P.V. Rajgopal, author and former director of National Police Academy, Hyderabad, is pinning a lot of hope on his new book, “The British, The Bandits and The Bordermen”, which is an autobiographical narrative on iconic police officer K.F. Rustamji.
Described as an eyewitness account of some of the most epoch-making events in Indian history, the book has been culled out from the diaries and articles of Rustamji, who served under the British and was also the founder Director-General of the Border Security Force. The book published by Wisdom Tree highlights the role of the BSF in the creation of Bangladesh.
Rustamji’s eventful life and coherent writing make for this gripping account. His two articles published in a leading newspaper formed the basis for the first Public Interest Litigation filed in the country in 1979 and was responsible for the phenomenon of “judicial activism”.
An Indian Police Service officer of the 1965 batch, Mr. Rajgopal, who spent half his service in Madhya Pradesh and the other half with the Union Government, says it took him three and a half years to complete the book. “From 1998 to 2001, I was the Director at NPA in Hyderabad. During that period, I got a separate cubicle made to store all the books written by police officers. It was around that time that I met Rustamji and sought his permission to publish his diaries. He told me: You shall not ask anybody about my life, but constrict yourself to my diaries and articles,” adds Mr. Rajgopal.
Describing the book as a compilation of historical events as seen by Rustamji, Mr. Rajgopal says: “Since I based it entirely on his writings, I have formatted it as a first person account of the life and times of Rustamji. The biggest hurdle I came across while compiling the book was to write about the BSF years, as in his diaries some entries were sensitive. I then sought help from Golok Majumdar, Ashwini Kumar and B.C. Pande. This book serves as an authentic account of BSF activities.”
His first book “We Did It” was about teamwork and training of IPS officers. The second “I Was Nehru’s Shadow” was also based on the diaries and articles of Rustamji.
According to Wisdom Tree publisher Shobit Arya, it was due to Rustamji’s alertness that Pakistani terrorists’ plans to hijack an Indian Airlines plane piloted by Rajiv Gandhi were scuttled.
“However, another plane was hijacked and taken to Lahore in 1971. A few days after the crews and passengers were let off safely, the aircraft was set ablaze. A month later, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said to Rustamji, “Do what you like, but don’t get caught,” he adds.
Rustamji cashed the blank cheque and helped Bangladeshi freedom fighters.
On Prime Minister Nehru’s birthday in 1959, Rustamji gave him a unique “present” — the news of the killing of the notorious nose-chopping bandit, Gabbar Singh, in full view of hundreds of people. He was such a terror that filmmaker Ramesh Sippy’s super hit film Sholay had Amjad Khan playing the menacing Gabbar Singh, a household name today.