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Mumbai police to rewrite their own history

india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 22:43 IST
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The history of Mumbai (Bombay) police is all set to be re-written on November 1, this year when state home minister RR Patil inspects the guard of honour at a colorful parade at the Naigaon police grounds to mark the 150 years of the Mumbai police commissionerate, being observed as the ‘Raising Day’.

Joint commissioner of police (Administration), Subhash Avate, who has been given charge as the chief organizer of the event, told HT on Friday that a month-long itenary had been prepared to observe the historical occasion.

The celebrations would begin with a colourful parade at the Naigaon headquarters on November 1 where Patil would inspect the guard of honour. It will be followed by a get-together of officers—serving and retired—slated at the police commissionerate building at the Crawford market in the evening.

This apart, Avate said, a special function of the Crime Branch would be held on November 8 and on November 14 the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) would be presenting their programme.

Moreover, a series of seminars and workshops have been lined up during the month, including the inauguration of the welfare center for policemen at Naigaon police headquarters.

However, old timers in the Mumbai police feel that the observance of the 150 years of the police commissionerate on November 1, this year would amount to re-write the history of the Mumbai police.

This is on account of the fact that the Mumbai police commissionerate, with an ‘Exclusive’ commissioner, was set up on November 14, 1864 with Frank Souter becoming the first ‘independent’ commissioner of the “Town and Island of Bombay”.

In fact, taking that date (November 14, 1864) as the setting stone of the Mumbai police commissionerate, the Mumbai police had observed the 125th anniversary of the commissionerate on November 14, 1989.

Former Mumbai police commissioner V K Saraf, during whose tenure the 125th year celebrations were organized, told HT on Friday “there should not be any dispute over the establishment date.”

Elaborating, Saraf, who had personally invited former President of India Dr. R Venkatraman to inaugurate the 125th anniversary celebrations, said that the date (14 Nov, 1864) was finalized after conducting much research and consultation with historians and old books.

All available records pointed to the fact that the first independent commissioner of Bombay was Frank Souter and accordingly his appointment date marked the beginning of an exclusive Bombay police commissionerate.

Saraf maintained that even the Centenary celebrations of the commissionerate had been observed in 1964 as per that date.

Going by the 125th anniversary celebration date, the 150th anniversary should have fallen on Nocvember 14, 2014.

When pointed out this fact, Avate said that some recent studies, research into the government archival records and a series of orders as well as letters written by the then Governor had established  that the declaration for the Mumbai police commissionerate was made on November 1, 1856 (a year before the Sepoy mutiny of 1857) with W Crawford as the first police commissioner.  He remained the commissioner of Bombay till the year 1864 when Frank souter took over.

On the dichotomy over the exact date of the setting up of the commissionerate, Avate, rather diplomatically, said, “We arrived at the date (Nov 1, 1856) after conducting much research and deliberation. We are nevertheless, celebrating the occasion as the “Raising Day” and not the 150th anniversary.”

Meanwhile, former Deputy Police Commissioner and noted Bombay Police historian, Arvind Patwardhan claimed that the first police commissioner of Bombay was Patrick E Kelly, who was appointed in the post on December 18, 1954.

“That should be treated as the establishment of the Bombay police commissionerate,” said the octogenarian Patwardhan who has authored over half a dozen of books on the Bombay police and was a participant in the 125th anniversary celebrations.