The Maharashtra Police plans to construct a martyrs’ gallery inside the state police office in Colaba as part of a renovation of the heritage building. The plan is in line with recommendations made at the annual conference of DGPs and IGPs, held in Gujarat last year.
One of the recommendations concerned the subject of police martyrs. The conference stressed that the observation of Police Martyrs’ Day every October 21 be institutionalised “to make it an important, emotional and permanent event”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended the conference, had suggested creating a webpage dedicated to Martyrs’ Day.
“The idea is to put together a story and photograph of each martyr and present them in an audio-visual format in the gallery. We are hoping to get it open as soon as possible,” a police officer said. The state police is working with conservation architect Abha Lambah on the project.
States and Union Territories have until October to set up martyrs’ memorials and undertake other measures to highlight the sacrifice of police martyrs, “including having an educational institution or a road named after a martyr” and design a weeklong calendar of events leading up to October 21.
In Maharashtra, orders had first gone out to each city police commissionerate and district police superintendents in January to collate names of police personnel killed in duty since 1964, with instructions to provide photographs, circumstances leading to their deaths and date of sacrifice.
However, in the space of two months, information on only 301 out of a total 776 martyrs were sent to the police headquarters in Mumbai. (This figure does not include the 15 QRT men killed by Maoists in an IED blast in Gadchiroli on May1). This prompted Pradnya Sarvade, Additional Director General of Police (Administration), to send a reminder on March 15, asking the units which were yet to respond to collect the information “on a war footing”.
When contacted, Lambah said, “It would not be right for me to comment since this is the prerogative of the police department. We have submitted a proposal to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee for approval.”
The present state police headquarters opposite Regal Cinema in Colaba was originally known as the Royal Alfred Sailors’ Home and designed by Frederick William Stevens – his first project in then Bombay for the PWD. It was named so to commemorate the visit of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh to Bombay in 1870, and completed in 1876. After housing officers and sailors for several decades, it served as the state Assembly until the construction of the Vidhan Sabha. In early 1980s, the state police set up its headquarters there.