21st Oct. - Police Commemoration Day: ‘Police Day’ Story

Srinivasan Balakrishnan

To be frank, we all have an inbuilt fear for the police, so much so that we hesitate to approach them even in an emergency. It is ingrained in our mind set that it is a dishonour to enter the portals of a police station and also if the police enters our portal. This could probably be due to the portrayal by our films which, however, maybe Ardh Satya. Remember the film by this name of 1983? I never dared to see the Tamil film ‘Visaaranai’ (Investigation) that portrayed a group of immigrants tortured to plead guilty for a crime they didn't commit.However, we have to admit the pressure under which our police work; we have to see the other side of the coin as well. There could also be gentlemen police, like my 1983 Gangtok neighbour, Mr. Laxman Pradhan, who was then Asst. Sub Inspector. A smart but soft-spoken police! So, here is my salute to our police personnel! 

Soon after Independence in 1947, contingents of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were sent to Kutch, Rajasthan and Sindh borders to check infiltration and trans-border crimes from across Pakistan. Subsequently, when attacks were launched by Pakistani infiltrators, CRPF men were deployed on the Pakistan border in Jammu & Kashmir also. Thus, in the early days, one of the most hazardous tasks entrusted to CRPF was on the Indo-Tibetan border, alongside Aksai Chin. Hence from 1953 onwards Leh (Ladakh) and its frontier check posts had been the sacred trust of CRPF. Aksai Chin in Ladakh is situated between 15,000 and 16,000 ft above sea level. The wilderness of Aksai area, the inhospitable terrain, the loneliness of the barren mountains and the icy cold winds did not deter the CRPF men from policing the border day and night. It was on one such day, conscious of the heightened Chinese movement and the danger that lurked around, a small patrol party of CRPF moved out along the border with Tibet.

It was21stOctober 1959 -a platoon comprising 21 men under the command of Sub-Inspector Karam Singh was patrolling the border when it came under heavy fire from automatic weapons of Chinese troops at a place called "Hot Springs". The CRPF patrol party gave a very bold account of itself even though vastly outnumbered by the trained Chinese army having much superior weaponry. Ten jawans laid down their lives in this skirmish- Shiv Nath Prasad, Dharam Singh, Emman Singh, Puran Singh, Narbu Lama, Tshering Bokhu Narbu, Beg Raj Mal,  Makhan Lal,  HangJeet Subba. Of these, the three some - Narbu Lama, Tshering Bokhu Narbu and Hang Jeet Subba – were all from Darjeeling District of West Bengal from Vill.-Cantonment Bazar, PO-Lebong, Village 10 Mil, andVill.-Mombasti, PO-Kalimpong, respectively. Eleven were taken as prisoners. The Chinese returned the bodies of the martyrs only on 13th November at the Sino-Indian border. The bodies were cremated with full police honours at Hot Springs itself at 8 AM the next morning.

The incident made "Hot Springs" a holy place to CRPF and the day a Martyrs’Day and Police Commemoration Day for entire Police Force of the country since 1960.India Post had issued a special postal cover and cancellationto honour this martyrdom.        So, here is a poem dedicated tothe police personnel world over, written by Edgar A. Guest: -

“For Policemen All”

 

Defenders of what’s best and right

Policemen swear to be,

And in the service, day and night,

They’re never peril free.

I know the dangers they must face

And their temptations, too,

Still, from the chief to humblest place,

The failures are but few.

 

Time was long hours with them I shared

Their valorous deeds topen,

I learned back then how much they cared

To serve as honest men.

When with arrest wrong-doing ends,

Though evil was the deed,

I know the prisoner’s powerful friends

For him will come to plead.

 

When one reckless driver stops

As he to do has sworn

The man may speakof all as “cops”

In bitterness and scorn.

But if good citizen were he,

He would at once recall

‘Twas done that streets might safer be

For him and for us all.

 

The cares of him who grows to chief

Are many through the day.

Night may not bring to him relief.

He’s often called away,

There are no stated hours for crime.

This simple truth I tell,

He has to battle all the time

To guard his city well.

 

So to the chief and humblest man

This tribute small is paid

For us they stand on guard and plan

For us unfailing aid.

For us their courage they display

When desperate men draw high

And sometimes, it is sad to say,

For us their bravest die.

 

I am preserving this poem since 1983 when it was circulated by Dy. Inspector General of Police, Sikkim, with the note – ‘The following poem is written by Mr. Edgar A. Guest, an American poet. The poem is dedicated to policemen who died on duty. This copy was received from BPR&D and therefore is being circulated to all.’As a routine, our office (PIB Gangtok) had received it from I&PR Department and this paper was lying with my other papers to be discovered recently. My wife would call these papers trash, to be disposed of to the ruddiwala. So I have locked them up, with the key tied around my waist. Curious to knowabout Indian Police Day, I searched Google which provided valuable background material through CRPF website.

Well, going back in time to 1930, let us see how the British utilised the services of village VIPs to strengthen their vigilance. The District Supdt. of Police of Tanjore (Thanjavur) District had issued certificates appointing my maternal grandfather as a Member of the Pamani Village Vigilance Committee under Tiruturaipundi Police Station/Circle. It is not clear for what period. Neither is my grandfather alive to find out. As I was closely scanning this appointment letter, the way he was addressed as “M.R.Ry.” made me inquisitive. Well, Google had the answer ready even for this -  Maha Raja Rajya! This 90-year-old document is also from my so-called trash.

I gratefully remember the faceless policeman who helped me in 1968. Just 12 years old then, I had come on school excursion to Madras (the present Chennai) to see the World Trade Fair. I got separated from the lot but did not panic. I remembered the school where we were put up. It was near the then famous landmark of Gemini Studios which now stands converted into business & residential complex. So I approached a policeman at the entrance and told him my pathetic story. He made me sit in the right bus near the driver and also told the driver to off load me at Gemini Studios. To the great relief of the conducting teachers, I was Lost & Found, thanks to the policeman! So, here I am writing this story to thank all the police personnel – both women & men and even transgender personnel!