The opening scene is of a footloose and fancy-free BBA student at Chennai’s MOP Vaishnav College, who went on to pursue an MBA through ICFAI. A fair share of dramatic twists ensued like a road accident during her college years that made her parents – Mohamed Salman, then an employee of the Tuticorin Port Trust and Mohamed Azeeza grow understandably “jittery.”
Three cushy corporate jobs at reputed IT companies on the trot – at Accenture, at HCL in the Human Resources Department and film production house BOT VFX, pretty much lent itself to a Monday to Friday routine with binge watching of movies at her “weekend favourite haunt” – Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai. Hanging out at the Elliots Beach in Besant Nagar, where “shooting balloons with an air rifle” was another regular thrill. NCC training resulted in the pellets often hitting the target and the balloons bursting!
The next take sets the plot in motion. The 70 mm film overdose and the air rifle had to make way for a real 9 mm service pistol! Mohammad Sujeetha was fascinated by the power of the bureaucracy to change lives. It was her parents’ dream as well. During her formative years, the vivacious girl was also motivated by a senior IAS officer Mr.Machendranathan, former Chairman of the Tuticorin Port Trust to take on the grind. A sabbatical from work was a pre-requisite to chase this ‘shift focus’. 7 to 11 am Civil Services Exam preparatory classes for someone who was “just not a morning person” meant breaking out of a “comfort zone”.
Then came an anti-climax. Despite being a topper in English at Holy Cross Anglo Indian school at Tuticorin, Sujeetha was in for a rude shock when she failed to get past the qualifying English paper in the Civil Services Exam in 2011. The Preliminary examination the next year proved elusive. Digging in her heels, in her third attempt with History as her Optional Subject, the gritty youngster essayed a happy ending with a new role as an IPS officer of the 2014 batch.
Over the last 7 years, Sujeetha’s tryst with khakhi has been beset with opportunities to prove her mettle. Even as a probationer, Sujeetha dived right in during the Chennai floods of 2015 by reaching essential supplies to victims through social media platforms formed by bureaucrats.
Early on, after her field training at Shimoga, Sujeetha was catapulted to a law & order role at a high voltage by-election as the ASP – Nanjangud. Highly sensitive mining related cases marked her next posting as Superintendent of Police (Special Investigation Team) Lokayukta. Commanding the flag day parade was a highlight in her innings as the Commandant of the Karnataka State Reserve Police Battalion.
A challenging district posting as the SP of Kolar Gold Fields followed. Here, Sujeetha empowered women, akin to ‘Charlie’s Angels’ through “a twenty one day programme that involved self defence like karate sessions, bike riding and legal awareness.” Ensuring the welfare of her team comprising close to 300 families through a slew of measures was a priority. One of the initiatives was creating “a sort of check dam to rejuvenate the water table in a drought hit area”
In her present posting as Deputy Commissioner of Police (City Armed Reserve) at the Bengaluru Police headquarters, Sujeetha pitches in with staff and logistics for law and order situations and security for VIPs and installations. Her HR and administrative acumen came to her fore as she conducted an online auction of close to 500 condemned police vehicles and garnered “almost thrice” the regular revenue for the department. The young officer attributes her success to her top bosses, who double up as role models – Karnataka DGP Praveen Sood and Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant, who never say ‘No’ to any innovative ideas, “as long as they are logical and legal.” Not to forget other senior officers like Chandrashekhar, Soumendu Mukherjee and Sharath Chandra “who were instrumental in making me what I am today.”
That Sujeetha did not get her home State – Tamil Nadu hardly seemed to matter. “Karnataka does feel like home. The food, the culture are all so similar. And my parents moved in with me.” Movies aside, reading History books and watching documentaries on Ancient India and Temple Architecture have caught her fancy.
Having “never faced discrimination at work”, Sujeetha reveals that she is “not a feminist in the perceived sense of the term. To me, empowerment does not stem from jobs or titles but from a woman’s power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and to be accepted as she is.” The inspirational quotient is evident from some of her lectures on youtube that have notched up over 7.5 lakh views.
On the personal front, the 33 year old cop is “happily single” with a “good set of friends.” Could that be the next twist in the plot of what promises to coast towards a blockbuster police career?
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)