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Pleasantly surprised by a police officer

Pleasantly surprised by a police officer


KC Verma

In 1974, I was a young Assistant Superintendent of Police, posted in the remote Madhepura subdivision in Bihar. While reviewing cases of serious crimes under investigation, I came across an armed robbery that had taken place in the house of a retired railway doctor, who lived on the outskirts of the town. The case did not seem to have been properly investigated, and I wanted to question the inmates of the house.

It was getting dark when I reached the doctor’s house. The place had a large compound, with a path from a latched gate leading to a pretty bungalow. No one came to open the gate when my driver blew the horn. So, he got down and opened the gate. Once we had driven in, I made him stop the vehicle and go back to close the gate.

The doctor was a frail old man, and his wife seemed equally delicate. Both were sitting in the verandah, where an equally old family retainer served them tea. They invited me to join them; I informed them about the purpose of my visit. I chatted with them for almost an hour, exchanging pleasantries, besides trying to elicit information that could help in further investigation. But there was really no new information and, when we drove away, I again got my driver to carefully close the gate after us.

A few months later, I visited the old couple again, but the probe made no progress and meandered to a dead end. I decided to recommend closing of the investigation as there was no hope of solving the case. I visited the couple one last time, more as a courtesy to acknowledge their old-world charm. I was apologetic that the police had neither been able to solve the case nor recover any of the stolen items. I assured them that we had tried our best and there had been no lack of sincerity on our part.

The doctor was all smiles and his wife blessed me affectionately. ‘Don’t worry, son,’ he said, ‘I know you must have tried hard.’ He saw my somewhat puzzled expression and explained, ‘I take your word because you are a gentleman. I knew it the very first time when you came and closed the gate after yourself. I was pleasantly surprised.’

I was glad that I had impressed the old man, though inadvertently, and that too by the ordinary act of closing a gate. But with this feeling of smugness came another thought. Was he as pleasantly surprised when other visitors to his house closed the gate behind themselves? Or was he pleasantly surprised because a policeman had shown the courtesy of closing a gate? I wanted to ask him, but did not. I suspected what his answer would be and did not want to be proven correct.

#Bihar


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