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Police Training In Phillaur: Reflections of A Former IPS Probationer Print

K.S. Subramanian IPS (Retd.)


Police Training In Phillaur: Reflections of A Former IPS Probationer


I was a member of the Indian Police Service (IPS) from 1963 to 1997. I was originally allotted to the Union Territories (UT) cadre of the IPS, on my own first preference since I had wanted to serve in the nation's capital. As it happened, I could serve in Delhi only for a short period (1965-67) since I was later allotted to the Manipur Tripura Cadre (1972-1997) after bifurcation of the UT cadre! I had the privilege of being trained in Phillaur during 1964- 1995, on completion training in the Central Police Training College (CPTC), Mount Abu which later shifted to Hyderabad to become the very grand-looking National Police Academy (NPA).

During service, I became a training and research specialist having served in the Intelligence Bureau (IB)'s communist group of Branches which requires a lot of reading, the Research and Policy Division (not RAW!) of the Union Home Ministry (MHA), research work at Oxford and Sussex universities in the UK, fellowships at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, Nehru Memorial Library, New Delhi and so on. In fact, I ended up as the Director General (DG) of the State Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development (SIPARD), Tripura (1993-97) which happens to be my last and best posting! I was also Professor of Public Administration (1991-1993), at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi, a major national training institution Therefore, I feel I can talk with some authority on training matters.

Training in the magnificent Police Training College (PTC, now Punjab Police Academy) in Phillaur, which caters to the needs of training for police officers in the regions of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and elsewhere, was magnificent in every respect. We used to fall in for physical training (PT) at 5. 30 a.m. in the morning, which was followed by drill, class room lectures and games in the evening. One of the main features of training in Phillaur at that time was the cruel afternoon PT, which took the life out of us in the name of toughening us up! Physical training at Phillaur, if anything, was much tougher than in the CPTC and the probationers were made to become a lot more masculine and physical. Police work was viewed in CPTC, Mt. Abu and PTC, Phillaur, basically in terms of physical activity rather than anything remotely intellectual. The result was that in-house training in law and police procedure was generally neglected though we had some very good instructors. Class room lectures were boring and did not convey much of the majesty of the Indian Constitution and the intricacy of the IPC, CrPC, the Evidence Act, the Police Act of 1861 and the elaborate police procedures. The general impression conveyed was that law is an inconvenience in police work and must be reluctantly obeyed. When going to see the District Magistrates the Superintendents of Police we were advised to discreetly leave the cap outside!

The neglect of law is a pervasive in police work in India. During one of my training sessions with IPS officers in the IIPA during my term there as professor I happened to ask them what the basic job of the police was. Most of them replied that the job of the police was to stop violence and that there was no harm in police using violence against Naxalite elements since in any case these elements did not believe in the Indian Constitution and used violence to achieve their ends. Bad training in CPTC, NPA and the state PTCs because no one mentioned the rule of law, the foundation of the Indian Constitution!

In a training session on social tensions held at the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad in the mid-1990s, which I attended as a resource person, some surrendered Naxalites had been invited to narrate their experiences. Some of them gave a graphic picture of how the police had tortured them. The atmosphere in the training hall became tense. Suddenly, a lady police officer from the adjoining NPA who was participating as a resource person in uniform burst out “when I hear you people talk like this, I wish I had brought my revolver”!  The session came to an abrupt end. We came out for tea.  I asked the lady police officer, who was considerably junior to me, “Madam, we are trained in the police to be patient and listen to every one.  Why did you burst out like that”? She was sincere and replied, “Sir, I was a first class first in college. I joined the police to serve the nation. But these people are defaming the nation. How can I tolerate it”? She had a point but she was equating the police with the nation and could see no wrong in police performance. This simple incident showed how poor police training can sometimes be in India!

My experience in Phillaur was wonderful. I became a tough and brutal policeman. Basically a timid and simple south Indian, I clearly remember, on one occasion, beating up a scooter rickshaw wallah who tried to overcharge me without knowing that I was a police officer! I began to change only after joining the IB and began reading communist literature. In the subsequent period, I tried to avoid controversial postings so that I did not get brutalized again.  I remained on the margins of the IPS but did not lose anything by way of promotions. I did not get a major job in the Government of India at the level of DG though I had worked earlier in the IB and the MHA! I did not get the gallantry medal for killing people but was given a meritorious service medal which was good enough for me! I became, I feel, a good police scholar and thinker. My recent book “Political Violence and the Police in India” (Sage 2007) has received much appreciation from academics, human rights activists, policemen and others.

The lesson for me from the training I had in Phillaur and elsewhere is that we in the police have to change a lot! for this, IPS officers, who are the leaders of the service, have a lot of deep thinking and reading to do!.

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