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Updated: December 6, 2009 16:02 IST

Insider's account

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What started out for K.F. Rustamji, the founder Director General of the Border Security Force, as a way of keeping himself engaged after work ended up becoming his steadfast sounding board during his lifetime and thereafter a minefield of information on modern India; right from the twilight years of colonial rule.

The second of the books Rajgopal has culled out of the diaries and articles of Rustamji, The British, The Bandits and the Bordermen is an insider's account of events that shaped India. Involved in the policing of the Central Provinces and drawn at regular intervals into the innards of decision-making at the national level, Rustamji was actively involved in the Hyderabad Police Action, elimination of dacoits including Gabra — immortalised as Gabbar Singh in the blockbuster “Sholay” — in the Chambal and the liberation of Bangladesh.

Written mostly in first person, the account is candid with Rajgopal even including Rustamji's dalliance with a senior officer's wife in the book. Given that the first book from Rustamji's diaries — I Was Nehru's Shadow — was exclusively focused on his six years as Jawaharlal Nehru's security officer, this sequel is sketchy on this count.

But, the editor more than makes up with a detailed account of how India helped the Bangladesh liberation movement; culminating in the 1971 Indo-Pak War though Rustamji himself had apparently destroyed his diaries from January 1971 to December 1976; purportedly due to the sensitive nature of his meanderings penned without reserve.

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