Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday questioned the “indifference” shown by past governments in erecting a national memorial for police personnel who laid down their lives in the line of duty since Independence. Inaugurating a refurbished national police memorial and a museum on the National Police Commemoration Day, the Prime Minister said previous governments at the Centre let dust gather on the files on this subject.
“I am proud of the new police memorial that is being dedicated to the nation today but I have few questions to ask. Why could this memorial not come into being despite over 70 years of Independence?,” he said in his address to policemen, officers, their families and retired personnel.
The National Police Commemoration Day is observed every year this day to pay homage to 10 policemen who were killed in an ambush by Chinese troops in 1959 in Ladakh’s Hot Spring area. The supreme sacrifice by police personnel at the Hot Springs in Ladakh took place about 60 years ago, Modi said. “Why wait for so many years? (to erect a memorial)” the Prime Minister asked.
He said the plan to have a national memorial for slain police personnel was conceptualised during the tenure of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government and in 2002, then home minister L K Advani laid its foundation stone.
“I agree that work was stopped at this facility due to some legal issues but had the earlier governments put in a honest and whole-hearted effort, this memorial could have been built much earlier,” he said.
Instead, the previous governments let the “files gather dust and when we came to power in 2014 we allocated funds for this task and today we are witnessing the reality,” Modi said. “I think probably God has chosen me to do this noble task,” he said.
The Prime Minister said achieving targets on time has become a practice under this government.
He said similar “apathy” was shown by previous governments in building a national memorial for Babasaheb Ambedkar at Alipore Road in Delhi and the Ambedkar International Centre in Janpath, also in Delhi.
Both the memorials were inaugurated by the Prime Minister earlier this year.
“There is a serious question in my mind that why is there such an indifference by the past governments for those who sacrificed their lives for the country,” he said. “This is not our tradition and we are known to hold the unity and integrity of the country even with an empty stomach.”
“I am happy that these memorials are now inspiring the world,” he said, adding that the country will “never forget” the courage and ultimate sacrifice made by the police and paramilitary personnel at the altar of their duties.
He made a special mention of those personnel who help save people hit by natural or man-made disasters and announced a new decoration in the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose for police and paramilitary personnel involved in disaster relief.
He urged policemen to have empathy for people as they were “defence and protectors” to the poor, the abused and the marginalised. “Offering a glass of cold water and saying two sweet words to a person who comes to you will further strengthen the police-public bond,” he said.