Former Punjab DGP PC Dogra says never go against your conscience and you will live with no regrets
Former director general of Punjab Police PC Dogra, 79, sums up his career in the Indian Police Service and the Indian Army with a simple life lesson: Never go against your conscience.
“If you want to serve the country, join the defence forces. If you want to ensure instant justice to the poor, join the police,” says Dogra, a 1968-batch Punjab-cadre IPS officer.
He had taken emergency commission in the army in 1963. “In the army, there is no place for sho-sha (superficiality). You need to be sincere in your efforts and work hard. Though competition is tough and the job demanding, there is camaraderie and team work,” he says.
“Life in the police is different from the regimented environment of the defence forces. Here, we deal with people from different sections of society. The idealism at the time of joining the police often gets diluted because of power, pelf and other compulsions. It’s best to stay true. Then there are no regrets,” he says.
Ask him the challenges of life in khaki and he jokes: “The biggest fear or punishment for a policeman is transfers.”
TAKE RIGHTFUL STAND
Leading any disciplined force is an honour and the police service involves dealing directly with the powers that be. “Personnel look up to a leader who takes a rightful stand. Politicians don’t interfere when they see there is no self-interest,” he says.
Dogra says he developed leadership qualities at a young age. Though he comes from a humble background from Sattowali village in Jammu’s Ranbir Singh Pura tehsil, he was a bright student with oratory skills that stood him in good stead as he joined student politics in college.
“I studied at the Municipal Board High School in Batala where teachers spent extra hours coaching bright students for free. All they wanted was the name of their institution to shine,” he says.
“Society has given me a lot. My education was supported by scholarships. I’m indebted to the principal who left instructions that I could study in his office after school since my home didn’t have power supply.” Dogra went on to top Gurdaspur district in Class 10.
“I have fond memories of Bhim Sen, my English teacher, whom I would run to greet when he used to walk along the canal. We respected teachers like parents,” he says.
SPIRIT TO SERVE
Dogra was a teenager when he joined the Dainik Prarthna Sabha’s youth wing. “My mentor, Mahashay Gokal Chand ji, would discuss national issues on long walks as early as 4am. With charity, he set up a college, a hospital and an old age home besides ashrams,” he says, adding he imbibed the spirit to serve from him.
Dogra joined the non-medical course at Baring Union Christian College in Batala but developed socialist leanings. He was influenced by nationalist leaders such as Vinobha Bhave and Jaya Prakash Narayan. “I joined Sikh National College in Qadian where I was elected student union leader despite 80% of students being Sikhs. A section of students wanted me to step down as I was a Hindu face but I refused and won hands down,” he says.
He was pursuing masters in English at Government College, Hoshiarpur, when a teacher suggest he join the armed forces. “Even before the written test, we were interviewed and shortlisted by then 11 Corps commander Lt Gen TB Henderson Brooks in Jalandhar.”
On the police front, he says, “Proactive and honest policing is all that works. No politician or influence can sway a strong resolve. Rather, it is respected.”
Dogra went on deputation to the Central Bureau of Investigation as deputy inspector general and was called back to Punjab when militancy was at its peak. He served as IG, Border Security Force, in Jammu and Kashmir before he became IG (intelligence), BSF. He took charge as Punjab DGP in 1997 and retired in 1999.
“Chandigarh is still the best place to settle down in India. It’s a metro without the distances and pollution. Yahan apnapan zyada hai (There is more bonding here) and it’s well-connected,” he says, adding there’s nothing he would want to change about the city. “The traffic congestion is people’s creation and should be addressed,” he adds.
Serve society. Don’t let self-interest come in the way.
A worthy leader is courageous and patient.
Things may be inconvenient but don’t be vindictive.
Join the forces. It’s the best way to serve the nation.