MEMORIES OF SILLIGURI
Siliguri has a very special place in my heart and in my journey. Secondly the contribution from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is the largest of Central Armed Police Force of India has been remarkable in my journey through India. On that day Siliguri and CRPF together made my day most memorable.
I was received by the DIG Mr B K Topo when I arrived to Siliguri. To elaborate a bit, CRPF is contemplated India's biggest paramilitary force with 308,862 personnel sanctioned to it with 235 battalions.
I had a good night sleep and next day with a very fresh mind I had wonderful interaction with Mr Topo who shared his role as DIG in that area, his courageous acts, fights with Naxalites and what CRPF does and many more things. We also discussed my journey and the experiences I gathered whilst travelling through 32 countries. He shared so many incidences where he was in extremely dangerous situations and how he came out of it. He had organised my interaction with the CRPF officers that morning.
I was really looking forward to meet the police officers. For some reason I had same excitement for being in that beautiful city also. Siliguri is located on the banks of the Mahananda River, but the thing amazes me that it is at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is also called as a gateway of North East India. I call it a city of ‘T’s as it is known for tea, timber, tourism and transport. My excitement continued as I entered the ground full of the police officers waiting for me. Everyone had so many questions for me and were ready to listen to me. Whilst I somewhat criticised and tried to understand the reasons for less females in the police force, I also praised the police department for the wonderful work they are doing. I emphasised the importance of the empathy, especially towards females when they come to police station with their complaints and also to take them seriously. I shared the experience where the female (my own relative) had to loose life due to police officers acting as counsellors rather than living their role. They all admired my journey, my mission and the meeting ended with a positive note that all of them would spread the message of ‘Save girls and educate girls’ and also work towards woman empowerment. Mr Topo, the DIG, Siliguri and the whole CRPF would always stay special to me.
CRPF West Bengal were so much impressed and inspired with my journey, the message I was carrying and my mission of women empowerment that they awarded me with an award for Service and Loyalty. I was not only mesmerised but deeply touched by this thoughtful gesture of the CRPF and I would cherish this award for my whole life. I also shared chilling road rage, I had to face on the way to Siliguri and so many other exciting experiences with the CRPF officers, which would be elaborated in details in my forthcoming book ‘My Transcontinental Odyssey.’