DEHRADUN: Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya, who created history as India's first woman Director General of Police (DGP), died earlier this week after a brief illness. Her memories, however, still live with people.
Bhattacharya spoke to this IANS correspondent a few months ago from her farmhouse in Dehradun. In a candid telephone conversation, she talked about her life and career and also enquired about other officers who had once worked with her but were no longer in touch.
Asked if she has made any mistakeS during her policing career, she said: "I always took responsibility for the mistakes made by my subordinates."
"I remember I was the DGP of Uttrakhand. Some policemen shot dead a woman in Rishikesh and tried to prove that she was a terrorist. The murdered woman was from Roorkee. I dug out the truth and then sent all the culprits to jail after having got a case registered against them.
"Then I went to the house of that woman. I begged pardon from her family members with folded hands on behalf of entire Uttarakhand Police," she said.
Talking about herself, she said: "I fell from my bicycle just a few days ago and hurt my leg. I am bed-ridden now, getting bored with too much of rest. I walk a little bit inside my house. I step out only when I need to see a doctor. My daughters are abroad and husband is in Mumbai looking after his business."
"I am retired from the police department, have no work now. Who wants to talk to an old woman? I liked that you called. I have no responsibility now. I spend time reading books, listening to music and sometimes I watch TV," she said.
She started laughing while speaking, but stopped midway and said: "What is going on in crime journalism these days, I have no clue. No journalist calls me now. I remember the day when I took charge as Uttarakhand DGP. A lot of mediapersons were there. I was standing amidst a sea of reporters. They were throwing questions at me like anything and I was answering all of them. Now, times have changed."
She wanted to know about former Delhi Police Commissioner Ajay Raj Sharma. She also wanted to know about Surendra Singh Laur, an Uttar Pradesh Police officer who had worked under her and retired recently.
"I could not find another honest subordinate like him (Laur) during my entire career. He used to say, send me anywhere you like. Send me to a place where nobody likes to go, I will go." Bhattacharya said.
"The police department is losing credibility these days. The murder of Apple executive Vivek Tiwari by police constable Prashant Chaudhary in Lucknow is a glaring example. It's not that in our times, police did not make mistakes. Important thing is how it was made. I never gave liberty to my subordinates to take law in their own hands. But this does not seem the case today."
She also raised questions about the government's police recruitment policy and asked how a "goon" like Prashant Chaudhary got selected as a policeman. It appears there is currently widespread corruption and nepotism in the police, she said.
Bhattacharya passed away on August 26 at her home in Mumbai.