Homiar Nariman Vakil
The term “Police” designates the executive civil force of a State to which is entrusted the duty of maintaining public order and of enforcing regulation for the prevention and detection of crime. The term Police is now used to denote a body of people organized to maintain civil order and to investigate breaches of law.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term was used more generally to denote the internal civil administration of the State or Town including domestic regulation of such matters as taxes, bounties, monopolies and the exclusive privileges of corporation.
All societies need some means whereby order is maintained. There is a remarkable historical, geographical and organizational diversity in the activities of persons who are or have been counted as policemen in any of the countries in the world. Work of policemen as of today is very different from what it was 20 years ago. Many Parsi civilians served in the Police force and have given dedicated services in their career, most of whom, we are not aware of.
The Office of the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, was formally headquartered in 1896 in the present magnificent building made in Anglo-Gothic Tradition of Architecture of Crawford Market and continues there till date majestically. On August 15, 1947 the Police Force charge was officially handed over by Commissioner AE Coffin, the last British Officer to Mr. J.S. Bharucha on Independence Day.
During British Raj Khan Bahadur Kawasji J. Petigara was the first Indian to be appointed as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Bombay on 1st February 1928 which post he held for 10 years. Due to his intelligence and loyalty, he was given title of Khan Saheb. In the course of his duties, he had to arrest great Indian Political leaders during the freedom fighting era. On 8th June 1940, a life size model statute of Khan Bahadur Petigara was erected opposite Kyani Bakery, Dhobi Talao, by public subscription in memory and in appreciation of the valuable services rendered by him to the City of Bombay.
Mr. K.F. Rustomji held important and prestigious post of Director General, Border Security in New Delhi for several years and was in charge of security of all the borders of India. He had made severe efforts to stop smuggling and drug trafficking on the borders of India.
I would like to narrate certain true interesting incidents about Parsi Policeman one of them was DSP in Gujarat i.e. Mr. Kersi Laher, who was very strict and upright in his duties. Once when he was on duty, in his Uniform, wearing medallions giving a Guard of honor and salutation, in an open jeep to Sardar Vallabhbai Patel, with a sword in his hand. After the Guard of Honor was over, one of the minister, whispered in Sardar Vallabhbai Patel’s ears and stated that this is the same Parsi Policeman who had given me two severe blows of Lathi on my head during British Rule, under instructions from his British superiors. This is the proper time to take revenge on him. On hearing this, Sardar Patel got furious on the Minister, stating that he has diligently done his duties and has faithfully obeyed the Orders from his Senior Masters and therefore he should not be punished but on the contrary should be appreciated.
There was another Gentleman in Surat by the name of Mr. Kavas Daruwala who retired as a DSP. During my school days, I had seen him on duty, slapping the goondas outside the theaters who sell cinema tickets in black, slap eve-teasers outside the cinema theaters and strictly enforce discipline. Once when he was going all alone in a police jeep, during the prohibition era, he saw some people selling country liquor and illicit liquor at the corner of the road. He got down from the Jeep with a soti (stick) in his hand, and he single handedly raided the premises and seized crates of illicit liquor and saved the lives of various innocent people. His hand was profusely bleeding and one Parsi gentleman asked him that how can you make out the smell of illicit liquor which was hidden in that extreme corner. Mr. Daruwalla humorously remarked that his surname is “Mr. Daruwalla”.
Mr. Jal Contractor who retired as DCP in Bombay, while on duty applied his presence of mind and controlled a huge morcha of more than one thousand people single-handedly. He simply did not allow them to harass the pedestrians or destroy the shops around Kalaghoda, and has rendered invaluable service to the citizens his time.
One Parsi gentleman’s was pick-pocketed and he lost his wallet containing substantial amount of money and his girl friend’s photograph, while traveling in a crowded BEST Bus. He lost all the hopes of receiving back his money. Mr. Nauzer Maneckshaw investigated his complaint and due to his efforts, succeeded in catching the culprit and the Parsi gentleman got his wallet intact, on the very same day.
It would not be possible, to prepare an exhaustive list of Parsis who served in the Police force, and include all the Parsi Officers in the list hereto but some of the names are as follows:-
Mr. Adi Mistry – Retired as Director General of Police from Maharashtra
The following Parsis served and retired as Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Mr. Framroze Meherji, Mr. Sorabji Kanga, Mr. Burjor Minocherhomji, Mr. Kaikhushru Bulsara, Mr. Savaksha Bodhanwala, Mr. Jal Contractor, Mr. Hector Kothawala.
The following persons retired as Assistant Commissioner of Police in Bombay.
Mr. Nowzer Manekshaw; .Mr. Jehangir Suraliwala, Mr. Maneck Bulsara; Mr. Hormusji Kharas; Mr. Pesi Doctor; Mr. J.B. Jal; Mr. Kurush Kathawala; Mr. Namdar Kermani; Mr. Jimmy Taraporewala; Mr. Naval Taraporewala;
Mr. Soli Contractor, Mr. Minoo Desai, Mr. Sam Patel, Mr. Homi Irani; Mr. Dinsha Zaveri, Mr. Savaksha Dastur, Mr. Pervez Kathawala and Mr. Savak Batliwala, Mr. Coover Bhesadia.
Mr. Dadabhai – Retired as Director General of Police (Gujarat). Mr. Keki Pavri, Mr. Poly Writer and Mr. Jimmy Nagarwala served in Gujarat Police force. There were various Parsis who had served in the Traffic Police Department viz. Mr. Soli Udwadia, Mr. Soli Contractor Mr. Vasania –(Billimora) and Mr. Jimmy Jokhi (Ahmedabad) etc. They use to bash the rash motorists and were very strict in issuing driving license more particularly for the youth so that no accidents would occur in future.
At present the following Parsis are serving in the Police Department in Mumbai i) Mr. Phiroze Ganjia, ii) Mr. Naval Driver iii) Mr. Cyrus Davierwala, iv) Mr. Cyrus Irani and v) Mr. Koyonaz Irani. To my utter surprise, there was a Parsi Constable (Hawaldar) Mr. Zaiwala.
Parsi Policemen are very useful in their services when untoward incidents happen now a days in Agiaries, Doongerwadi and other religious places. Some of the Parsi Policemen whom I had interacted viz. Mr. Jal Contractor, Mr. Jehangir Suraliwala and Mr. Nauzer Maneksha etc. were well versed with the prevailing laws of the land and more particularly the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. They use to attend various Courts thoroughly prepared and with the relevant files and papers chronologically arranged.
One of the most important ways in which the Police are held accountable for the manner in which they perform their duties is through the Courts. The Police making inquiries are under the directions of their superiors or the Magistrate, whose task it is to decide whether there is a case for trial and, if so, what it is. Many Parsi Policemen took action and performed their duties whenever necessary, even if they were out with their families seeking recreation.
The most important point to be considered is the manner in which the police perform their duties at the cost of their lives and without succumbing to any pressures from their superiors. Parsi Policemen were very particular in recording FIRs and they use to do investigation of offences with full dedication. It is unfortunate that such dedicated policemen are diminishing day by day. Presently, due to rapid growth in population of cities and mixture of people, resolving problems of the public are increasingly becoming complex for the policemen.