No less than 208 Punjab police personnel were ‘martyred’ in the one year between September 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. That’s nearly one third of all martyred police and paramilitary personnel in India. Sounds strange?
That’s because Punjab included every cop who died an ‘unnatural’ death — road accidents or other calamities included — in the list sent for Police Commemoration Day organised on October 21 across the country. The list, which was actually meant to include only those killed in the line of duty, has since been revised to just three! The correction, however, came only after the goof-up was even read out by Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
No one noticed that, while Punjab alone had 208 ‘martyr’ policemen, the total number of policemen and central paramilitary forces on the list stood at 642. Punjab did not suffer any major security issues during the period.
Even in the militancy years from 1981 to 1996, Punjab Police suffered 1,415 casualties, with an average of 94 a year.
Rajnath read out the wrong figures on October 21, 2014, at the Police Memorial in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri during the observance of the commemoration day. To make it worse, it was also read out at all district headquarters and other police units across the country during the ceremonial Smriti Parade.
Arpit Shukla, Punjab Police inspector general (IG), administration, told HT that there was “confusion” in the communiqué sent by the Union government seeking the list, so all state police personnel who died unnatural deaths were included. He underlined that the correction has already been made and the list revised to carry three policemen’s names.
Punjab’s figures should have struck as odd at the first glance, as Naxal-affected Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand had 19 police and 18 police martyrs, respectively, while insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir had 16. Among the paramilitary forces, the CRPF suffered 42 casualties during the one-year period.