Do think of Police Martyrs
Maxwell Pereira

mfjpkamath@gmail.com

On October 21 law enforcers nationwide observed the Police Commemoration Day to remember colleagues who laid down their lives in the line of duty in the course of the year. Two days later, an IPS officer – Orissa Deputy Inspector General of Police Jaswinder Singh was shot dead by unidentified persons at Laxmipur near Rupakana village in Naxal-infested south Orissa’s Raygada District, after he chased away some people collecting illegal ‘chanda’ for Kali puja festivities, according to reports.

Apparently Jaswinder, DIG of south western range, was stopped on his way from Sunabeda to Padmapur by a group of persons at around noon and asked to pay money. He declined and instead dispersed them. He was fired upon by unidentified persons, was rushed to the state government hospital, but was declared brought dead.
 
Reportedly, to avoid detection, the DIG was travelling in an unmarked car with only two personal security officers armed with AK47s. His identity could not however remain a secret for long though, as along the route he found local goons extorting ‘donations’ from passers-by allegedly for a religious festival and stepped out of his vehicle at different places to stop the goons from doing so. Again at Rupakana he alighted similarly to disperse the illegal extortionists. When he was about to get back into his vehicle he was fired upon. One of the bullets found its mark on his head.

According to local officials he was most probably gunned down by Maoist Naxalites, but investigators are not ruling out the possibility that he may have been shot in retaliation by one of hose he chased away.

I did not know Jaswinder Singh. Even so, it is as if a family member has been lost, from the family of khakhi - each connected with the other through the common bond of desire to serve the nation in the Indian police. I was also familiar with his postings on the IndiaTopCops web discussion forum on which both of us were members. His last posting on the forum was to react to Kiran Bedi’s article ‘Spinning Khakhi’ wherein she had conceptualised Mahatma Gandhi in the role of a police chief reminiscent of the Gandhigiri indulged in in the Bollywood blockbuster ‘Lage Raho Munna-bhai’. The officer had quipped whether Sanjay Dutt’s next venture would be ‘Munnabhai IPS”

From various reports in the media and information posted on IndiaTopCops by colleagues and admirers, one learns Jaswinder(44) - a son to retired Subedar Hazara Singh and his wife Naseeb Kaur hailed from Hoshiarpur, where he completed his post-graduation. He worked as a bank officer before clearing the competitive examination in his first attempt, to join the 1990 batch of the IPS in the Orissa cadre.

Recalls Ramakrishnan Sankaran of the time when Jaswinder had just joined the service at the Police Academy. “He always had a sense of commitment and pride. The leadership displayed by him shows it is very difficult to measure the heart of a champion. Jaswinder makes me feel proud to have been associated with his training.”

A colleague from Orissa police adds: “Jaswinder was a brilliant and gutsy officer who in a short spell of 2 months had created an impact in the area. He had various operation plans to handle the insurgency and was proud of the high morale of the force under him in the difficult Southern districts of Orissa. His visibility was really high, always wanting to be in the thick of things. For another batchmate: “Jassi (as he is popularly called by the 44 RR batchmates), was a livewire who enjoyed enthralling the group and was a willing team member always”.

Across the board there is a sense of shock at the tragic loss – with many in the IPS expressing anguish at his untimely demise at the hands of extremists – indeed a great and grave loss to the nation. Many feel his tragic killing has serious implications to the anti-Naxalite operations in Orissa.

Jaswinder was not killed for his money, nor for offending anyone. He was killed simply because he proudly wore his Khakhi and tried his best to live up to its ideals. There is a lesson here for all. Jaswinder did not ignore or look the other way when he saw violation of law committed before his eyes. Without hesitation he intervened to disperse the extortionists himself, not resorting to the alternative most senior officers in his place would tend to adopt – of merely giving a message to the local SHO or a junior officer that illegal extortion is going on, to get some force and stop them from doing so.

Arvind Verma from the USA writes: “For everyone associated with Khakhi this must come as a reality check. Today, in the country due to the faults of our politicians and administrators those who wear Khakhi are being placed in acute danger. People’s anger against the system and its callousness ends up targeting the police even though the issue does not concern the organization, except for its responsibilities to uphold the law. The organization has been so weakened that everyone wearing khakhi is now vulnerable. As Jaswinder's case shows culprits attack police personnel with impunity knowing that the force lacks the capacity to deal with criminals effectively. A police force that cannot defend its own personnel is hardly going to defend the society and its citizens.

Jaswinder is survived by his family in Jalandhar – wife Paramjit Kaur (a lecturer in a Nakodar college) and 17 year old twin sons, Prabh Simran and Shubh Kamran

24.10.2006: 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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