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MY MILLION SALUTE TO THE MIGHTY MEN IN POLICE UNIFORM : UNTOLD STORIES OF POLICE

Sajikumar Nair

Can a team of cops trigger a social revolution and make the life of people happier? It can. Often they prove nothing is impossible, if there is a vision for it and blessings of the seniors. We need to stop looking at them through the prism of calibrated constabulary culture and reset our mind to spot the presence of highly educated, socially caring and professionally excellent brains within the force. Media writes only their negative stories and turns their back to the good works of cops.

The moment we hear the word, “police”, a sinful impression about it is created in our mind, thanks to our ignorance or a falsified notion. More than the good sides of the police, or never looking at its good side, we have set a wrongful image for them with prejudice. Right or wrong, the prejudice is strong.s.

Often I think, people have never tried to know the good side of the police, a respectable profession to which people are heavily indebted for many reasons. Only a few other professions show better social responsibility. Alert round the clock, braving every natural calamity and hostile atmosphere, sacrificing personal life sometimes even without holiday for festival celebrations, the cops have no rest ever. The police force never stops moving around. Those with common sense salute them always for their works, which are, but, heavily underpaid.s.

They deserve better care, more respect for their dedication and, of course more for their hard work and competitiveness. A discipline is ingrained in them, so is sincerity. Even under work pressures, they stay highly disciplined. People with different educational backgrounds join the force, some of them, may be as an employment means, but not all. Even if they are unable to make use of their real talent and knowledge under their career circumstance, they cherish good lessons they have learned and try to deliver it as much as possible.

I know personally more than a dozen cops from top to bottom. Each time I happen to meet or talk to them, I end up reflecting about the richness of police HR treasure. In my mind, I salute their sense of responsibility at the conclusion of the meeting. Their uniform fetches greater respect as one talks with them closely. Though habitual wrong doers naturally hate them, we have so many things to learn from them and from their professionalism. I started knowing more inspectors and officers in Navi Mumbai closely during the days of Covid 19. There are police officers, who have been my personal friends for long. Some are newly known to me. From each one of them, I could learn, cops are good human beings with a greater sense of social responsibility, while being highly intelligent and admirably efficient in their job. Some of them use their clout and command as police for nudging people to take more beneficial social initiatives. Mr Sanjay Kumar, IPS, Commissioner of Police, Navi Mumbai is a commendable gentleman, who shows no snobbishness of his high office or showiness of the Indian Police Service regality. An officer who seriously minds the health of his men down the line during the days of the pandemic, Mr Sanjay Kumar keeps his door open for his men for everything they want for their professional excellence. Cops have thousand tongues to praise him with reverence. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Shivaraj Patil is another excellent personality from whom cops down the line and the public have many things to learn.

It is often astonishing, how an Assistant Commissioner of Police like Mr Vinod Chavan, who is active, daring and extremely humane, remains kind hearted, while dealing with tough ones at the other end, as a part of his job. A duty-bound police officer can both be tough and soft according to what the circumstance demands, his nature shows. Another police officer Mr Satish Nigam is an optimist. A knowledgeable officer, Mr Nigam is a perfect cop, whose judgment never goes wrong. A lady inspector, Mrs. Madhu Gorpade is very dynamic and determined. A daring inspector with a high level of integrity, she could be a good lesson for young women. Assistant Commissioner of Police Mr. Kiran Patil is my close friend for many years. He is the first cop whom I found friendship with. I see in him not just a friend, but an all-weather guide with whom I find my time is worth spending. He is the first person from whom I have ever realised that there are kind-hearted people in police also. He is, yet, dynamic in his duty.

Since the Covid19 lockdown in summer this year, I happened to meet more police inspectors and officers more frequently, as I also started visiting police Stations and two police quarantine centers along with a team of Ayurvedic doctors of SIIMSAR. Highly educated police inspectors bring a highly professional culture to the police force. The list of officers whom I know is long. As a person fond of writing blogs and books, I am always in search of the inside of what we see. Gold also doesn’t glitter if it is not brushed.

Most of them are proud of their assignments, which they see as an opportunity to serve people. They see their police duty with a greater social connotation. While checking delinquencies and working for maintaining a good law and order situation in their mandated boundary, they realise they can do more things to bring many good things for people.

From each one, I learn one or the other lessons. I meet them often as a friend. I make friends selectively. People with whom I make friendship also pick up their friends selectively. Friendship is a friendship and work is work. My close relationship with many policemen in the recent time has taught me one thing very importantly. There are highly educated people inside, much higher than what is required for their recruitment.

I am always curious to know what they do other than their cops’ duty. As I came closer to some inspectors and officers, I began to make an assessment of how we used to misconstrue the police culture. Media writes only their negative stories and turns their back to the good works of cops. My visit to various police Stations and open talks with some police officers made me believe inside the uniform there are educated ones, who reached their level after passing a particular competitive test and other multiple fitness tests. Even after their selection they pass through a tough training. They cannot fake their certificate and get the uniform, which may be possible in private firms.

Indeed, each cop is intelligent and well mannered even while being forced to work under pressure and hostile situations, my experience reveals. But why do the public still look at them differently? The answer is simple. We haven't rescued them from our mindset that classifies them being inheritors of the British constabulary. We still do not know the fact of a radical change in our police culture and their successful professionalization, perhaps better than other professions. We look at them through the imperial prism of constabulary. We failed to know the picture is outdated. The police have a new profile.

The force has educated and cultured men daring to take any risk for protecting laymen. Many of them are socially concerned with a mindset to do something good for their society. They are mature enough to understand the concerns of the society. I have specific examples, which are no stories, but lessons, which every individual in a society must learn.

Many of the cops whom I know are well updated and capable of reading the social changes from close quarters. Mr Sachin Rane, who is very fluent in English and head of the Turbhe Police Station is a cop with heart for the society. Other cops like Mr Ashok Rajput, Mr Ajay Langde, who are in charge of Panvel Rural and Panvel City as well as Mr Ravindra Budwante, Mr Shrish Pawar and Mr Kashinath Chauhan are men with a good heart for society inside their uniform. Another cop, Mr Sanjay Patil, in charge of Kamote Police Station, is a graduate in agriculture and praises the agri power of India. “Still I am happy with my uniform,” he says.

When Covid-19 was threatening to spread more rapidly in Navi Mumbai region, these cops worked harder, never minding their own health. Inspector like Mr Nitin Gite, a very sensible and highly caring cop, reached out to people in whatever way he could so that people of his region remained unaffected by the infection. A good helping hand to all people whom he knows, Mr Gite is also a voracious reader. When the Covid-19 was at peak in the region he bought preventive medicine for many of his close friends, paying from his own pocket. These are all easily accessible cops for the public with any grievance or for any help. Mr Amar Desai is not just a cop, but energetic and sensible about society. Cops have a good heart to love the society, a mind to understand the goodness of people and strength to support people in an emergency. Among all, one of the closest known is Mr Pradeep Tidar. Even when working under severe pressure, he keeps his temperament cool and listens passionately to the one who is to be heard, I observed many a time. As a voracious reader, he has good knowledge of many subjects. He has curiosity to know new things and always follows up systematically what he is engaged in until its logical conclusion. He does not leave anything half done.

Once Mr Pradeep Tidar while talking with me recalled, Maharashtra has many dry villages where availability of clean drinking water is a big concern. Villagers used to fall sick of water-borne diseases; some even succumb to the diseases. Mr Pradeep Tidar, Snr Police Inspector of Karghar, hails from one such village. One day, when his friend from native place was talking to him over the phone, the concern of poor water quality and its bad consequences on people's health came up. The friend wanted Mr Pradeep Tidar to take some initiative to end the concern forever. The only solution was to set up a water filtration plant and convenient distribution system with easy access to it for everyone. Mr Pradeep Tidar also felt he must do something for the village that made him reach this level. Quickly he began to search out for a solution and, during his free time, got himself engaged in coordinating with people who could support him in this. He looked for possibilities of setting up an RO based water filtration system under citizens' initiatives. He connected with his batch mates and prominent persons who knew the concern of the villagers for supporting the initiative. Everyone supported the great work. Mr Pradeep Tidar also spent whatever he could. More than the financial contribution, his coordination and initiative counted. In two months, the purified drinking water supply project was ready.

On 30th May, 2016 the then Guardian Minister of Aurangabad Ramdas Kadam inaugurated the unit. Today, the initiative helps all the 10,000 people in the village get enough purified drinking water. The cost of purified bottled drinking water is Rs 5 for 20 liters. On an average, 1500 bottles a day are dispensed through the system installed in the village. The dispenser reads an electro-magnetic prepaid card and fills the bottle as per people’s requirement. A select village committee manages it very well. The project is running well as a financially sustaining model with surplus, despite the supply being at an extremely cheap rate. A great effort of a team fetches 10,000 villagers’ salute, first to the cops along with those volunteers, each time they drink water – a salute to every cop through the great police son of the village.

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