AUTHORSPEAKS

KHAKI IN DUST STORM

IPS officer Amod Kanth’s book ‘Police Diaries’ is not just a tabulation of events but also a factual behind-the-scenes of the investigations. Kanth talks about his book and says that it explores socio-political impact on crime and terrorism and the unholy nexus between lawmakers, law-enforcers and those who take the law into their own hands. Amod Kanth
Enter Vol.14 ISSUE 7-9 DECEMBER 2020

IPS officer Amod Kanth’s book ‘Police Diaries’ is not just a tabulation of events but also a factual behind-the-scenes of the investigations. Kanth talks about his book and says that it explores socio-political impact on crime and terrorism and the unholy nexus between lawmakers, law-enforcers and those who take the law into their own hands.

For nearly two years, as DGP Arunachal Pradesh, I was preoccupied and travelling all over this vast, often inaccessible, and perhaps India’s most enchanting state; yet, I was able to recollect and muse through more than three decades of police work, re-arrange and read through my documents, and write. I had been doing so in bits and pieces throughout my police career since I was always in the habit of documenting and maintaining my ‘daily dairies’ about my police and other important activities.

These diaries, mostly used as aide mémoir, included descriptions of events, small or big, about meetings and interactions, details of investigations and law and order situations, some of my own and superiors’ guidance on them.

I did so, partly to help in my official work and partly to understand the transactions and issues in depth connecting them situationally and historically with contemporary analysis. This book is entirely the outcome of these facts which have remained as reference points in the public domain; truthful, authentic and exact accounts intermingled with my reflections and views in changing times.

This book begins with the narrative of the early 1980s going through Punjab extremism—Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi’s assassination and my heart-wrenching transformative police and personal experience of 1984 Delhi riots, with day-to-day analysis about the role and predicament of Delhi Police

This volume of my police memoirs, called ‘Khaki in Dust Storm—Police Diaries Book-1’, is more about the tumultuous experience I gathered through my ‘journey in heat and dust’ as an IPS officer, my trials and tribulations during, arguably, India’s most violent decade of 1980s until the 1991, when in the CBI as DIG Investigation (SIT) I had the chance to probe Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

This book begins with the narrative of the early 1980s going through Punjab extremism—Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi’s assassination and my heart-wrenching transformative police and personal experience of 1984 Delhi riots, with day-to-day analysis about the role and predicament of Delhi Police. It divulges the intricate connections of communal and other riots within the political and social environment of the time, giving some clarity to the readers regarding the causal factors of the developments while getting into the historical roots of the happenings.

The trajectory of my experiential narratives moves from the description of the riots to the directly connected accounts of the horrifying terrorist cases rocking the country for several more years after 1984. In quick succession, I investigated transistor bomb blast cases claiming over 80 lives, followed by the political assassinations of Lalit Maken, Arjun Das and General AS Vaidya. This period of 1980s not only witnessed the worst phase of terrorism in Punjab and Delhi, it also simultaneously plagued the society with drugs scourge; I had myriad occasions to deal with this most lethal organised crime, Delhi becoming one of the focal points.

When you have a ringside view of history in the making—and your uniform assigns you a major role in the events as they unfold—then it becomes your duty to record it. This book had been in the making for a long time but started to take shape when ‘Bloomsbury India’ took keen interest. I have tried to give some of the so-far-untold accounts of the earth-shattering events of our times in this series of Police Diaries.

It is not just tabulating the events but also the factual behind-the-scenes of the investigations. I have also brought out my ideas on policing, the socio-political impact on crime and terrorism, and the unholy nexus that exists between lawmakers, law-enforcers and those who take the law into their own hands. I also hope ‘Khaki in Dust Storm’ helps in the continuing evolution of our police organisations from being ‘forces’ to become ‘services’.

A senior police officer on duty, handling law and order, crimes or crisis situations, is not expected to conduct a research, though often it may turn out to be far deeper; one is required to study the situations, since at the senior level she/he is not only an active participant but also someone who is able to introspect and narrate the events or happenings in much wider perspectives. The police officer is expected to examine the legal nuances and relate the same to other stakeholders, colleagues and partakers in the criminal justice system, victims, perpetrators and the community at large. An attempt has been made to contemporaneously examine all these and to understand the changing role of the Indian Police to better serve the needy in the community and to appropriately respond to the changing requirements and legal demands on them.

Part of the story is about my own cathartic evolution as a police officer since I decided to take up police work as a service and not as a member of the force. It only means that the Indian Police by its very character—as it is being practiced and remains in operation in the country—is decidedly not in the mode of a service provider doing good or justice for the people.

During my service, like majority of my colleagues, I found the role as defined within the legal system and within its governing law, the Indian Police Act 1861, something different. The Indian Police was a direct outcome of India’s First War of Independence 1857, called Sepoy Mutiny, intended to serve the British Empire and to keep India under subjugation.

Part of the story is about my own cathartic evolution as a police officer since I decided to take up police work as a service and not as a member of the force. It only means that the Indian Police by its very character—as it is being practiced and remains in operation in the country—is decidedly not in the mode of a service provider doing good or justice for the people

Unfortunately, till date, the conventional policing in India is being managed through the 1861-vintage Indian Police Act and the troika of criminal laws, i.e. CrPC, IPC and Evidence Act, which do not support the police as a service meant for the poor and the socially deprived. In the light of people’s changing aspirations and the so-called social legislations, I attempted to employ the police service for the people, a gateway to my cathartic evolution.

Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre

Society came on my call of duty as an extension of Delhi Police and developed to amalgamate the social work within the police set up. Such experiments have been carried out by several police officers across the country by way of community policing programmes for better interface with the people at large. But, I have always considered this kind of policing with the people not as a peripheral but as the main-stream police work providing direct services, which now appear to be moving towards the centre-stage through media and changing aspirations.

Through these memoirs I have also attempted to explain how neither the profession nor life can be compartmentalised and there has to be harmony and continuity between the two. My hardcore work in Indian Police very much co-existed with my so-called ‘social work’ for nearly 20 years and they developed together, complementing each other. The time has come when the so-called ‘Community Policing’, which may seem to concern the ordinary people and function as bulwark against atrocities on the weak and vulnerable, is already becoming the outcry for long-awaited changes along with reforms in the police. g

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