KPS Gill 1934-2017: Super cop who played by his own rules
A 1958-batch IPS officer of Assam cadre, Gill was moved to Punjab as head of the state police when Khalistan movement was at its peak and the state was hit by a severe form of in-house terrorism. He served as state police chief initially from 1988 to 1990 and then from 1991 till his retirement in 1995.punjab Updated: May 27, 2017 09:07 IST
He inspired awe and revulsion, simultaneously. Super cop KPS Gill, who was credited with crushing militancy in Punjab, is no more. He died at the age of 82 in New Delhi on Friday due to cardiac arrest that followed a brief illness. He is survived by wife, a son and a daughter.
A 1958-batch IPS officer of Assam cadre, Gill was moved to Punjab as head of the state police when Khalistan movement was at its peak and the state was hit by a severe form of in-house terrorism. He served as state police chief initially from 1988 to 1990 and then from 1991 till his retirement in 1995.
For a section of society, DGP Gill was a symbol of fear and for another a hero. A saviour for the terrorist-hit and a reason for revulsion for those active in the ‘movement’, Gill earned the sobriquet of ‘super cop’ for rooting out militancy in Punjab.
Immediately after he was moved to Punjab, he led Operation Black Thunder in May 1988 to flush out terrorists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, around four years after the army’s Operation Bluestar. However, the loss of lives and scale of damage to the shrine in the operation led by Gill was much less.
DECISIVE AND STRONG-WILLED
Known to be a decisive and strong-willed person, Gill played by his own rules and stood by his men who performed in the field, fighting militancy.
“He made police a proactive force and despite a tough battle (against militancy), the motivation among the cops under him was at the peak. Under him, we were a united force. Different lobbies within the force just vanished as he took over. He bought armoury and vehicles to fight terrorists,” said a former police officer, who had worked with Gill and retired from a senior position.
Honours and discredits went side by side for Gill. Awarded Padma Shri award in 1989 for his valour, he was also blamed by certain quarters for extra-judicial killings in Punjab and disappearance of human rights activists Jaswant Singh Khalra, who researched on mass burial of several unidentified people during the era of terrorism.
Author and journalist Khushwant Singh, however, supported Gill’s use of extra-judicial measures to “stamp out terrorism” as, he said in a book review, the judicial system was in a state of collapse, with judges being too frightened to rule against the “terrorists.”
Gill was convicted in 1996 for outraging the modesty of a woman IAS officer, Rupan Deol Bajaj.
He remained president of Indian Hockey Federation for 14 years till 2008, when the body was suspended after the Indian team failed to qualify for Olympics for the first time.
Gill was a man of opinion, who criticised the government for lacking a policy on handling national security issues. He blamed the Centre for soft policy and lack of preparedness against insurgency in different parts of the country.
Known for his proficiency in fighting insurgency, Gill was appointed as a security adviser by the Sri Lankan government in 200 while it was fighting LTTE insurgents. He was later made security adviser by the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in 2002. In 2006, he worked as adviser for the Chattishgarh government to fight naxals.
In his book ‘The knights of falsehood’ published in 1997, Gill wrote in the opening para, “The terrorism (in Punjab) was fuelled by deliberate distortion of message of Sikhism by the Sikh leadership, who seized control of the shrine as final arbiter of the faith, contrary to the message of the Gurus”.
The knight is dead.