When it was known in police circles that I had decided to accept Kanwar Pal Singh Gill as my number two in the Punjab police, an IPS batch-mate from Madhya Pradesh phoned to warn me against taking such a step. He was sure that KPS would work to dislodge me from my perch. That did not matter to me, because I had not sought the appointment in the first place, and was not enamoured of it. But KPS did finally succeed in leading the police force of Punjab, the state from which his family hailed.
He was the best operations man I ever had, or had come across in my entire career in the police. He had numerous sources that helped him locate the Khalistani terrorists and he would then hunt them down single-mindedly with spectacular success. It was a treat and a revelation to hear him tell the stories of his “kills”. He knew the state and its people well. One day, when we were travelling together by car, we passed a village that he pointed out to me as the one from which his wife hailed.
KPS had an imposing physical presence; he was tall and handsome. He never failed to twirl his moustache. I suspect that the terrorists were mortally scared of him, as were his own officers and men, who would not dare to cross his path. His command extended to the English language, both written and spoken. I was told that he obtained his masters in English Literature and lectured in English at the university level before joining the Indian Police Service in 1957, four years after I did.
It was sad to see and hear him on television last Friday. He was being interviewed by Shekhar Gupta, who had to repeat all that KPS had said, in reply to queries, because he was neither intelligible nor audible. It was obvious that his health had deteriorated quite badly.
KPS always wanted to be remembered as the officer who ended Khalistani terror, and that is exactly how the people of India are going to remember him.