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Termination of Khalistani terror
His goal was to put a stop to Khalistani terrorism.
Only a Jat Sikh, like him, knew how to handle other Jat Sikhs, who incidentally formed the bulk of the terrorist cadres we were fighting. KPS was certainly not an enemy. We were brothers-inarms, fighting on the same side for the same cause. Besides, nobody, including me, would dare to count among his opponents a man called K P S Gill. Every police officer and man I met in my three years and a half in Punjab was afraid of him, to a greater or lesser extent. Apart from his physical presence, which was imposing, he had the seeds of ruthlessness that his juniors smelt and dreaded. For their own good they obeyed and followed.
When KPS first approached me with his offer to serve with me in the troubled state, I immediately agreed. I had asked many others but none was prepared to risk life or limb. KPS was a master in the operations field. I knew I did not possess that expertise or even the intrinsic ability to hunt down the desperadoes. I could motivate men under my command but not guide them in specific details of intelligence gathering that was essentially required to neutralise the miscreants. KPS was the man for that task. That job I left entirely to Kanwar Pal. He did the job with verve and panache. He really enjoyed it, even enjoyed being harsh at times though on that score I would often differ. I certainly differed from him on the core issue of how this 'nationalistic' form of terrorism could be put to rest.
He was not convinced and hence, not concerned with winning over hearts and minds, which was and still remains the classical method of ending this form of terrorism, as opposed to the ideological form. Yet, KPS will always be remembered as the principal terminator of Khalistani terrorism. And he certainly deserves credit for the masterly manner in which he tackled Operation Black Thunder II, surrounding the Golden Temple for more than a week, forcing the terrorists holed inside to surrender, rather than ferreting them out with guns and mortar. I watched KPS on television last Friday, only a week ago. He was being interviewed by my friend, Shekhar Gupta. I could not follow what KPS was saying. Shekhar had to repeat his words for the audience. I knew instinctively that all was not well with the old warrior.
Role in "Operation Black Thunder"
The death of KPS Gill, a cop's cop, marks the end to an era. Arguably, he was one of the greatest police officers ever and the last of our leaders -a big and strong man with a heart of gold.
What I found most striking about Gill sahib is his sense of history . He was an Assam cadre IPS officer but returned to serve in his native state Punjab as DGP twice, first in 1988 and then in 1991.Had it not been for Gill, the Punjab militancy problem would not have been solved in a timebound manner.
Had Gill been leading Punjab police in 1984, there would have been no need for Operation Bluestar. He had many a time spoken against the Army for mishandling the issue. Had he been in charge, Gill would have carefully gone over the strategy and the adverse impact that Operation Bluestar has had on Punjab and India could have been avoided.
The contrast was evident in Operation Black Thunder conducted when Gill was Punjab DGP .
It was a success: flushing out Sikh militants largely due to out-of-the-box thinking of the `Big Man' Gill.
In his dictionary, there was no such phrase as `can't be done' or `never'.
District SPs were willing to give up their lives for him. It spoke volumes about their faith in his leadership. On his part, Gill did everything to back his officers and was willing to stick his neck out in the process.
Gill thought of things and strategies no one thought of before -one being `night domination', where his officers and policemen would be out tracking militants at night. Following his stint in Punjab, Gill was considered for governorship of J&K. I'm told that then MoS (internal security) was keen to have him in J&K, but Gill insisted he was a man of the field and would rather head the police set-up than be in Raj Bhavan. I'm told that the then governor Krishna Rao almost panicked at the thought of Gill being in charge of J&K police as he would be `uncontrollable'.
Gill sahib was a tough guy with a soft inside. He would never shout at subordinates, as he never needed to. Such was his confidence.
When his officers fell into bad times with cases filed against them in wake of their crackdown on Sikh militancy, he stood by them. He reassured them saying he'd be the first to face prosecution. I never had the chance to work with Gill sahib but we shared an occasional drink. He made a great impact. It was a privilege to have known him.
Political divide over obituary
The first day of Punjab assembly's budget session, reserved for remembering important persons who passed away during the period saw heated exchanges. Sparks flew as Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislators walked out after the government made an obituary reference to super cop KPS Gill.
Gill, who is credited with ending militancy in Punjab, died in Delhi on May 26. Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh had sanctioned a full guard of honour with Delhi and Assam cops by the Punjab government and his funeral was attended by several top Union and state ministers, including SAD's ally BJP. Even as SAD supremo Sukhbir Badal took his 14 MLAs out of the house, the three BJP MLAs remained seated.
SAD chief Sukhbir Badal said Gill's hands were tainted with the blood of innocents. “Gill's tenure as Punjab DGP witnessed gross rights abuses,“ his statement said. “Extra judicial killings were common.“
He said even Amarinder admitted that 21Sikh youths who had surrendered at his instance, had been eliminated. “As leader of the House, Amarinder should have ensured such a controversial figure was not honoured.“
Congress hit back at SAD for turning the death of a decorated former police chief into a political spat. “For a man who finished terrorism, Akali Dal has dishonoured the house and its proceedings by walking out to day,“ the CM said.
“Akalis have nothing to take on the government with and feel cornered in the face of imminent exposure through the white paper (on Punjab's finances) to be released,“ said Congress health minister Brahm Mohindra.
AAP accused SAD of double standards, saying its government had looked after two of Gill's protégés Sumedh Saini was DGP and top cop Izhar Alam's wife was given an SAD ticket from Malerkotla twice.