From pursuing computer engineering to donning the khaki uniform as an officer of the Punjab Police, the shifting of gears and the choice of profession came all of a sudden and at a heavy cost for Maninder Singh. While the then 24-year-old was planning a future in the corporate word, the fate had some other plans.
“I was in the last semester of my course in 2015, when I was offered the (police) job after my father, SP Baljit Singh, was killed during a terrorist attack perpetrated from Pakistani soil when Dinanagar police station came under attack that year,” says Maninder.
Currently posted as DSP (D) Pathankot, Maninder joined the Punjab Police the next year, becoming fourth from his family to join the state police force.
There’s no regret in his voice as he informs, with a certain pride, that none of the other three family members could retire from the police force. “They all made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. My grandfather, Sub-Inspector Ashar Singh, was gunned down in Moga’s Dharamkot. My father Baljit Singh was inducted in the force after his father’s death in 1986 and rose to the rank of SP before making the supreme sacrifice the Dinanagar terrorist attack,” says Maninder.
His uncle Manpreet Singh, a constable with Punjab Police, was killed in a terrorist attack in Tarn Taran district.
As he paid tributes to the fallen members of his family as well as the other from the force on Police Commemoration Day, Maninder said that such an event should be held twice a year as “families of many martyrs are very poor and need to be visited (by the serving officials).”
Maninder is not the only one to have joined the Punjab Police after losing father in line of duty.
Assistant Inspector General Harbir Singh was seven years old when his father, then Jalandhar Range Deputy Inspector General A S Atwal, was gunned down by Khalistani extremists in April 1983.
Former Punjab DGP (Prisons) MPS Aulakh, who had a stint with Intelligence Bureau in Amritsar from 1982 to 1985, remembers how a military intelligence officer had come to Punjab to arrange a meeting of Atwal with Khalistani separatist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Harchand Singh Longowal. “Atwal was shot dead when he was emerging out of darshani deori at Golden temple. At that time, it was said that there was an opportunity to nab Bhindranwale. But, there was no clearance from Centre,” says Aulakh.
Atwal’s son Harbir was inducted in Punjab Police as inspector in 2002 before graduating to Superintendent of Police (SP/AIG) rank. He is currently posted as AIG (Election Cell and Industrial Security, Mohali).
As Punjab Police marked the 61st Police Commemoration Day Wednesday, Harbir said, “I take it as a matter of pride that our martyrs are being honoured and remembered in this way. It is very very commendable. This is an organisation, which treats me as part of family.”
On Wednesday, Punjab Police paid tributes to its two DIGs, three Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs), 12 Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP), 32 Inspectors, 61 Sub-Inspectors, 112 Assistant Sub Inspectors, 269 head constables, 817 constables, 297 Home Guard jawans and 180 SPOs who made supreme sacrifice for the unity and integrity of the nation. The day is marked by ‘Shok Parades’ in all districts of the country. Most of these men died in line of duty during dark days of terrorism in Punjab.
Ropar SP Ajinder Singh who lost his father, then DIG Ajit Singh, in 1991 in an encounter with terrorists, said, “I am proud of the martyrdom of my father. He died fighting bravely. In an era when everyone is busy, the Commemoration Day is a platform to reach out to families of martyrs to extend every kind of help.”
Ajinder was inducted in Punjab Police as inspector in 2002.
Harsimrat Singh was an infant, all of 20 months old, when his father Avtar Singh Chhetra, then SP (Operations) Tarn Taran, was gunned down by militants in June 1989. Harsimart was inducted in Punjab Police in 2009 after he completed his graduation. “I hail the Commemoration Day as there is no discrimination. Whether it is armyman or a policeman, it is a common platform to honour the martyrdom,” said Harsimrat, currently serving as ACP Jalandhar City.
At a function at PAP Complex, Jalandhar, DGP Dinkar Gupta joined the senior state police official to pay tributes to all such officers who made the supreme sacrifice in line of duty.
Reiterating that “peace and communal harmony has to be maintained in the border state of Punjab”, the DGP recalled “the stellar role of the Punjab Police in preserving the hard-earned peace of the state, besides protecting and safeguarding the unity and integrity of the country.”
“It is a matter of great pride for the Punjab Police that over 2000 Police officers/officials of the State Police had sacrificed their lives in line of duty to protect the unity and integrity of the country,” he said adding, “the supreme sacrifice of these martyrs would always continue to inspire the younger generation of police officers towards their duty of protecting their motherland.”
“On Police Commemoration Day, I join my colleagues in the Punjab Police in paying tributes to the thousands of gallant martyrs who have sacrificed their blood, toil, tears and sweat to keep the country and nation together. We are proud of them, we salute them and bow our head before their noble and brave deeds and sacrifices. On this day, we once again renew our pledge to protect and serve the people of our great country with all that we have,” said Gupta.
The Police Commemoration Day traces its history back to October 21, 1959 when Chinese forces ambushed a CRPF patrol party in Ladakh area and killed 10 jawans. During a meeting of the Inspectors General of Police, then the highest rank in a state police, it was decided to observe the day as Police Commemoration Day from next year.
During the week-long events organized throughout the state, senior police officers of all districts visited the families of more than 1500 such personnel who died in line of duty to enquire about their well being and also presented token gifts to them as a mark of respect and recognition. Other activities included organizing band displays dedicated to police martyrs at prominent public places; candle marches; debates, essay, and quiz competitions in schools; mini marathons / walkathons and cycle rallies; tree plantation drives; uploading short motivational video clips on social media handles of the police; dispalying photographs of martyrs at prominent locations; and getting published stories and articles regarding the heroic tales of martyrs. SSP Patiala, alongwith 25 other police officers, donated plasma in the memory of the slain cops.
The DGP also lauded the bravery of Patiala ASI Harjit Singh whose hand was chopped off by Nihangs while enforcing lockdown besides the sacrifices of constables Jagmohan Singh and Gurmeet Singh, who laid their lives while discharging their duties during the last year.
Expressing his satisfaction over the humanitarian steps undertaken by the Punjab Police for the welfare of citizens, especially during curfew and lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the DGP said that the state force had, while working closely with civil society organizations, served about 12 crore people with dry ration and langar during the curfew period.
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