To Shivani Shivaji Roy,

The first time I met you in 2014, you were wearing a typical Maharashtrian sari, complete with earrings, bindi, bangles and hair in a simple plait. You were carrying a blue cloth bag, but with a difference- you kept a gun in it.

As a senior police officer with the Mumbai Crime Branch, you used all means to create order in the society. Despite that, you were not very popular among your peers because you got such a high position as a woman. But you still knew how to assert yourself in your job and on a mission. And you effortlessly flitted between your roles as a doting maushi to an orphaned niece, dedicated wife to a doctor husband and an earnest, efficient cop.

You were devastated when Pyaari was kidnapped by the gang of Karan Rastogi. And unlike any general mother, who would mourn over this situation, you chose to fight like a tigress to get her back. And also gave her the same love and care as your own daughter. Karan Rastogi wasn’t just a drug mafia but was involved in sex trafficking too. And beating down someone like him wasn’t a piece a cake but you still managed it somehow. And I thank you for this.

Then next, when you were back in 2019, you solved the brutal case of Sunny, a psychopath who tortured and raped outspoken women.

He tried to mock you too by sneaking into your house and stealing your saree and then using it to fake a journalist’s suicide. He also kept an eye on you and even finished off the witness, demeaning you. But that made you stronger and you vowed to catch him in just two days. But this time you weren’t fighting only against that maniac, but also against your colleagues, media and everyone who categorized women. There was one brief, rousing moment where you told us about how barabari (equality) is too distant a dream, and there is not even a modicum of hissedari (sharing and participation) in the man-woman dynamics. This really empowered millions of fellow women.

And the way you defeated Sunny on the day of Diwali was absolutely commendable. You made us believe that women may be morphically different from men, but physically and mentally unbeatable…So, thank you for handling each adversity like a champion and showing me that I can do it as well. Thank you for reminding me what I’m capable of and what I deserve, even if I can’t see it at the time.  And thank you for showing me what being a strong and empowered woman resembles.

-Shivangi Kharbanda

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