A REAL LIFE HERO WHO PUTS NA­TION ABOVE ALL

Meet Sudesna Sen­gupta, the win­ner of HT Woman Awards in Be­yond UP cat­e­gory

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - Deep Sax­ena ■ deep.sax­ena@htlive.com

‘He­roes don’t al­ways come in uni­form!’ The tagline of Ajay Devgn­star­rer ‘Raid’ -- a film based on high-pro­file in­come tax raids -- holds true not only for reel life but real life too.

Sudesna Sen­gupta, who won the HT Woman Awards in Be­yond UP cat­e­gory, is one such in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer who has over­come per­sonal and pro­fes­sional chal­lenges with élan to serve the coun­try.

Sam­ple this: She led an oper­a­tion to nab a no­to­ri­ous smug­gler wanted in 40 cases and elud­ing the po­lice net for six years.

“Af­ter gather­ing in­tel, we started the oper­a­tion at 1 am in hired ve­hi­cles as his aides were spread all over the area in Maslan­da­pur (West Ben­gal). His hide­out had mul­ti­ple ex­its. At 4:30 am we reached an open­ing where we had to en­ter from an iron grill be­low the door. Barely dogs could pass through it,” she says.

Though her team sug­gested her to stay back but the gritty of­fi­cer of Di­rec­torate of Rev­enue In­tel­li­gence de­cided to lead from the front.

“I could not have missed this chance. I went in­side with my part­ner (IO) Sudeb Sarkar and ar­rested the ac­cused,” she says and adds, “Our each raid is a plot for a movie.”

DRI, where she works, is man­dated to com­bat smug­gling of con­tra­band goods, traf­fick­ing of nar­cotics, un­der­in­voic­ing and thwart­ing all anti-na­tional eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties hav­ing its ju­ris­dic­tion all over In­dia.

FAM­ILY SUP­PORT, THE KEY!

For Sudesna, a na­tive of Kolkata, her fam­ily-- both pa­ter­nal as well as in-laws-- is her strength.

Sudesna says her fa­ther al­ways gave pri­or­ity to her and is her in­spi­ra­tion. “Never in my life had I felt that my par­ents treated me dif­fer­ently,” says Sudesna who also has a brother eight years younger to her.

“Be­ing the el­der kid, I used to visit whole West Ben­gal with my fa­ther for can­vass­ing the books as he was a pub­lisher,” she says. Her fa­ther mo­ti­vated her to work. “I was help­ing him in his busi­ness. The sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity was guided by an­other thing to do some­thing big for the so­ci­ety and na­tion,” she says.

“Now also, I live in a joint fam­ily, my mother-in-law — the head of the fam­ily — is a great fighter. She lost her hus­band 23 years back and over­came all ad­verse cir­cum­stances to bring up two sons for which she even sac­ri­ficed her ca­reer,” Sudesna says. Her hus­band Sourav Sen­gupta is a na­tional-lever ta­ble ten­nis player and to­gether they have a son and daugh­ter.

“Study has been my first love through­out be it school text or other books. I love lit­er­a­ture and was into it but some­how I look ge­og­ra­phy as sub­ject in hon­ors. In col­lege, I came very close to the so­ci­ety due to a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties and saw num­ber of so­cial is­sues and started act­ing as mem­ber of Ro­tarac­tor Club of Kolkata mid-south. Vis­it­ing or­phan­age, old age houses and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres mo­ti­vated me to take hu­man rights as my sub­ject in mas­ters,” she says.

KEY AS­SIGN­MENTS

Her work and cases brought her to Ut­tar Pradesh too. “I am deal­ing with very big case re­lated to UP rail­way syn­dicate which runs 8-10 fraud com­pa­nies that im­ports ready­made gar­ments from China on the ba­sis of mis­declar­ing the goods and declar­ing them un­der­val­ued evad­ing cus­toms duty,” she says.

She also ac­tively took part in seizure of 12 kg smug­gled gold bis­cuits of for­eign ori­gin from a syn­dicate of Varanasi.

The king­pin who was from UP man­aged to es­cape but fi­nally caught from Guwa­hati. She was also part of the team in which DRI booked a series of 13 cases of smug­gling through Kolkata Air­port where goods worth ₹193 crore re­lated to coun­ter­feit high val­ued branded watches, branded shoes and elec­tronic items were seized.

“These days, I am work­ing on a syn­dicate of ex­port di­ver­sion of jew­ellery which in­volves evad­ing ₹2,500 crore of gov­ern­ment duty. I have con­trib­uted a lot to wildlife cases where il­le­gal trade of star tor­toise (a rare species), ele­phant tusk, tiger skin and rhino horn was been done,” says Sudesna.

ON CHAL­LENGES

Work­ing day and night for a mother of two is al­ways a chal­lenge.

“At first, I was only called in as­sign­ments where fe­males ac­cused were in­volved. But the ti­tle of lady of­fi­cer did not sat­isfy my ap­petite. It took me one year to prove my­self. And one day I was called in mid­night for raids.”

Chal­lenges are more when the labour is man­ual. “Es­pe­cially, when equiv­a­lent amount of strength and en­ergy is re­quired like a male. For ex­am­ple, lead­ing an oper­a­tion to ex­am­ine a 40-ft con­tainer at Kolkata port that takes 20-36 hours work­ing with labour­ers and tak­ing all record­ings is very ex­cru­ci­at­ing. An­other chal­lenge is when your kids are ill and you have to re­port to duty,” she says.

THREAT COMES AS PACK­AGE!

The of­fi­cer says smug­gling cases comes with lifethreat­en­ing risks.

“I have faced di­rect threats like if I am out of cus­tody even God can’t save you!’ Af­ter re­lease from ju­di­cial cus­tody, peo­ple are re­quired to re­port to DRI and have to deal with IOs. In one of the cases of smug­gling from Mayan­mar the ac­cused whis­pered to me, ‘your boy is in this school…your hus­band works here…you live in this area…my past dat­ing back to 10 years…so some­times it’s very dis­turb­ing. But, nowa­days I don’t care! Still, when fam­ily comes into pic­ture…it’s surely chal­leng­ing!”

In the same vein she adds, “Con­tri­bu­tion to na­tion is my pri­or­ity. Drug ad­dic­tion re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is one arena where I would like to work.”

Sudesna Sen­gupta on a va­ca­tion with her fam­ily and (be­low) with the HT Woman Be­yond UP award.

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