Reminiscences of a Police Officer

Shivaji Mahan Cairae IPS

I joined IPS on 20.7.1967, at the Academy, Mussoorie. My Grand Mother was opposed to the Police Service; and would not bestow benediction on me unless, I abjured dishonesty, prostitution, gambling and Alcohol; which I did. Mr. M. G. Pimputkar, I.C.S. was the Director of the Academy, whose stress was on punctuality and civilized conduct. We were taught that if a lady served edibles, it was uncivilized to refuse it. We were required to call on our Director and other senior faculty members in groups. At the Director’s residence Mrs. Pimputkar brought whiskey in a tray for us. I accepted it, but looked around, where to empty it. There was no wash basin nearby; so quietly emptied the glass under the carpet; only to be detected next morning. Enquiry pointed the needle at me, so I was summoned to the Director’s office. I accepted my doing and offered to get the carpet dry-cleaned. The Director refused my offer, but asked me why I wasted the liquor? I should have told the lady that I won’t drink. I replied that the etiquettes prohibited me from doing so; as also why I was a teetotaler, on his enquiry. A large-hearted man Mr. Pimputkar, blessed me with a hassle-free career.


I underwent field training at Bhagalpur, Bihar. While undergoing Thana training, my filing of a report u/s 107 Cr.P.C., against the Principal of Sabour Agricultural College and his junior, who happened to be the brother of an S.P. in Special Branch sent tremors to the State H.Qrs. The S.P. Bhagalpur supported my action, and so got marching orders. The D.I.G. Bhagalpur got a report filed by the Circle Inspector contradicting mine, but the S.D.O.(Civil) went by my report and bound them down to maintain peace. This made me feel the importance and power of an impartial and well-meaning field administrator. My action however, saved the lecturer’s life.


As S.P., Sitamarhi, I had to control dacoity along the International border, with the restraint that Indian Police could not operate in Nepal and vice versa. When King Birendra of Nepal granted amnesty to hundreds of criminals during his coronation, the pattern of dacoities on the border changed. The dacoits numbering 400-500 would converge on a village and would ransack it, leaving nothing behind. In the very first case, I saw that the village was devastated just like a field swarmed by the locust. I sought the Mounted Police and dog-squad; formed teams of local officers and men, trained and refreshed their skills in the formation of Village Resistance Groups (VRGs); rounded up stray dogs in town; collected some empty cans and blank forms for obtaining Gun Licenses; and travelled all along the International border. We formed V.R.Gs of the young people (Combat group), left a stray dog and hanged a can in each village. Each team educated the villagers in the technique of combating dacoity collectively. The dog should alert them of the approaching dacoits, the vigilant group should beat the can alerting the nearby villages and hide the women folk with all the valuables possible on the outskirts, and Combat group should take position at a vantage point; to attack the dacoits, when they were either within the firing range or were vulnerable. Where ever there were safe houses we got the forms filled for gun licenses, recommended them at the spot and having understanding with the D.M. got their licenses issued and delivered by hand; and thus, prepared the entire border area quickly for the possible combat. We halted in the remote areas and organized demonstrations by the Mounted Police and Sniffer dogs, and conducted/supervised firing practices on cans hung from the trees in the outskirts. This boosted the morale of the villagers. There were two encounters with the dacoits, where in half a dozen dacoits were killed by the villagers. I went to the spots and rewarded the brave villagers. The result was that the dacoits dared not enter Sitamarhi again.


During this close interaction with public, it dawned on me that the personal staff, out of fear of annoying me, did not allow public to see me. Thus, much good information could not reach me. I allayed their fear by patting them occasionally. One night some villagers came and revealed that a dacoity was being committed in a nearby village and they wanted my help immediately. I also heard sound of gun-shots. I and my staff of five men got ready quickly and with my revolver left for the place of occurrence along with a villager, requesting my wife Anjuli to send behind me the Dy.S.P. By the time we reached the village the dacoits had left. So, I quickly organized a Combat group of about 30-40 young men with Lathis, Bhalas etc.; briefed them about the likely operation and quietly followed the trail of retreating dacoits. Soon, we could hear loud discussion; which appeared to be the dispute on division of booty amongst the dacoits. We quietly surrounded them, and then I fired once at the tree and simultaneously told them loudly, that they had been surrounded by the Police. If they wanted to stay alive, they should surrender—which they did. The Combat group collected their weapons, tied them down with available material and recovered the entire looted property. The Police party with the Dy.S.P. met us on our return journey; where the dacoits were handed over to them for further action. This encounter resulted in solving many old cases also, with the recovery of looted property.




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