A challenge for the new DGP would be to make sure Tipu Jayanti celebrations go off peacefully
A day after she took over as Karnataka's first woman top cop, Neelamani N Raju tells NDTV that she does not consider there is a glass ceiling in the police force.
"There is equal opportunity at all levels. I never saw myself as a woman officer - it doesn't really feel that way to me. But a lot of people see it that way. And I think it is good to have women feel that way in a way. Women facing problems in different spheres of life, if my elevation helps them in some way, I am happy about it," Ms Raju told NDTV at the Director General of Police headquarters in Bengaluru, which was relatively quiet as today is Rajyotsava Day, a holiday to mark the state's formation.
Ms Raju did agree that her elevation would encourage other women police officers. "If they are good in their work and they are as good as anybody else, it will be possible," she said.
Ms Raju said she needed time to look into the unsolved murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh who was shot dead in early September outside her home in Bengaluru. Home minister Ramalinga Reddy had said the police would come out with the solution to the crime hopefully by the end of October, but there have been no arrests in that case so far.
Another challenge for the new DGP would be making sure that the state government sponsored Tipu Jayanti celebrations go off peacefully. The BJP and other representatives of the right-wing have strongly objected to the celebration of Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary - they view the 18th century leader as a bigoted tyrant. The state government, which describes him as a brave freedom fighter began the annual celebration in 2015 - a year in which two people died in related protests. Ms Raju said, "We have plans, like last year, plans are in place and we will make sure it is peaceful like last year."
Responding to a question on communal tension in areas like the coastal Dakshina Kannada, she said, "Incidents do keep happening. Sometimes it comes in a wave and sometimes it is all peaceful. Sometimes, one thing leads to another. These are the things that come up and we deal with them. Elections or otherwise, police handle those cases and we will continue to do so to give a peaceful atmosphere to the people."
Ms Raju said she was confident that the elections in the state, due in a few months, would be absolutely peaceful.
Karnataka has also been making the headlines for issues of women safety. The new DGP spoke of existing efforts by the police force including exclusive all-women police stations and Pink Hoysalas - patrolling vehicles that focus on crimes against women. "At my level I would like to have more sensitisation programmes for the police. We have to show a little more empathy when women complainants come - especially in cases where they are feeling shy to talk about. They should be feeling comfortable to talk about it and get their grievances addressed. I would like that kind of sensitisation to have a little more impact," she told NDTV.
On priorities, she said, "My first priority, like any other cop would be the maintenance of law and order. The safety and security of people and their property. That is the most important thing. Other things come as and when they occur. Crime, rate of conviction also important. But law and order is always first priority."
Ms Raju has spent many years of her career in the Intelligence Bureau in Delhi - which she said would help her current role. "In the IB we do a lot of analysis work which is very important at a higher leadership level. We are all police officers and whatever work we do there is always a great police angle. IB is the premier police agency, so it is not as if we are away from a police work culture," she said.
And was it always a dream to be a police officer? Laughing, Ms Raju told NDTV, "I was raised as a tomboy by my mother. Probably she had a premonition that that was where I was going to end up. I wrote UPSC three times and every time I was selected only for IPS. I guess I was fated."