Rustamji two articles in the Indian express proved to be the catalyst and formed the basis for the first public interest litigation filed in India in 1979 and was responsible for the phenomenon of judicial activism in India.
Pakistani terrorist’s plans to hijack an Indian Airlines plane piloted by Rajiv Gandhi were scuttled thanks to Rustamji and other Borderman. However another plane was hijacked and taken to Lahore in January 1971. A few days after the crew and passengers were let off safely the aircraft was set ablaze. A month later Rajiv’s mother Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said to Rustamji do what you like but don’t get caught. He cashed the blank cheque and helped Bangladeshi freedom fighters. The end result the creation of the independent state of Bangladesh in December 1971.
On Prime Minister Nehru’s seventieth birthday in 1959 Rustamji gave him a unique present the news of the killing of the notorious nose chopping bandit gabber Singh in full view of hundreds of people. The very same gabber Singh who is today a household name after the film Sholay once carried a reward of Rs. 50,000 and was known as gabra.
Rustamji averred that the British intelligence must have had information that Jinnah was critically ill with cancer and would not live long. The British Government was apprehensive that if Jinnah died Pakistan would not come into being and its strategic interest in the subcontinent would suffer. Hence in June 1947 the dare for independence was suddenly advanced to 15 August 1947 on a specious excuse. The change in the date led to the tragedy of partition.
K.F. Rustamji an officer of the erstwhile Indian police served under the British during the twilight years of the Raj. He held several important positions in independent India before retiring as the founder director General Border security Force (BSF).
This autobiographical narrative of Rustamji’s is an eyewitness account of some of the most stirring and epoch making events in Indian history. Rustamji maintained a diary on foolscap size paper from November 1938
Onwards when he was posted to Saugor Madhya Pradesh for his initial on the job training. He continued recording his observations with unfailing regularity all through his service career. After retirements from service in 1976 he wrote articles which were published in newspapers and magazines.
Rustamji permitted P.V. Rajgopal former director of the national police Academy Hyderabad to edit nearly 10,000 pages of his writings to bring out his biography Rajgopal has taken excerpts from Rustamji’s diaries and articles to bring out the present volume which is a sequel to the much acclaimed bestseller I was Nehru’s Shadow.
Rustamji’s eventful life and his distinct flair for writing make for a gripping account of the confessions and impressions of this iconic. Figure who continues to be the only policeman to have been awarded the padma Vibhushan India’s second highest civilian award.
P.V. Rajgopal was selected to the Indian Police service in 1965. Half his service career was spent in Madhya Pradesh and the other half with the government of India. He has had a variety of assignments during his thirty six years of service form chasing dacoits in the chambal region to taking measures to save the tiger in the wids of the Madhya Pradesh forests and from collecting and collating intelligence to training IPS officers.
The British the Bandits and the Bordermen is Rajgopal’s third book. His first we did it was about teamwork and the training of IPS officers. The seconds I was Nehru’s shadow was also based on the diaries and articles of K.F. Rustamji.
It is not very often that one comes across a police officer with such a wide array of literary and artistic range from painting (Oil on canvas) and European classical music to the study of Indian temple art and architecture.
Khusro Faramurz Rustamji is accepted as a colossus in the police fraternity. He is the only police officer so far to have been awarded the Padma Vibhushan India’s second higher civilian honor. During his long and illustrious career he was witness to many historical developments in pre and post independent India. This book which is based on his diaries and articles presents a first person account not so much about his police icon himself as about some of those tumultuous developments of our history as seen and experienced and recorded by him.
Rather than presenting a ringside view of history the book is more in the nature of an account of a man who was inside the ring itself as it were and wrote about the bout immediately thereafter. Several decades later Rustamji analyzed the events he witnessed in great detail in his numerous articles. I have harmoniously coalesced both the accounts to present an eyewitness narration of the factual details and an assessment of their historical significance made by him from the safe distance of time and experience supplemented by extensive reading.
This book is based on more than 3,500 pages of his diaries written on a regular basis from November 1938 to December 1970 on foolscap size paper as well as his notes and articles which run into about 7,000 pages of printed and typed material. I depended more on the diaries as they were recorded a day or two after the event and reflect more accurately the factual content as well the mood of the times.
The various posts occupied by Rustamji helped in his involvement with several epoch making events. During the British days there were some administrative services known as the secretary of state services. The Indian Civil Service and the Indian police were two key services among them. Rustamji joined the IP in 1938 and served under the British during the twilight of the Raj for nine years.
Soon after Independence in December 1947 he was involved with the integration of the princely states of Chhatisgarh. A few months later he took part in the Hyderabad Police Action which was ordered by the Government of India in 1948 as the then ruler of the princely state of Hyderabad the Nizam was planning to declare independence from India. Subsequently as deputy inspector general of police in that state he dealt with the first communist insurgency forerunner of the present day Maoist activity.
He was selected to be the Chief Security officer to Prime Minister Nehru in 1952. For six years he functioned as Nehru’s Shadow during the period when Nehru was most active building up India as one country laying the foundation of its economic development and also promoting the newly independent country’s standing in the comity of nations. Rustamji became the inspector General of Police of Madhya Pradesh Police in 1958 and had to deal with the infamous dacoits in the northern areas of the state.
In 1965 at the age of forty nine he was selected to raise the border security force and the young force played a stellar role in the liberation of Bangladesh and the Indo- Pak war of December 1971.
After retirement from the BSF in 1974 Rustamji services were retained as special secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was on the basis of the Rustamji Committee Report submitted by him in July 1975 the Indian Coast Guard and organization that polices the long Indian coast during peace time was set up in February 1977. He was also instrumental in setting up the National police commission in 1977 and was made a member of that commission which recommended far reaching police reforms.
Interestingly it was an ex policeman’s concern for civil liberties which resulted in the filing of India’s first public interest Litigation in February 1979. It was Rustamji two articles in a national daily on the under trails of Bihar that became the subject of the PIL which in due course gave rise to the phenomenon of judicial activism.
I came in contact with Rustamji in 1998 when I was director of the National Police Academy in Hyderabad I asked him why he had never thought of writing his autobiography despite an illustrious career and his acknowledged gift of writing. He replied with a counter question who’s going to read it? I asked him if he would permit me to write his biography. He readily agreed and told me that he would place all his diaries and articles at my disposal.
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