At a memorial meeting, the Communist leader said if the former supercop was alive, he would have advised the men in uniform who are making political statements today.
It is not very often that Communists pay compliments to police officers.
That is exactly what Sitaram Yechury, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary, said at a recent memorial meeting for former supercop of Punjab KPS Gill this week in New Delhi.
“They (the Communists) are often seen on the opposite sides of the fence, which I think is an unfortunate perception because it is not correct,” Yechury said in a moving speech.
Yechury described Gill as being ‘completely ruthless’ when it came to execution of an idea, but added that he was a “nek insan’ or a good man.
Yechury also praised Gill’s fearless and forthright views and wished Gill was alive today to weigh in on the recent controversial statements made by the military chief.
“Mr. Gill was one of those who stands out as a very unique police officer and I wish he was around today to give in his own inevitable style a bit of advice to those in uniform who keep making political statements unsolicited today,” the CPM leader said.
Gill’s tough methods during his tenure as the director general of police of Punjab are credited with ending the cycle of deadly militant violence in the state. At 82, he passed away after a cardiac arrest in a private hospital in the capital last month.
Yechury said that Gill cared for the lives of his colleagues and went out of his way to ensure that they were not punished for taking some tough and unconventional calls in their fight against terror.
He recalled a visit that Gill made to his residence in Delhi many years ago to discuss a controversial encounter case in West Bengal against five police officers of the Punjab Police. These officers had not followed the bureaucratic rule of informing the police in West Bengal before carrying out the operation in the state, and were jailed and facing a case in court for this transgression. Yechury’s party was in power in the state.
“That was one peculiar thing about Indian law that police from one state cannot enter the other state without informing the police of other state,” said Yechury. “And if you are a part of a terrorist operation, there is not much time for such bureaucratic file transfers to move through.”
“Suddenly one evening, about 15 years ago when I was returning home, I found the way was littered with policemen all over the place and there were these the black dogs sniffing around,” Yechury recalled. “I asked, “What is happening?” I was told that Gill sahib had come. If Gill sahib has come home, there must be something special.”
He recalled Gill’s words: “I didn’t want to talk to you on phone, or you to come to any other official place. I want to tell you and explain the case.”
Gill said the five policemen’s lives were in danger, they were going to be convicted for fighting terrorism.
Yechury recalled saying: “I will certainly take up the case, Gill saheb, because I don’t think you have any ulterior motives.”
Gill replied: “No yaar, they are my children, it is a matter of their lives, it is a matter of their children.”
Today, Yechury said, he is happy to see that one of the five policemen has risen to the rank of a Director General in Punjab.
“All five of them are doing very well. So, that was our very humble contribution to that entire fight,” Yechury said.
The memorial was organized by Gill’s family members and the speakers included Arun Shourie, Mark Tully, M.S. Bitta, Arif Mohammed Khan and Anupam Gupta.
Yechury also regaled the audience with an incident to highlight Gill’s sense of humor. During one of his visits to Punjab with the former CPM general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Yechury slipped out of a meeting with the police officer, to smoke a cigarette – an innocuous act, but fraught with risk those days.
Yechury said Gill scolded him: “Will you give up your life for a cigarette? What kind of a Communist are you?”
Rajgopal Singh is a Reporter at ThePrint. You can follow him on Twitter @Rajgopal88