At present, Mumbai Police is neck deep in preparations for the function at which it will bid farewell to those policemen who will retire on May 31. Of the 850 personnel who will reach the retirement age of 58 years in 2019, more than 50%, ranging from constables to assistant commissioners of police (ACPs), will retire on the last day of this month. At a function to which the families of the retiring policemen are invited, the commissioner of Mumbai Police will present wrist watches to each of the 444 retiring policemen and their spouses, a new identity card (as a retired policeman), a citation, a shawl and a coconut.It isn’t unusual for Mumbai Police to see a large chunk of its force retiring on May 31. “To understand this, one must know the popular legend of ‘ek-chhe’ [1-6],” said retired ACP Shivaji Kolekar. The numbers refer to June 1, which on paper is the date of birth for thousands of people who were born pre-Independence or in newly-independent India. “Those days, there were no government agencies in rural areas to register births. Besides, illiteracy and multiple childbirths made parents lose track of their children’s birthdays,” said Kolekar. Since the new academic sessions used to begin on June 1, children born in the 1950s and 1960s were often given June 1 as their birthdays, especially if their parents were unsure about the exact date as per the Gregorian calendar. This practice continued until the 1970s. Dnynoba Jagannath Shinde, who retired on May 31, 2014, as assistant police sub-inspector (ASI), remembers the teacher at his primary school put Shinde’s birthday down as June 1 because his father wasn’t sure about the date. His father was a farmer who had never been to school and though his mother would later, in the 1980s, enrol herself in an adult education program, in 1951, when Shinde was signing up for school, neither parent was sure about his date of birth. “My father told the teacher that I was born on the day it rained after Diwali,” said Shinde, who remembers there were many others in the same situation as him and his father. “The teacher fixed the birthdays to June 1 so that we fit the requirements for admission,” he said.Shinde was later able to find out his real birthday – November 28 – and since 2000, his family celebrates Shinde’s birthday on both November 28 and June 1.Meanwhile, Mumbai Police is in the process of figuring out where to hold the retirement function. “Last year we had booked the Shanmukhananda Hall as over 450 had retired that month. Similar arrangements will be made this year too,” said joint commissioner of police (crime) Santosh Rastogi who was previously handling administration. For smaller numbers, the event is held at either the police club near Azad Maidan or at the Naigaon police headquarters. Rastogi said that despite the large number of retirements, the force is not short of staff, especially in the constabulary. “Last year, we recruited 1,429 constables as against the 900-odd people who had retired,” Rastogi said.