The Delhi Police heritage is reflected here
It was last week, February 16 to be precise when I was invited to the at home function organized by the Delhi Police Commissioner Yudhbir Singh Dadwal to mark the police raising day. I have been to similar functions many times in the past too but what was unique about this day was that the at home was arranged at the Delhi Police Gazetted Officers mess, once the official residence of Police Chiefs and now a heritage building located on Alipur Road (now Sham Nath Marg).
The magnificent building which has been spruced up by Dadwal and also provides a historical glimpse to the past served as a perfect backdrop as senior officials, past and present drawn from various organizations participated in the celebrations with the famed Delhi police band playing some memorable music.
I had visited this building the last time in early 2000 when Ajai Raj Sharma, a very fine officer was the Police Commissioner and had presented me with a memento given to me by the retired gazetted officers of the Delhi police for reporting on crime stories very objectively and without any fear or prejudice during the time when I personally covered the beat and subsequently supervised it as the City chief of both the TOI and HT. The historic building was losing its importance since barring S.S.Jog in the mid eighties, no other Delhi Police Commissioner preferred to stay here. It had been converted into a GO mess and had become a watering hole.
To add to the problems, former Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma who stayed in the next building had included a part of the area from here in his own official residence. The place had degenerated into a place were weddings were held and builders of disrepute often could be seen drinking with middle level cops raising speculation about the police-builder nexus.
But Dadwal has changed all this. He has banned weddings and wants to make the premises a permanent venue for the raising day. A very apt decision which will help preserve the legacy of a very brave police force which has seen troubled times but has been led over the years by the likes of Bhawanimal, Rajgopal, L.S.Bisht, Ved Marwah, Mukund Kaushal, Nikhil Kumar and K.K.Paul to name just a few of the chiefs.
But what is most important is that the legacy is now in safe hands. The at home on Feb. 16 had many top officers, past and present rubbing shoulders. I was most delighted to once again meet Ashwani Kumar, former BSF DGP and the senior most living IP officer. Kumar who is just about 90 belonged to the 1942 batch of Imperial Police and had become a legend in his life time very early. His exploits while arresting Sucha Singh, main accused in the assassination of former Punjab CM, Pratap Singh Kairon are a part of police folklore. He as a famed Punjab police Chief had handled many difficult situations and his contribution to Indian Hockey as its president is viewed differently by friends and rivals.
But Kumar represents the spirit of a police officer which has still not wilted to this day despite several surgical operations. He walks totally erect and conducts himself with greater dignity than many officers many years his junior.
There were a lot of others at the function where President Pratibha Patil was the chief guest. It has always been a great pleasure to exchange notes with Ved Marwah whose knowledge and insight always helps in viewing simple things differently. Mukund Kaushal has the reputation of being the man with best man management skills while Nikhil Kumar, his batchmate is now making a mark for himself in the world of politics (He is a Congress MP from Aurangabad). K.K.Paul, the longest serving Police Commissioner is now a member of the UPSC but he was perhaps truly the last of those who belonged to the old school.
A no nonsense man, he was amongst the best in Delhi. There were others who were present. Gary Saxena, A.S.Dulat, N.K.Shinghal, R.K.Ohri, P.C.Haldar and present DIB, Rajeev Mathur were conspicuous as they moved around and exchanged greetings with former and present colleagues in the Indian police force.
What, however, was strange was that there were very few media persons present. I remember, such functions would have a good media presence and journalists would use the occasion to renew contacts and to share some happy moments with the police officers. It seems to me that relationship between the police and the media has undergone a change for the worse.
The two were never the best of friends since there has always been a conflict of interest while pursuing some critical stories but this had never prevented cordial relations to flourish at a personal level. I wish both the media and the police must revisit this aspect and try and ascertain why this cooling off is taking place unless I have over read the situation. But in any case, for me the visit to Alipur road was very rewarding as I got to meet many of my old friends.