Ways of the inimitable daroga : The Tribune India

Ways of the inimitable daroga

Ways of the inimitable daroga

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd)

EVERY multi-tier organisation has guys who keep the system going. In the police department, the linchpin is the SHO (daroga). He has a finger on the pulse of the public. My encounters with darogas started early in life. I used to accompany my mother to the fields when I was around five or six. There was a well nearby, where I played while she was busy. A rope-tied bucket had been kept for drawing water. Once, two passing horsemen halted. One of them carried a gun. While the other was drawing water, the ‘gunman’ chatted with me casually.

Our daroga visited the village two days later. It transpired that the two were fugitives and had committed a crime in a neighbouring village. Their escape route had been traced, as also their water halt. Six suspects had been rounded up, but their identification was required. The SHO took my father’s permission to seek my help.

The next day, the police returned with six handcuffed men. The daroga asked me to identify the gunman. I pointed him out, sitting third from left. A few minutes later, I was called in again. This time, he was sitting on the extreme right. It was repeated yet again with their shirts interchanged and seating reshuffled. My identification remained spot on. The daroga patted my back, and I felt proud.

In the 1980s, I was commanding a brigade in Sikkim in the Doklam sector. The Brigade Major of our artillery brigade, while returning from a wargame, had his briefcase stolen from the jonga in Siliguri market where he had stopped for some work. Slides showing our gun positions in forward areas were in that briefcase. It was a security breach and I was called to Binaguri to conduct a court of inquiry.

Before the court assembled, the briefcase had been found. But this needed proof. Recalling my childhood experience, I lined up a few assorted briefcases and separately called the officer’s clerk, his office orderly and the driver to identify the Major’s briefcase.

The Major testified that the Siliguri SHO had helped in recovering the briefcase and confirmed the correctness of its contents. The gun pits had existed for decades and were in the open for all to see. Still, the espionage angle had to be probed. I summoned the SHO as a witness.

In his statement, the SHO mentioned having received an anonymous call. The caller had said the briefcase was lying in an abandoned building. He said no more. However, as per the grapevine, the SHO had released a small-time criminal from the lockup and told him to come back with the briefcase!

The daroga never reveals his modus operandi or his sources. That’s his trade secret — and also the secret of his success.

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