The word 'Police' for me is a place where I grew up. All the windows of my house opened to the majestic building of Police Headquarter of Uttar Pradesh. My memories include manicured lawns, clubs, festivals, tamarind trees, mango orchards and everything pleasant. Neighbours lived cordially as a big family. Nobody was filthy rich as the department is known for bribe n black money.
My father was in civil police, so he
never never wore a uniform. As auditor, sometimes he worked whole night in his office with his colleagues. More than half a month he used to be on tours within Uttar Pradesh of some remote part of India. I went to a Mission school but not to one of the schools, Allahabad is known for. Even at that tender age I knew those schools were expensive for us. I saw my parents working very hard. The affluence associated with people working in police department was not there. Contrary to the image of a policewale, father was a teetotaller. Back from his tours he used to tell us hilarious anecdotes. Never ever I heard him mentioning his boss without respect. Even while talking with his friends casually he never forgot to put the suffix, like DIG Sa'ab.
As I grew up I heard stories of police atrocities and corruption, though hindi films had always projected good picture of policemen. Sholay was a luminous example. I Left PHQ as father got a promotion and transferred to some other department and another city. After that I never heard anything good about the Police.Police ke kutte was the most repeated refrain I heard in day to day life, still my emotional bond with policemen remain intact. Even after three decades I give them a second look where ever I see them. Be it a traffic policeman at a crossing of Chennai in scorching heat, groups of policemen patrolling the crowded streets of Varanasi, at Modi's 2014 rally at Kanpur, Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, posh areas of South Delhi, I always spot them.
When you listen to their stories, you would know that the number of policemen die on duty in a year is equal to the number of army men died in the Kargil War. Do we ever make memorials for them? Do we know that policemen never celebrate Holi and other festivals as they have to be on duty. Today there is peace in Panjab at what cost? The link below is a part of a Kavi sammelan where Mr Pawan Jain, IPS presents a poem about the lives of his fellow policemen which is an eye opener indeed.