Early one morning in September, Sarbananda Sonowal, the Chief Minister of Assam, travelled to Hojai from Guwahati. He inaugurated a new railway track there and then proceeded onwards to Dibrugarh, another six- hour journey.
Special teams from the Assam police had fanned out even before the CM left Guwahati to sanitise the route, secure the locations and make sure that the safety precautions for a chief ministerial visit were in place. Coordinating the whole operation was Subashini Sankaran, an Indian Police Service officer, who was appointed as the head of Sarbananda Sonowal’s security detail in July last year. Before her appointment as SP (security) to the chief minister, Subashini was posted to different parts of Assam. She started as an ASP on probation in Azara Police Station in Guwahati.
Subashini is the first lady IPS officer in post-Independence India to be put in charge of a chief minister’s security. For someone who doesn’t have an IPS family background, Sankaran had to steel herself and break numerous stereotypes, especially in a role which leaves zero scope for error.
Looking after the security of the chief minister – mapping out the routes, coordinating with the teams that provide close proximity protection, briefing and debriefing the personnel – is a full-time job, and 15-18 hour shifts aren’t uncommon for Subashini.
In her downtime she reads biographies and listens to jazz and folk music to unwind.
Subashini hails from a South Indian middle class family with roots in Kumbakonam in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. Her maternal grandfather, M. Rajagopalan, started two magazines in the 1950s which are still being published, Motorindia and the Textile Magazine.