Kotturu Sirisha, 26, sub-inspector at Srikakulam district, Kasibugga police station in Andhra Pradesh got a call from villagers of Adivikotturu on the morning of 1 February that an unidentified body lay on the village outskirts.
“My staff and I went to the place and saw the body of an elderly male, who was later identified as a 75-year-old beggar. We tried to ask the villagers for help to lift the body but no one was willing to help because they thought he died of COVID-19 or belonged to some other caste,” recalls Sirisha.
The incident which occurred on a fateful Monday took the internet by storm as a female inspector assisted in the carrying of a dead body when no one else wanted to get their hands dirty.
“On humanitarian grounds, I tried lifting the body alone at first,” she tells The Better India.
The only other person who was willing to help her was Chinni Krishna, 53, who runs Lalitha Charitable Trust where inspector Sirisha once volunteered. “I called Chinni Krishna, who runs an old aged home NGO, and he came to the village and helped me when no one was willing,” she says.
“We put the body on a stretcher and I placed the stretcher on my shoulders and began to walk for nearly 2 kilometres. In the village, there are no proper roads. It was a very narrow path with fields on both sides,” Sirisha says.
By the time the body was finally identified, the day had come to pass. The old man had presumably died of starvation, as according to Sirisha, he looked very weak and frail. “His family were unwilling to claim or cremate the body on a Tuesday due to their own superstitions. So we carried out the last rites at Lalitha Charitable Trust,” says the inspector.
The video of Sirisha carrying the body was recorded by a constable from her police station who, she says, later offered to help her with the body.
‘I only did my duty’
It has been 10 days since the incident and Sirisha has been lauded by the Director General of Police Gautam Sawang, who presented her with DGP’s Commendation Disc Award and a certificate of appreciation.
Woman #khaki, a symbol of humanity: #DGP Gautam Sawang presented the DGP’s Commendation Disc Award and a Certificate of Appreciation to WSI K. #Sirisha of Kasibugga PS for her exemplary service, professional excellence, display of #humanity & devotion to her duty. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/AFOCsz8etS
— Andhra Pradesh Police (@APPOLICE100) February 5, 2021
The Andhra Pradesh Police official handle tweeted, “She has proved her #dedication to serving the people by going beyond her call of duty and carrying a corpse on her shoulders for 2 km to help perform his last rites. Andhra Pradesh Police is proud of her as she stands as an #inspiration to all.”
The IPS Association on Twitter wrote:
— IPS Association (@IPS_Association) February 2, 2021
“I had never experienced something like this before. At my previous police station, in Nandigama, we had a lot of hit-and-run cases where I helped carry the bodies of people with head injuries and even saved two or three lives,” says the 26-year-old.
A police inspector for over three years, Sirisha passed the SI exam in 2017, prior to which she was a constable for the Excise Department in 2014.
The sub-inspector who also has a Master’s degree in Pharmacy adds, “The body was heavy but the situation demanded I did something. It is my duty to serve the underprivileged. I only did my duty.” Asked why she chose this profession, and she says, “My father, who is a mason, a daily wager, asked me to join the police force. He has a lot of respect for the police. I respect my father a lot and chose to fulfil this dream. I aspire to be a DSP someday.”
In her concluding message to the world, she says, “Many are of the opinion that females shouldn’t do certain things. There are so many restrictions on us even today but we have every right to do whatever we feel is right. And when it comes to being a decent human, there are no barriers.”
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)