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Proudly remembering police martyrs

Proudly remembering police martyrs


Somesh Goyal

Parades are integral to sikhlai (teaching/learning) in police academies. At the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy nearly four decades ago, we were imparted training in the conduct of the parades held on special occasions such as Independence Day, Republic Day, Police Commemoration Day and Founder’s Day. Such parades showcase rhythm, coordination and teamwork, presenting an attractive spectacle for the audience.

The Police Martyrs’ Day or Commemoration Day is observed on October 21 every year in recognition of the supreme sacrifice made by a small tukdi of 10 CRPF personnel against the marauding Chinese invaders in 1959 near Ladakh’s Hot Springs area in Aksai Chin, situated 15,000-16,000 ft above sea level on the Indo-Tibet border. The bodies of these personnel were handed over by the Chinese three weeks after the incident.

Over 35,000 police personnel from Central and state police forces in India have laid down their lives in the line of duty since Independence, including those who battled against secessionist and militant movements across the country, be it in Punjab, Tripura or the states affected by left-wing extremism. Both the National Police Memorial and National Police Museum are located in New Delhi.

As the DIG, Armed Police & Training, Himachal Pradesh, I was responsible for organising such parades at state-level functions. Sitting in my office one autumn morning, finalising arrangements for the ensuing Commemoration Day, I wondered why the parade was called Shok Parade. The name was inconsistent with the sentiments the occasion evoked in everyone in khaki. Shok means nothing but grief. Was Martyrs’ Day only about grieving for the valiant sons of Mother India who made the supreme sacrifice while defending her territorial integrity and sovereignty? Or was there more to it, such as pride, remembrance, tradition of sacrifice and glory and above all, jazbaa to fight for the country till the last drop of blood and the final bullet in the rifle?

I concluded that shok was a singularly inappropriate name for this occasion and it needed to be changed to Smriti Parade, for smriti is an amalgam of the emotions evoked by the Commemoration Day. The matter was discussed by a committee of senior officers in the police headquarters in Shimla, after which the DGP decided to raise the issue at the next conference of DGPs, where it was thoroughly deliberated upon. Fortunately, the name I suggested was adopted.

Today, the Martyrs’ Day or Commemoration Day parade is rightly called Smriti Parade, conducted not with shoulders drooping in shok but with a sense of gratitude — the heads held high with pride in memory of all those who followed the glorious tradition of sacrifice and duty unto death.

#Republic Day


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