Buzdilon ke ishq mein,
shaida mujhe kyon kar kiya.
Is namard desh mein paida mujhe kyon kar kiya”- जोश मलीहाबादी
[An excerpt from the press satetement of KPS Gill, Former Director General of Punjab Police]
Full text of the statement at the end of the post.
The ongoing ‘trial by media’ of the Gujarat Police Officers, subsequent to the filing of the ‘first’ charge sheet by the CBI in the ‘Irshat Jehan Encounter Case’ is disturbing. One writer went to the extent of a vicious calumny that “The police in Gujarat wear lawlessness as a badge of honour, …” and another branded the Gujarat Police as “KHAKI DEATH SQUADS” .
Reportedly 12 Police officers of Gujarat are indicted and some of them are incarcerated with the very terrorists they fought! Mr. Vanzara, one of the indicted police officer of Gujarat in particular, is accused as the “lynch pin” common to most, if not all the ‘sensational’ encounter cases.
The ferocity of the nearly unprecedented and allegedly unprincipled inquisition of the Gujarat Police, has raised counter-allegations that the Central Govt’s mechanism for investigation and litigation is disproportionately focused against the Gujarat police and also has led to a confrontation between the two central agencies (one for Investigation and the other for ‘Intelligence’). This allegedly is being orchestrated and the attendant attrition has led to the crossing of a Rubicon, wherein the functioning of the apex national Intelligence agency has been severely compromised.
“The spat between the CBI and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has become so openly unseemly that it can only hurt the Indian state’s long-term interests. The IB argument, and a fair one at that, is that its officer exercised his judgment in evaluating certain intelligence inputs; in retrospect one can question or disagree with that judgment but it is an altogether different matter to insist that the IB officials were a party to the Gujarat Police’s cold-blooded conspiracy. Now, out of a sense of organisational loyalty, the IB finds itself having to reveal its hand; reporters are being allowed to “access” the armoire of intercepts, reports” – Harish Khare
To place the current goings on in a historical perspective, it is essential to go back in time to a not dissimilar crisis which confronted the Punjab Police wherein also, a vicious campaign of calumny, hostility and the litigation route was adopted as the most convenient strategy for vendetta against the police. This occurred after the Punjab Police had contributed in significant measure towards the latter part of the Punjab crisis of the 1980’s and ‘peace’ was ‘restored’ in that state.
The case of the then SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu of the Punjab Police (somewhat reminiscent of Mr. Vanzara of the Gujarat police, now) and the classic statement of the then Punjab Police chief KPS Gill, unknown to most Indians, require to become a subject of national debate in the context of the “current trial by media”.
SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu, during the 1980’s, was perhaps the police officer most dreaded by terrorists in Punjab, after K P S Gill. A. S. Sandhu came into limelight for liquidating some top terrorists and restoring peace, particularly in the once terrorist hotbed of Tarn Taran police district in Punjab.
In 1997, nearly a decade after normalcy was restored in Punjab, Punjab Police personnel and especially A.S Sandhu began to be probed by the National Human Rights Commission and the courts, for their alleged excesses during the militancy. What were once touted as ‘achievements’ suddenly became ‘excesses’? Reportedly, SSP A.S. Sandhu faced more than 40 cases of alleged excesses, killings and ‘stage-managed encounters’.
On 23 May 1997, at about 11.05 AM, SSP A.S. Sandhu (52), threw himself in front the Kalka-bound `Himalayan Queen’ and committed suicide; 20 km from Chandigarh. He left behind two daughters and a son besides his wife.
The police recovered a suicide note written by the deceased declaring: “Jalil ho ke jeen to changa hai mar jana” (It is better to die than to live a life of humiliation).
By citing the above, no case is being made out for ‘immunity’ for any member of the Gujrat Police. Nor is it being suggested that there will take place any ‘suicides’. It is only to iterate that the investigations and trials be held, according to the laws of the land, and also considering the special circumstances that prevail in dealing with “Terrorism”, while applying the statutes and also that trials should not proceed according to the processes that are seemingly being improvised on a day to day basis to implicate the Gujarat police personnel.
Two points before going on to KPS Gill’s statement .
1. In 1997, when KPS Gill gave the u/m statement, “Low Intensity Wars” were being fought only in Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. Having somehow dealt with the ‘Punjab Crisis’, the national leadership should have taken note of the existing pattern of the “Low Intensity Wars” in the country, that could only be expected to grow in the future. Unfortunately, they did not and continued to dismiss them as ‘non-military threats’ and the ill equipped police of the states and the Home Ministries (both of the states and the centre) dealt with them. The result is that at present, the “Low Intensity War” Zone has got extended to an area stretching right from W Bengal, through Bihar, Odisha, Chattisgarh right down to Andhra and even Kerala( Maoists) ! But that is another subject all together.
2. In 1997, when KPS Gill gave the statement, he spoke of “We are not far from the edge of the abyss”. But, presently, we are perhaps in a state of free-fall in that abyss. That too is another matter all together.
Now on to “Is namard desh mein paida mujhe kyon kar diya” [ Why was I born in this country where there are no men?] which is an excerpt from the classic statement of former Punjab Police chief KPS Gill on the death of AS Sandhu.
Every word in the statement of KPS Gill, made way back in 1997 is very relevant and significant even. Those of ‘US’ who were young Captains’ and Majors’ during the peak of the ‘Punjab Crisis’ and were involved with it in one way or the other, would be able to better connect with the words of KPS Gill.
HERE’S THE CLASSIC STATEMENT OF FORMER PUNJAB POLICE CHIEF KPS GILL. READ IT AND DECIDE FOR YOURSELF.
“Is namard desh mein paida mujhe kyon kar diya”
I have not called this press conference to express my grief at AS Sandhu’s death. My feelings on this count are between his family and myself. What I have to say today is that we have already given up most of this country to criminals, to corrupt politicians, and to unscrupulous lobbyists who will work with any cause that serves their personal ends, whether criminal, political or secessionist.
Nonetheless, in a country dominated by those who prefer to criticise from the safety of their homes, or the comfort of air-conditioned debating societies at Delhi and Chandigarh, there are still a handful of people who are willing to risk everything including their lives and the lives of their family to protect the unity and integrity of their nation, and the lives of citizen’s terrorised by an utterly unprincipled and merciless enemy.
I can say without reservation that AS Sandhu was one such man.
Tarn Taran, at the height of terrorism was sometimes spoken of as the rocket that would propel Punjab out of the Indian Union. The terrorists influence was absolute; for years, it was virtually out of the control of the civil administration, and even the police had no more than a nominal and symbolic presence there.
It was in such a situation that I was looking for an officer who had the courage to mount an effective campaign against militancy in this militant heartland. I spoke to several officers, and each excelled in the invention of ingenious excuses to avoid the responsibility. When I asked Sandhu if he was willing to go to Tan Taran to put down terrorism, he accepted without hesitation. Some will say that he went there to exploit and enjoy the “power of the state”. But the state, when Sandhu went to Tan Taran, had no power there. I know that he was a hair’s breadth away from death throughout his tenure in the district. I know he never compromised. And yet, he achieved everything I could hope for.
Few, today, understand the significance of what happened in Tan Taran. Had we lost control over the district, Punjab’s secession would have become an inevitability. Had we lost Punjab, Kashmir would certainly have followed. And once this process of fission began, every linguistic, ethnic and cultural group would have raised the standard of revolt. Pakistan would have been celebrating this 50th year of its independence through the realisation of its dream of a balkanised India. Delhi and its “think tanks” would have no hinterland to analyse and exploit. The unending supplies of electricity, food, water, and a cornucopia of goods that keep Delhi’s elite in a state of luxury would have come to an abrupt end. And the Government and the Apex court of the land would probably have presided over a jurisdiction from “Delhi to Palam”. Judges may have still continued to write erudite and exquisitely worded judgements. But they would have no relevance for this country. This country, as we know it, would no longer have existed.
The fact that this scenario appears incredible today is testimony to the achievements of men like Sandhu.
All men are heroes in a time of peace. But those who are heading the self-righteous witch hunt against the officers and men of Punjab police today should ask themselves where they were hiding for 10 years when terrorists roamed free, unchallenged by any but the Punjab police and their comrades in uniform from other services – and a handful of courageous farmers who would not succumb to terror? For 10 years the judiciary remained in a state of unmitigated paralysis in Punjab. Where was their commitment to justice then? For 10 years, the press published on the terrorists diktat- with only a single exception that all of you know of. That is a long vacation for the ‘truth’.
I am not here to defend corrupt or venal policemen. The Punjab police took action against such personnel throughout the period of militancy. Action against deviants must be taken even now. But the distortion and manipulation of legal process that is being resorted to by an utterly compromised ‘human rights’ lobby cannot be supported. This lobby understands the nuts and bolts of the judicial engine, and knows every method of the orchestration of the media and the new tyranny of trial by the press. A police officer can effectively fight their designs only if he has a great deal of money to buy the best legal advice in the country – and only the corrupt have that kind of money. Officers like Sandhu are helpless, and stand abandoned by the state itself which denies them competent legal defence on the basis of rules that were framed a century ago.
A sustained campaign was carried out by the Human Rights lobby against A.S. Sandhu on the Goebbelsian Doctrine that an untruth repeated endlessly becomes the truth. He was supposed to have made a lot of money. Now he is dead, so I would like his detractors to tell us what properties he acquired, what wealth he gathered after he joined service. And a little evidence would be greatly appreciated.
Sandhu was incarcerated without trial for an extended period. An assault was engineered against him in jail. One does not know what happened to his attackers. They have possibly been promoted, or been presented with Saropas. …
I do not, despite these circumstances, justify the action of a proud Jat Sikh committing suicide. But I understand the reasons. This is not the action of a coward unable to face the dangers of life. Sandhu faced more dangers during his tenure at Tan Taran than many brave men could in several life-times. It was not fear that drove him to death. I do not think that the man knew the meaning of the word – it was ingratitude.
It is not, of course surprising that having lost the battle for Khalistan through force of arms, the terrorists and their front men should have exploited the human rights angle to target men like Sandhu. What is unforgivable is that the nation he fought to defend, the people who he risked his life to protect, simply turned away in indifference or joined the crescendo against him, when such a plot was engineered; without checking the merits of evidence, without even giving him the opportunity of a fair trail. What is unforgivable is that the State he served and saved participated in his humiliation.
The Guru Granth Sahib speaks of ingratitude – akirt ghan- as the greatest sin. Let the leaders of Punjab remember the teachings of the Gurus.
The Indian state must start educating itself on how it is to tackle individuals and groups trying to destroy the State. And it must learn how to arm and protect those who put their lives at stake in the defence of India’s unity and integrity.
We are not far from the edge of the abyss. Let this nation beware of the hour when no man will risk his life to protect another or to defend the nation,” Josh Malihabadi once wrote, “Buzdilon ke ishq mein, shaida mujhe kyon kar kiya. Is namard desh mein paida mujhe kyon kar kiya”. When men of courage begin to say this, all hope will die. No people who treat their heroes as we have done can expect to survive.
K P S Gill