In strife-torn Afghanistan, life’s always on the edge. Especially if you are part of UN peacekeeping operations. But Shakti Devi, a cop from Jammu & Kashmir Police currently deployed with UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), never let the enormity of the challenge — including occasionally subsisting on dry bread — interfere with her commitment to the job.
“Her consistent engagement in improving the service for victims of sexual and gender-based violence has led to successful investigation and prosecution,” the UN police division said while awarding her the prestigious International Female Police Peacekeeper Award 2014 in Winnipeg, Canada.
Devi hasn’t just contributed to setting up women police councils in several parts of the war-ravaged country and helped in improving the status of its female police. As Jammu & Kashmir police chief K Rajendra Kumar recalls, even when working back home, “she convinced the local police leadership to undertake safety outreach program in schools to provide safety to girl students.”
Devi, born in the small hamlet of Majalata in Udhampur district, cites Kiran Bedi, India’s first woman IPS officer, as her inspiration. A post with the following couplet was ‘liked’ by her on social media: Manzil to mil hi jayegi bhatakte hi sahi/Gumrah toh woh hain jo ghar se nikalte hi nahi (I will find my destination wandering/Only those who dare not step out of home lose their way).
Known to be extremely religious by disposition, Devi has previously served in the UN mission to Timor in 2012. The honour is a competitive award given to an outstanding female police peacekeeper serving in a UN peace operation.