It had been an exhausting day at the lit fest, and all I wanted was a cuppa. There were seriously famous writers and celebrities floating around in the designated open air area for participants at the Delhi edition of the event. I was smiling and reacting to complete strangers on auto pilot, with a somewhat glazed/crazed look in my tired, bloodshot eyes. Just as I was about to take my first sip, a lady politely asked if she could join me. I groaned mentally and brought back my fixed ‘public’ smile. Something about her face and expression caught my attention instantly, and we got chatting. She had just finished her own session—a panel discussion on policing. Someone came up to congratulate her on her presentation, and she accepted the compliment graciously. “Don’t you know who she is?” a common friend asked me. I didn’t. I was given a ready reckoner—hello! Roopa D. Moudgil! I leapt out of my chair to hug her! What followed was an amazing conversation, when she told me about ‘that’ episode. The one that had shot her into the limelight for exposing the VIP treatment being extended to V.K. Sasikala inside a Bengaluru jail. I was instantly fascinated. She told me many stories, which were as colourful as they were hard-to-believe. If this is how some of our prisons function, who can possibly mind being incarcerated? She described Sasikala’s daily routine with clinical precision. From Roopa’s vivid and credible account, J. Jayalalithaa’s closest companion was a ‘prisoner’ only in name. Her life within those walls, was not just comfortable, it was also unbelievably privileged!
Recalling the media attention her expose’ had generated, Roopa laughed it off and said she was merely doing her job. Yes, she was promptly transferred as ‘punishment’ for her audacity. At present, she is the inspector general of police of home guards and civil defence, Bengaluru. And, once again hitting the headlines! Roopa is clearly not someone to mess with!
Years ago, as a superintendent of police, she had arrested Uma Bharti and even back then, Roopa had attracted enough attention as a go-getting, uncompromising policewoman who meant business. She refused to cow down to political bullies. That was her stance then. And, that is her stance today. Recently, she once again proved her mettle when she turned down a cash award of Rs 2 lakh offered by an NGO. Well, this NGO is run by a BJP Member of Parliament, and Roopa made it very clear as to why she was turning down the award. She said it went against her principles, and her conscience would not allow her to accept an award offered by any political party. By publicly snubbing politician Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the man behind the NGO, Roopa made a strong point for our police forces to stay miles away from political patronage—regardless of the hues of the party.
A person like Roopa plays a very important role in reminding us that probity in public life is not an alien concept. We tend to clump police officers across the board into a basket labelled ‘corrupt’. Unfortunately, we are right most of the time. I like Roopa for not playing the gender card and crying ‘victim’ each time she was transferred for merely doing her job. Namma Bengaluru Foundation should have known the character of their upright potential awardee. Roopa cannot be purchased. Not for Rs 2 lakh or Rs 2 crore. I guess that for some die-hard, politically dishonest individuals with a clear agenda, that is almost impossible to digest. Here is hoping Roopa continues to give indigestion to several more arrogant folks in future.