Guwahati: She would be in college daily, bag on shoulder, and would be seen chatting with friends, spending time in the canteen, “bunking” class, like any student. Only, she wasn’t. She was an undercover cop gathering evidence on ragging on campus.
Shalini Chouhan, a 24-year-old constable with Madhya Pradesh police, played a key role in the recent crackdown against ragging at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College in Indore.
Over three months, she identified 11 senior students allegedly involved in the brutal ragging of first-year students. The seniors have been suspended from the college and the hostel for three months.
NDTV spoke to Ms Chauhan and her senior, Inspector Tehzeeb Qazi, on the undercover operation.
Mr Qazi said that they had received anonymous complaints from students about ragging. The complaints alleged that first-year students were made to perform vulgar acts, such as pretending to have sex with pillows. But the complainants did not come forward or name the accused, possibly fearing harassment, the officer said.
“We went to check on the campus, but the students were so scared that they did not come forward once they saw us in uniform. We tried to track down the contact numbers of the complainants, but the helpline’s policy did not allow that,” added the officer.
“So we went back to good old ground-level policing. Shalini and other constables were asked to spend time on and around the campus in plain clothes, chat with students at the canteen and tea stalls nearby. As they started speaking to junior students, they came to know of the horrifying experience they were going through. This is how we got witnesses and cracked the case,” said Mr Qazi.
The policewoman told the media that this was an “entirely new experience” for her. “I would go to college everyday disguised as a student. I spoke to students at the canteen. I would talk about myself, and gradually they started opening up and confiding in me,” she said.
Asked if the students ever doubted her, she said, “Sometimes they would ask questions, but I would evade them and change the topic. The canteen would be crowded, and they did not give much thought,” she said.
She said she would carry a bag with books and dress up like a college student during her undercover visits to the campus. “I would ensure that I looked like a student,” she said.