He may no longer be with the police, but former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh still has a loyal band of shooters — although of a different kind. Fighting his maiden election as a BJP candidate from Baghpat, Singh is supported by national and international-level shooters from the constituency.
Carrying BJP flags and wearing saffron wristbands, the shooters campaign from door to door, telling people Singh’s vision and support has brought fame to Baghpat. In the last 15 years, the area is reported to have produced the highest number of national-level shooters.
Born in Baraut near Baghpat, Singh was instrumental in setting up a shooting club in Johri village in 1998. He continues to be a patron of the club.
“It was due to his vision that we got the club started. He told me that if we draw the youth to sports, it will prevent them from going astray and help their job prospects as well. As he was posted in Mumbai, he realised politicians and rich businessmen need trained security officers. That is how the club was started,” says Rajpal Singh, his friend and former national-level shooter.
The club claims to have given over 400 shooters to the country. At least 80 of them have got jobs in the Army, ITBP, CISF, Punjab Police, IAF and Railways.
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“We have to thank Rajpal Singh and Commissioner Saab for starting the club. I got admission in Delhi’s St Stephen’s College through the sports quota. Commissioner Saab has done a lot for the people in this area so we will always support him,” says Ravi Jathav, who has represented India at events abroad.
Wajid Ali, who has been campaigning with Jathav, says the Sports Authority of India too helped them. “I was trained by SAI and represented the country in the Asian championship at Doha… Commissioner Saab never forgot his village,” he says.
According to locals, Singh organises a tournament every year. “Singh would donate a month’s salary for the event,” says Rajpal Singh, who counts Rahul Gandhi among his students.
“His daughter Charu Singh, also a national-level shooter, trained in this village. Some years back, he donated her pistol to the club,” he says, adding that the first pistol was donated to the club by Rahul Gandhi. Claiming that Congress MP Naveen Jindal’s two bodyguards are from this village, Rajpal Singh says Mukesh Ambani too had offered to hire the young shooters as his bodyguards.
An hour’s drive from Johri village, Singh is campaigning in Muldera village. “Today, there is a murder reported every day. It is not that the police are ineffective, but their hands are tied by politicians. I am your voice. I will represent you in Parliament,” he tells the villagers.
Back in the car, Singh, who is contesting against RLD chief Ajit Singh, says, “I have a clean image and am known to be a good administrator. My decision to join politics was prompted by the intention to return to my village. I want to thank the shooters for campaigning for me. I think, in a way, they feel obliged to me. Many local youths have got jobs because of the sport. This place has seen no development in the last 30 years. I will bring about the change.”