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SLEUTH service

Vijaya Parameswaran heads a security agency in a predominantly male-centric field



Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

YOU MUST have seen them in thrillers - with long black coats, shades and bowler hats, smoking pipe. No, not the murderers or gangsters. They are on the other side of the law while the lot we are talking about stand by the law.

Detectives or sleuths - the very mention of the word conjures up an archetypal image. But meet Vijaya Parameswaran at her 3011, Emerald House, Parklane office (Tel: 27849761/ 27811206/ 27817014; mobile: 98490-31092), and you are bound to change your opinion. A bubbly woman at the helm of affairs in a field considered tough and male-dominated, Vijaya tells you that she has chosen this field "because it gives me a thrill, doing something unusual."

Even after being qualified for a job in the S.B.H. from where her father retired as A.G.M., she was forced to look for job elsewhere as "my father wanted my brother to join." She then worked for Celco Marketing where she "had to sell the idea of collecting stamps to students. I was on my own and I liked the job." She also worked with Indo-Force Bureau as a chief manager. Five years later, Vijaya started her own company "to show my boss that I'm capable. Moreover, people who have worked for me started their own companies. And, I took it as a challenge."

That never-say-die spirit made her start Alert Security Force, the company which "provides two kinds of services to clients since 1984: industrial security and detective agents." Of the 500-odd personnel working for her, about ten are `operators' (detective, in common parlance) who are on the beat "collecting information and reporting the same to the boss to be compiled on a day-to-day basis".

"I also train girls and send them on odd jobs where there are no risks," says Vijaya who handles different kinds of cases like, industries and business houses asking for verification of employees' credentials (either before or during the tenure of a job) and individuals who seek investigation in private matters. "After the 9/11 attack, my American clients are particular that the prospective employees do not have any political affiliation, criminal record or radical nexus. They also check the candidate's personal background and whether s/he is a pile-on, a spendthrift, and such stuff," she says.

On the private front, cases mostly involve suspicious spouses. "We try to counsel the couple at the preliminary stage itself to ensure there is no divorce. Only when the client insists, I take up the case. Unfortunately in about 70 per cent of the cases, the doubt turns out to be true," says Vijaya who has a panel of advocates providing expert advice.

"Listening to the client patiently is important as that interaction helps in analysing the case better. Some crucial, though insignificant, points might crop up during this discussion, which will be of importance. But, investigation is costly and involves a lot of expenditure. I charge about Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 per case depending on the nature and time involved," she says about the investigation procedure. Does it involve change of appearances like they show in movies? "Yes, using accessories like false beards, wigs, attire, hats and coats, we change our appearance and follow the person without s/he realising it. We behave as if we are whiling away our time and have got nothing to do with anybody whatsoever," she says. "But these days, it has become difficult as people tend to call up the police when being followed," adds the Palghat Iyer who loves badminton, swimming, parties and making friends.

Her ability to speak nine languages makes Vijaya take up cases in other cities too, most of which she attends to personally and "enjoys driving down in my Toyota Qualis." Actually, the concept of detectives and investigation, particula'rly those including criminal cases, does not ex'ist in India, says Vijaya.

Well, if you have a problem, you now know whom to contact.

SHANTI NANISETTI

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