Chennai police’s bonnies in blue now a fave at ceremonial events

“There were instances when our fellow policemen asked us whether we are college students,” laughs A Sindhu. All the constables had joined the Chennai police as grade-2 constables only in 2020 and being part of the band has given them the attention they least expected.
Chennai police’s bonnies in blue now a fave at ceremonial events
Justin George

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Police is often drawn parallels with Scotland Yard for the investigative prowess, a notion perpetuated in popular culture over the years, with no reasoning. The Scottish influence has now extended to their traditional musical instrument too, with Chennai police forming an all-woman bagpipe band, a first in Tamil Nadu police.

Formed on March 1, the band of 34 women cops attached to the city police’s armed reserve has already performed in two major events — Chief Minister’s medal parade on May 27 and before former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on July 31, when he presented the President’s Colours to the TN police.

Ticking off these important boxes aside, what catches the eye of this band is their uniform. Dressed in blue traditional Scottish kilts, the 34-woman cop band is a cynosure of all eyes at ceremonial events.

“There were instances when our fellow policemen asked us whether we are college students,” laughs A Sindhu. All the constables had joined the Chennai police as grade-2 constables only in 2020 and being part of the band has given them the attention they least expected.

Inspector V Anandhi, in charge of the band, too concurs that the uniform is the highlight. “Our Commissioner Shankar Jiwal and other senior police officers were very enthusiastic about the idea. In fact, they managed to source the uniform specially from Hyderabad,” Anandhi told DT Next. City police had spent about Rs 12.9 lakh on the band so far.

“We’re building something and that is great,” said Anandhi, a resourceful officer who has earlier been in charge of police sports teams.

Uniforms and instruments done, city police roped in ex-serviceman K Kaliyappan to train the constables. With over three decades of experience in the Army band, the retired subedar major hones the band’s skills every day.

“Ideally, it takes about seven years for a band to function to its full potential. But our constables have been quick learners. It’s no joke to perform in ceremonial events within six months of forming the band,” Kaliyappan said. TN special police constable A Surya Prakash helps the drummers.

The constables said they were ‘very nervous’ and still are, but the response from the public has been a source of encouragement.

“My family members watched our performance on TV and called us. It was a moment to be proud about. Our friends pulled our legs as friends do, but they were supportive too. Our uniforms are a show stealer,” said A Kalvikkarasi, a constable.

The uniqueness of the bagpipe band is that unlike the other bands of uniformed forces, which appear rigid in their march, the bagpipe band members march in a rolling motion, which pleases the audience’s eyes.

“But, it is a tough act to carry out as the pipers have to be wary about the air in the bag, the formation and the march, all the while playing the right notes,” said J Saranya.

Their novelty of being the first all-women pipe band is soon to wear out and the band has set its sights on all-India police band competitions in the future. For now, apart from practice, the women in blue have been learning a few film tunes too.

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