is from Bathinda, while Fazilka DC Senu Kapila Duggal is from Ludhiana. Khanna SSP Amneet Kondal, Patiala DC Sakshi Sawhney, Fatehgarh Sahib DC Parneet Shergill and Barnala DC Poonamdeep have roots in Punjab.
These woman officers showcase a diverse array of educational backgrounds that tend to influence their administrative decisions as well.
While Maletkotla DC Dr Pallavi studied MBBS from Government Medical College Amritsar before shifting to civil services, Muktsar DC Dr Ruhee Dugg pursued MBBS from Government Medical College Faridkot. Similarly, Fatehgarh Sahib SSP Ravjot Grewal is a dentist and Ropar DC Dr Preeti Yadav is a 2014 batch IAS officer, who also studied dentistry in Rajasthan.
Other woman officers also boast of admirable academic achievements. For instance, Ludhiana’s first woman DC Surabhi Malik holds a master’s in economics from London School of Economics. Fazilka DC Senu Kapila Duggal has been a gold medalist throughout her academic journey.
Officers such as Mohali DC Ashika Jain, Barnala DC Poonamdeep Kaur, Patiala DC Sakshi Sawney, and Hoshiarpur DC Komal Mittal have backgrounds in law, public administration, arts, or business administration.
Interestingly, nine of the 10 DCs are posted in the Malwa region, with districts neighbouring Chandigarh – Mohali, Patiala, Ropar, and Fatehgarh Sahib – all led by women DCs.
These officers were at the forefront when the state battled its worst-ever floods in decades earlier this year.
Mohali DC Ashika Jain, who is a 2015 batch IAS officer, supervised the arrangements against the surging waters with her one-year-old waiting in her official car. Similar was the situation for Patiala DC Sakshi Sawhney, who secured AIR 6 for the 2014 IAS batch. Fatehgarh Sahib stands unique, boasting both a woman DC, Parneet Shergill, and SSP, Dr Ravjot Grewal. While Shergill, who is affectionately called fauji for her discipline, led the administration officials from the front during the floods, Dr Grewal has played a critical role in busting an inter-state drug cartel earlier this year with a record haul of banned tablets.
Woman SSPs take great pride in leading the state’s war on drugs. While Khanna SSP Amneet Kondal, a 2012 batch IPS officer with a background in psychology, focuses on controlling drug issues while offering counseling, Kapurthala SSP Vatsala Gupta, a 2016 batch IPS officer from Himachal, says her focus is on war against drugs in her my police district.