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An Exceptional Policeman

Sanjoy Bagchi

By Kirpal Dhillon
Penguin Books, Delhi, 2013, pp. 330, Rs. 399.00


In the history of the Indian Police Service, the batch of 1953 must be specially mentioned. A small batch like all others in the immediate post-Independence period it consisted of 37 officers recruited entirely on merit. Since the number was small, only the very best were selected. There were no other avenues available to the bright young men at that time except the civil services. There was no private sector to wean away the bright talents. And merit was not diluted by the lowering of standards in the selection for the sake of accommodating the weaker sections of society. The merit in the selection was reflected by five out of the 37, or one in every seven, daring to unburden themselves in their memoirs. The five form a very high proportion indeed that has not been bettered or equalled since then either in the IPS or in any other Service.   The five were led by the topper of the batch, Anand Verma, who retired as the head of RAW and using his lifetime experience had analysed the two-nation theory in Reassessing Pakistan. Hari Barari who had been the Director of Intelligence Bureau and later Governor of Haryana, wrote a delightful nostalgic account of his native Bikrampur In Sun and Shower. There were others like Julio Ribeiro, Director General of Police (DGP) who wrote about his life as a police officer in Bullet for Bullet, Ramesh Agnihotri, another DGP wrote about his experiences mostly against the insurgents in the North East in his Autobiography of an Unknown Policeman, and now Kirpal Dhillon yet another DGP has produced his memoirs in Times Present & Times Past.   The professional lives of IPS officers in the years after Independence were not very eventful. They spent most of their lives in the districts managing the district force in controlling crime and disorders. Communal riots had declined in intensity after Partition. Even after promotion to the higher ranks, the senior policemen maintained the link with district forces. There were few opportunities outside the State service for most of them, except the selected few who had moved to the Intelligence Bureau. More avenues became available in the sixties of the last century when a number of para-military forces were created to guard the frontiers of the country. These openings provided new opportunities to the IPS officers to function in unfamiliar environments that were different in quality and scope from the traditional ...

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