Bidding Adieu….. !
By Maxwell Pereira
maxpk@vsnl.com

It seems like yesterday! And yet it is nigh 35 years since North India beckoned me from the air-conditioned garden city of Bangalore, to become, of all things, a policeman in Delhi!

Come this weekend, on the last day of October, I hang my brown 'oxfords' up on the wall, and put away my uniforms - never to be worn again, and permanently consign the ceremonial medal strip that decorates my chest to the showcase, to keep company with other mementos that bring back memories of a chequered career.

Talking of memories, the vision is stark of how I survived Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Fort at Phillaur then known only as the 'torture chamber' - to emerge from it with a sobriquet that described it all. Why they called me 'Qila ka Damad' is another story which propriety demands I confine only to own memory and not share. But apart from reducing my 99kg 'Sonny Liston' frame to a mere 74, the Punjabis also mutilated my name, referred to me with every permutation or combination they could contrive, ultimately settling down to making me just plain and simple Pyara Singh!

But landing in Delhi from 'training' started my romance with the city, thanks to the bosses to whom I was 'attached' - for grooming and honing, to grow into a field police officer. Officers who saw potential in me enough to hand pick me when it mattered, tolerate my nonsense and what in police parlance could be termed as downright impertinence bordering on, some may even say, insubordination or indiscipline… and basked in my successes and achievements - the Kaushals, the Shinghals, the Rajgopals, the Bhagats, the Kumars - the list can go on and on.

Throwing my own words back at me when I tried to shy away from SDPO-ship for my very first posting after field training, it was IGP Rajgopal who put the shits in me with his "…Yes, I know! ….you weren't born a policeman, you know no Hindi nor Punjabi;" ….and waving his baton at me in his chamber at the Kashmiri Gate Police Headquarters he had continued, "….but young man, I know you will go and take charge, work diligently and honestly, or else you have me to contend with!" Oh boy! That was it. There was no looking back. Famous last words - I wish he were alive today, to see what he made of me!

All this was that many years ago. Reminiscing through it all, one recalls the occasions to witness in these past years of policing Delhi, the black-outs and other civil defence war time needs of 1971, followed by the agitational years of the likes of the railway strike and the kissan rallies ….the promulgation and the rout of the Emergency era and the connected rampage be it to arrest national leaders from their beds …..or for sterilising, if not for pseudo disciplining of the masses. And then midst the rewarding of sycophants in the bounce-back - even as the hydra headed militancy and Punjab based terrorism reared its self in Delhi with Bhindranwale's gun-toting supporters on bus-rooftops invading the city with impunity …ultimately culminating with the assassination of Indira Gandhi leading to the '84 November riots - Delhi police's only real hour of shame like never before nor thereafter - not without a few bright sparks and sparkles though of exemplary deeds of a few even in these trying times!

And the times when Delhi Police needed to measure up to meet the challenges of narcotics control, control of gangsterism, supari killings and kidnappings for ransom …and against forays by organized crime syndicates; not forgetting the cyber crimes of the recent times too. And most importantly, to thwart the constant challenges of an open enemy through its ISI to infiltrate and strike at will in the heart of the Capital and elsewhere.

Talking of crime though, there has never been an occasion when Delhi Police has been found wanting, or unable to rise to the occasion. Be it in solving its murders, bomb blasts or kidnappings for ransom. The match-fixing cricket scam of course, catapulted Delhi police as a force par excellence to contend with, in the international arena.

Policing took me out of Delhi too - as the first SP for Sikkim when it merged with our country, for four glorious years in that Shangrila 'midst the Himalayan Mountains. To Mizoram, to experience first hand the legendary Laldenga, following Rajiv Gandhi's historic accord with the Mizo National Front. And as Police Chief to Pondicherry, that erstwhile hamlet with a hangover still of a rich French fragrance.

Yes, it has been a delight to serve. While remembering those who made me a policeman, I take this opportunity to thank them all - the bosses, the peers and colleagues lower and upper, the media friends, the bureaucrats, the politicians, friends and well-wishers, and members of the public - for suffering my idiosyncrasies down the years. For what the service afforded me, to acquire the greatest of all treasures and assets - the opportunities to help the needy. I believe no other profession gives you as many.

On this count, it is with a heart full of satisfaction I bid adieu to policing. With the fervent hope though that those in need will still not stop giving me this pleasure to serve even when out of uniform!

850 words: 26.10.2004: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com

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