Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill passes away

KPS Gill was credited with reining in pro-Khalistan militants in Punjab

Updated - May 26, 2017 09:04 pm IST

Published - May 26, 2017 04:39 pm IST - New Delhi

Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill.

Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill.

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, one of India’s most celebrated cops, passed away in New Delhi on Friday. He was 82.

According to doctors at Ganga Ram Hospital, where he breathed his last, Gill, who was suffering from an end-stage kidnely failure, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

Popularly known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’ and ‘Super Cop’, for the determined and often controversial way in which he put down Sikh militancy, Gill has also been an advisor to Gujarat and Chhattisgarh governments, a hockey administrator, and a prolific commentator on security issues. He was honoured with Padma Shri in 1989 for his outstanding work as a civil servant.

Inducted into the IPS batch of 1958, Gill began his career and achieved much of his initial fame in Assam, where his non-nonsense style of function and aggressive policing earned him both admirers and critics. Controversies became a regular companion of Gill from his Assam days.

Gill returned to his home state Punjab in 1984. He was the Director General of Police for two tenures, from 1988 to 1990 and 1991 to 1995. During his stay in Punjab, Gill played a historic role in putting down the Sikh militancy.

"KPS Gill will be remembered for his service to our nation in the fields of policing & security. Pained by his demise. My condolences," tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Gill stepped up police encounters, increased reward for policemen and informers for killing and spotting militants, which in turn resulted in several alleged atrocities, and also endeared him to the police ranks.

It was in May 1988, during Operation Black Thunder, that Gill truly grabbed national and international attention. The memories of 1984 Operation Blue Star, which caused heavy damages to the Golden Temple, triggered the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and anti-Sikh pogrom, where still fresh in public memory.

Without censoring out the media, Gill carried out the 1988 operation, with very little damages to the Golden Temple, while causing heavy casualties to the militants. Official count said at least 43 Sikh militants were killed and 67 had surrendered.

No Stranger To Controversy

Controversies were part of Gill professional life. Human rights groups documented numerous instances of human rights violations by Punjab police under Gill’s watch. The police illegally detained, tortured and even killed hundreds of young Sikhs, many of them believed to be innocent.

Dead bodies, tied to boulders, were flung into rivers, state police went around the country hunting for those suspected to be militants, and several observers began to write about the police terror unleashed in the state.

When Punjab violence peaked in 1991, the government intervened to bring back Gill as the DGP in 1992. By 1993, violence level had dramatically fallen.

Gill’s firm hand also resulted in Punjab emerging into a peaceful era. And in the process he created a template for anti-militancy operations in the country.

Controversies were part and parcel of Gill’s life. In 1996, a trial court sentenced Gill to three months of imprisonment for sexual harassment of an IAS officer, Rupan Deol Bajaj. Supreme Court later reduced the jail term to probation.

Over the years, Gill’s advice has been sought out by various states, and even Sri Lanka. A couple of months into the post-Godhra anti-Muslim riots, then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi appointed Gill as an advisor to the state government. Gill advised Chhattisgarh government to fight Maoism between 2005 and 2009.

As the President of the Indian Hockey Federation, Gill courted controversies there too

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