“It is said that there is no history, only biography. I have written the life story of my father to bring out the ethos of his times,” says Gurbirinder Singh Aujla, former director general of police in Punjab, about his latest book, A Few More Patriots, which is to be released today.
“My father was a man of brilliance, much more than the way history presents him. He belonged to an era that possessed a galaxy of mighty leaders, which is why the lesser known got eclipsed,” he explains about his father, Sardar Sochet Singh Aujla, a member of the Constituent Assembly of India and provisional parliament till February 1952. S
ochet Singh joined service in the princely state of Kapurthala as a deputy superintendent of police in 1934 and soon rose to the rank of inspector general of police before holding other positions of authority till his resignation from the state service in 1948. “My father resigned from service without pension and joined the Praja Mandal movement that ushered his entry to the Indian National Congress at a euphoric moment in the history of the country,” adds Gurbirinder, who has authored two other books— Second To None: A History of the Punjab Police (1995) and Police Training: A Profile (1998), which was also the thesis for his PhD in public administration.
Throwing light on how his latest book’s title came up, Gurbirinder shares, “A letter was sent to my father by S Pattabhi Sitaramayya, president of the Indian National Congress, in 1949 in which he had stated, ‘A few more patriots of the type you represent will serve to elevate, purify and broaden Indian nationalism on a Catholic basis’.” Gurbirinder says his father was a man of many talents.
“A disarming writer, an honest and able civil servant, a courageous administrator of justice, a brilliant parliamentarian and a scotch-drinking scholar of English, Urdu and Persian— he was a harmonious blend of classic and the romantic, of the east and the west.”
Gurbirinder is Sochet Singh’s son from his second marriage. Talking about his father’s personal life, he shares, “The book has a detailed account of my father’s affair with Miss Janak Kumari Zutshi, the daughter of Lado Rani Zutshi. [Janak Kumari Zutshi was Moti Lal Nehru’s sister’s granddaughter and the niece of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru]. Once, over a glass of whisky, my father admitted to me that his relationship with Nehru’s niece was a heady cocktail of intellectual admiration leading to physical attraction and ending in a spiritual fiasco.”
“My father got married the first time in 1919 when he was 14, to my ‘elder’ mother Bibi Bishan Kaur. In 1942, he married my mother Harjit Kaur because after being educated abroad, he wanted a more educated and participative wife. All through, he kept a beautiful balance between both his wives. Never did the women in the house quarrel and I admired him for that,” he says.
Gurbirinder says his father was also his inspiration to enter the Indian Police Service. “He taught me to be forthright and courageous,” recalls the 1970 batch IPS officer who retired from service in 2007 after serving for 37 years. “My father was amongst the lesser known heroes who has been obscured from public memory. He was a man of no mean achievement and deserves to be known and written about. Hence this book,” adds Gurbirinder on an emotional note about Sochet Singh, who passed away in 1976.
Gurbirinder says his book is a must-read for students of history and politics as well as for the layman, who will come across facts that are stranger than fiction, all of them supported by a legion of vintage photographs that are evocative of the ethos of his father’s times.