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“Remain on right side of the Law”

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Book Review

By Ganesh Saili

CRIME, GRIME & GUMPTION                                                    By OP SINGH PENGUIN India Pages 235 Soft cover Rs 499

Be warned! It is the season for khaki. Retired police officers wielding the pen are out in full force. Never before have I reviewed so many memoirs by police officers. This one comes straight from the horse’s mouth. A simple tale begins when a nine-year-old’s father tells him: ‘Never look back at the time gone by,’ and adds: ‘Do your work. Do it diligently. And then move on.’ Those words gripped the author’s mind, as he set out to do his job. Did it diligently. And yes, ‘moved on’.

An alumnus of Allahabad University, appears for All India Examination of the UPSC and gets through. After training at the SVBP Police Academy in Hyderabad, the author is posted to Almora in the hills, where there’s a theft in Binsar, at the bolt hole of Arun Singh, former Minister of State for Defence. QED: a trusted servant has been hocking stuff in the bazaar.

Soon after, he heads anti-terrorist operations in the Terai of Lakhimpur Kheri where he pursues his quarry with ‘we had to do away with all noise. The forest has its own sounds and anything alien would have alerted the probable terrorists.’

For those who are interested there is the ‘how’ about the CISF having a whole other mandate. As the nation’s economic prowess grows, the work of the CISF in protecting the nation’s assets becomes more pronounced. Here, too, the author opens up communication channels with his force. He removes minor irritants that he discovers along the way. As head of the NDRF, he finds himself helping out during the Nepal earthquake of 2015, the Srinagar and Chennai floods of 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Almost lost is the fact that UP is a huge state with a complex caste equation. There are different strokes for different folks depending upon whether you happen to be in east UP or western UP. ‘Your professional ethics and excellence can go for a six if you’re caught in the trap of caste, underworld and politics.’ The author’s seasoned advice to youngsters joining the police force is to ‘remain on the right side of the law and leave the rest to your god.’

The author moves on to wider horizons including heading the NDRF, the CISF and then organising the bandobast of the Kumbh Mela in 2019 which included putting together 30,000 policemen who had to be teetotalers and vegetarians, too! The figures from that 15th day of January are truly staggering: ‘20,000 police personnel, 6000 home guards, forty police stations, fifty-eight police pickets, fifty-eight fire stations, eighty companies of para military and twenty companies of PAC were spread across nine zones and nine sectors into which the Kumbh was divided.’ Nothing could be left to chance when six crore devotees came visiting.

The book makes for a good read.