IPS IG-CID, MP Police
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he year was 2004. I volunteered to make the annual pilgrimage to Hot Springs on the Indo-China border (approx 350 km north-east of Leh) to remember the fallen central police personnel (CRPF) in whose memory October 21 is observed as the Police Commemoration Day. We were a police party of thirty, drawn from police forces all over the country, led by the then DIG Chhattisgarh, Shri Pawan Deo, and included another IPS officer, Shri Vineet Brij Lal.
Our bus journey started from Chandigarh, going all the way from Bilaspur-Mandi-Manali-Rohtang-Keylong-Sarchu and then on to Leh. Enroute, we passed through a few mountain passes that are among the highest in the world: Bara-lacha La, Tanglang La, Chang La and Marsemik La (the world’s highest motorable pass at 19,000 ft). After a few days of acclimatisation, we then moved on to Pangong Tso (one of the world’s most beautiful lakes), Phobrang, India Gate (not the one in New Delhi), through snow-capped mountains and finally on to Hot Springs.
Visiting the hallowed grounds
I felt like Bhagat Singh who visited Jallianwala Bagh to seek inspiration for fighting against the British. I, too, am visiting the hallowed ground for the police, where for the first time, central police personnel were gunned down by the Chinese in the defence of the nation. I wanted to see firsthand the place and the circumstances which led to this massacre and also experience the conditions prevailing then.
We reached Hot Springs and stayed in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) camp. The altitude was around 17,000 feet. Chilling winds added to the prevalent sub-zero temperatures to make things more complicated. I wondered what kind of men would stay in these godforsaken places day in and day out to defend the country against enemy invasion. It takes a lot of courage, sacrifice and determination just to survive in these places. One could die of hypothermia, frostbite, hypoxia, cerebral edema and a host of other such things, not to mention the enemy. The next day we all paid tribute to the martyrs at the memorial and bathed in the hot springs and started our return journey.
To protect and serve
My heart was heavy at the thought of the many unsung police heroes, who like those ten men at Hot Springs, battle through adversity day in and day out with fortitude, protecting the country from the enemy within. The sacrifice of those ten men and those comrades who fall by the wayside each year is what defines the police: “To protect and serve come what may. Neither hurricanes nor tempests, the highest mountains nor the deepest seas shall deter us from performing our duties.”
Reiterating the message: ‘No one is above the law’
For the most part, the challenges faced by the police are how to reconcile citizens rights with the maintenance of public order and the prevention and detection of crime. The citizens, while expecting the police to be civil, courteous, honest and just, themselves violate the public peace and order. There is also a feeling among the public that the laws are meant for others to obey and do not apply to themselves. Breaking the law and getting away with it is seen as a status symbol. This is a dangerous trend and needs to be curtailed.
As a civil society, we need to send the message that “no one is above the law” both in letter and in spirit. In today’s civil society, moral science has largely taken a backseat. Conspicuous consumption and “get rich quick by any means” has plunged the society into a crime-prone one. In such a scenario, the police is stuck in a catch-22 situation where one is “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”. While protecting the lives and property of the citizens, if the police takes stern action and someone gets hurt there is a call for action against the police and on the other hand if the police do not act, they are criticised for the inaction. The legal protection given to the police while performing their lawful duties must be applied in toto so that the police can act without fear or favour.
Remembering these Bravehearts
The martyrdom of these gallant policemen has been acknowledged by the state government of Madhya Pradesh with the payment of Rs1 crore as a special compensation grant and other dues like extraordinary pensions and compassionate appointments, wherever applicable. Today is the day to remember these martyrs and heroes. May their noble souls rest in peace.
(The writer is a member of the Indian Police Service and the views expressed are his own.)
The martyrdom of six MP police officers
This year, six police officers from Madhya Pradesh laid down their lives in the line of duty.
- ￼The martyr late Shri Amritlal Bhilala, ASI, district Bhopal, was killed on June 28, 2018, while on traffic duty trying to wave down a car being driven by some suspicious characters.
- ￼The next gallant martyr is the late Shri Devchand Nagle, ASI, district Chhindwara, who died on July 25, 2018, while serving an arrest warrant, in a mob lynching led by the warrantee.
- ￼Late Shri Inderpal Singh Sengar, head constable, district Raisen, made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty on September 12, 2017, while trying to apprehend an accused and was killed by the people led by the accused.
- ￼Late Shri Arvind Kumar Sen, head constable, district Alirajpur, made the ultimate sacrifice on December 06, 2017, while trying to apprehend unidentified dacoits and thereby preventing a dacoity.
- Similarly, late Shri Rajbahadur Yadav, constable, district Tikamgarh, was martyred on February 24, 2018, while trying to arrest a proclaimed offender of Jhansi hiding in Tikamgarh.
- ￼Finally, late Shri Balmukund Prajapati, constable, district Chhatarpur, made the ultimate sacrifice on October 20, 2017, while following up on a tip about illegal arms trade from some arms dealers.