May 26 marked the death of one of the most iconic police officers of India. Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, or KPS Gill as he was commonly known, was credited with bringing the Punjab militancy under control when he was the District General of Police in Punjab from 1988-90 and 1991-95.
He died of cardiac arrest while undergoing treatment for end-stage kidney failure and ischemic heart disease. He was 82. Here, we bring some significant episodes of his life that are worth remembering:
1. The first job as a police officer in Assam
Source: Indianexpress (representative)
Gill joined the police force in 1958 and was posted in Assam and rose to the position of Inspector General. He was often criticised for his brutal and no-nonsense approach in the field. But his tactics, while controversial, very quite successful, as was evidenced by his rise in rank and reputation.
2. District General of Police for the state of Punjab
Gill served the Punjab police force as District General from 1988-90 and 1991-95 and was credited for bringing the Punjab militancy under control. He ruled decisively and had a free reign from the government. Despite bringing militancy under control, there were blatant human rights violations during this period which saw extrajudicial killings, torture and using bounty system to hunt down militants. He is often praised as well as criticised for his tenure as the DG
3. Fight against LTTE in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan government, in their fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, requested Gill’s expertise. In the subsequent years after the defeat of LTTE, the similarity between the strategies used in Punjab and Sri Lanka pointed to Gill’s contribution.
4. Security Advisor to the state of Gujarat
In the aftermath of Gujrat 2002 riots, Gill was appointed as the Security Advisor. Then Chief Minister Narendra Modi said on his appointment, “It is good to have an experienced person such as Gill as my security advisor. Gill had very effectively tackled the Punjab terrorism problem.” Gill blamed a small group of people for the riots while supporting Modi in the controversy.
5. President of Indian Hockey Federation
One of the most controversial issues regarding Gill was his term as the President of Indian Hockey Federation from 1994 to 2008 when India failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time leading to major restructuring and Gill’s exit. Despite a few successes like gold at 1998 Asian Games, he could not revive Indian Hockey and was blamed for mismanagement such as frequent changing of coaches, disagreement with other senior staff and forcing his way onto others. It must be noted, however, that many coaches speak highly of him to this day and appreciate his efforts.
6. Security Advisor to the state of Chhattisgarh
Gill was appointed as the Security Advisor to the state of Chhattisgarh to deal with Naxal menace in 2006. He blamed the low number of security personnel and incompetent police force for the problem. He did help make some progress but was unable to significantly reduce the Naxal issue as he did not have the same autonomy that he had in Punjab.
Title image: Hindustantimes