THE death of Arvind Inamdar, an iconic police leader of Maharashtra, sometime last month, was mentioned by me in passing. In the 26/11 assault by Pakistan-based LeT terrorists, another highly rated police officer was killed. His name was Hemant Karkare. His memory is revived every year on 26/11 when the Chief Minister and other political and police leaders come to the Police Gymkhana on Marine Drive to pay homage to him and other police personnel who died while performing their duty.
This year, Jui, Hemant’s elder daughter, published her own memories of her father. She talked mostly of her recollections of life with a man who was more than a good son, a devoted husband and a doting father — who was besides an officer and a gentleman. It is a poignant memoir that reveals the character of a principled and just human being who, by any stretch of imagination, cannot fit into the description that the BJP’s MP from Bhopal has tried to publicise.
Any man or woman who had the good fortune to interact with Hemant Karkare will testify to his affability, readiness to help, adherence to the twin planks of truth and justice. Every religion teaches universal values of respect for other human beings, for their person and their property included. Hemant was a good Hindu who did his duty, his dharma. When he found clinching evidence that pointed to Abhinav Bharat members’ ‘role’ in the Malegaon blasts and not the boys earlier arrested by the ATS, he immediately decided that the truth would prevail and that he would do his duty as any good Hindu was obliged to do.
So, also, with Arvind Inamdar. He was senior to Hemant in service by a few years. He rose to be the state’s Director General of Police. In that capacity, his overarching concern was for his men, in particular the junior-most category, the constabulary, that counted for 95 per cent of the force. The welfare and dignity of his junior-most functionary was first in his list of priorities. He fought for their pay structures, their promotion opportunities, the floor space in their official quarters, their medical care and the schooling of their children.
It was Arvind’s concern for their well-being that adhered him to them. They simply adored him. To the general public, he was equally attentive. What do ordinary citizens expect from the service the police are expected to provide? Primarily, justice! And so it was that this intrepid police officer ensured justice to all who approached him with their problems and their complaints. It was what made him so well respected.
A new Home Minister was sworn in when Arvind was the state’s DGP. Now Arvind Inamdar was an outspoken man, very honest in his dealings, unafraid to confront even the highest if necessary. And clash they did! Very soon, he and Ronnie Mendonsa, the Commissioner of Mumbai Police, who was not as combative but equally principled, were ousted. Arvind was sought to be shunted out of the city to Pune to a post sought to be created for some undefined purpose! Arvind, a principled man, resigned!
I come now to the purpose of writing this piece and that is the quality of leadership required to meet the aspirations of the people. The present lot of IPS officers is definitely more intelligent, better informed, better trained in management sciences than those of us who joined soon after Independence and even later. The difference we old hands notice, to our eternal and constant discomfiture, is that their values are radically different.
We, like them, joined because we were in search of jobs in the senior echelons of government. Consciously or otherwise, service came naturally to us. The third letter in IPS stands for Service. We did not need to be told that we joined to serve the people and not to be served.
The police are the first cog in the justice delivery system. When victims of injustice approach the police, they expect to be heard, understood and consoled. If that is denied to them, the delivery of justice, which is what governments are expected to provide, gets derailed from the first stop itself!
I was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1987. I do not flaunt it! I was happy at that time, but now I have come to believe that the real reward for conscientious work is not medals but the respect you command from the people you have served and the men you have commanded. If they greet you on the road long after you retired and remind you of some small good deed, done in the normal line of duty, which should fade from memory soon after it is effected, then that is the real measure of success.
Maharashtra is singularly blessed in boasting of a number of such officers. The percentage has decreased, I admit. With the passage of time, the tendency of politicians in power and serving officers to fraternise in their quest for power or pelf has deprived people of justice. Men like Arvind Inamdar and Hemant Karkare provide rays of hope.
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