In Focus

Super Cop Mubarak Leads The Way

By Nivedita Bose

It's a warm humid day in Colaba and the regular activity scaled down considering the COVID situation. That is, with the exception of the usual 'permitted' vehicles moving through the narrow lanes of the zone. The 'regulated' movement is interrupted by a flurry of activity outside a Wellness Forever store as a female traffic cop strolls by. "Tumhari gadi to nahi hai bahar? Parking barabar kiya tha na?" shouts out a customer at the store to another, even as a third 'local' bolts out to move his wrongly-parked two-wheeler to a Parking zone.

"I was just leaving in two minutes...I came out only to buy some medicine," says the owner of the wrongly-parked vehicle to the female cop, as she ignores him and directs one of her policemen to fine him. "She's very strict...doesn't care whose vehicle is it. If anyone's breaking a rule, she'll make sure action is taken. Everyone is petrified of her," quips a store worker as he witnesses the 'chaos' outside the store.

SUPER COP: Senior Police Inspector Colaba Traffic Division Mubarak Shaikh at work
For all the wrong reasons, it's rare for a traffic police officer to command this reaction: And, more so for a woman police officer to command such respect even instill fear in the hearts of offenders. But, Senior Police Inspector Colaba Traffic Division Mubarak Shaikh lives up to her reputation, every day, in the most trying circumstances, even amid the COVID-19 crisis, and how!

As the pandemic enters its seventh month, the challenges in maintaining order and implementing the lockdown guidelines to ensure safety and security of the public at large have become more difficult with each passing day. Super Cop Mubarak Shaikh has been on her toes since the beginning of the lockdown ensuring strict enforcement of the lockdown guidelines and maintaining traffic order in the Colaba Traffic Division.

MULTI TASKING: A digital montage showcasing Ms Shaikh's various avatars

The Colaba Traffic Division comprising Colaba, Marine Drive and Cuffe Parade areas covers a prominent chunk of South Mumbai. It's no easy task managing the crowds and the traffic but Ms Shaikh has been doing it tirelessly since she took charge an year ago. Born and raised in Akole, Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, Ms Shaikh has now been serving the state police department for the past 25 years.

"It was difficult to control the crowds when the lockdown was in place. People were getting restless staying at home and had become defiant because of the same. There were many who were not 'essential workers' but still were roaming around uselessly endangering lives of others and their own too. We had to be very strict with them," recalls Ms Shaikh of the time when after the 'absolute' lockdown, restrictions were being relaxed. "We had to adopt various means for people to understand and deter them from stepping out unnecessarily. We were issuing challans, impounding vehicles, putting nakabandi, issuing public notices for violations and creating awareness."

Ms Shaikh is a team player and ensures all members of her staff feel important and taken care of. Celebrations are frequent at her office as the staff just waits for an occasion to 'order sweets' or 'cut a cake'. She feels it's important to keep the staff motivated, especially in such trying times. "My staff is like an extended family for me. We work hard but when the occasion warrants, we celebrate together," says Ms Shaikh of the innumerable birthdays they have celebrated as a family, including her own that arrived bang in the middle of the lockdown.

SWEET GESTURE: Ms Shaikh doesn't miss an occasion to celebrate, even at work

"My staff were scared as they usually have close interactions with people and risk exposure. I realised it's important to keep them busy so they don't harbour negative thoughts and work well." In fact, such is the charisma of Ms Shaikh that even the senior staff with comorbidities who were told to take rest were getting restless at home and wanted to "return to work at the earliest."

Taking due care to keep the staff healthy, she ensured food packets for her personnel for both shifts and biscuits, water, sanitisers, masks, gloves, rain coats, umbrellas, etc. At office, ample provisions were made for safety and precautions such as the constant supply of warm water for the staff. "My staff has been working very hard every day, without complaining, despite being at the front-line and facing immense risk to life." Ms Mubarak has ensured that her entire staff is screened with a thermal gun for temperatures twice a day too. After all, apart from dealing with the public at large, they have to work as teams closely too.

Ms Shaikh prefers leading by example and sets the bar high for her staff. She works for 12 hours a day from 9 in the morning till 9 in the night. Even during the lockdown, she was "staying put on the road as visibility ensures the public stays indoors." 

FAMILY TIME: Super Cop Mubarak Shaikh spending quality time with her family

And that isn't enough. The Super Cop is a Super Mom too as she raises her two teenage daughters with her husband at their home in Bandra even amidst all the work chaos. "My family has been very supportive of me and my work and the lockdown brought us even closer and made us stronger as a family," says Ms Shaikh with distinct pride. The family takes one day at a time as Ms Shaikh steps out to the front-line disseminating her duties. "I love my daughters. They are very strong and support me tremendously. I am very proud of them."

They say a woman is a better leader as she is more compassionate and disciplined and Mubarak Shaikh is a living example of that.