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Tis well said that the Pen is often mightier than the sword.
Ashok Kumar Inspector General, BSF has served the force for 20 years, Kumaon range. He turns writer with his book, “Human in Khaki”, penning down his life experience.
The book comprises of 16 short stories and anecdotes and it is based on real life incidents. The chapters even cover the officer’s caravan from hinterland, district of Kurana, panipat, Haryana to IIT and then finally being a cop.
With personal life examples the officer has really connected well with the readers and his examples unleashes the working of police force, the constraints and as well as myths. It indulges readers and lures them as Ashok Kumar dauntlessly talks about the real life incidents and talk about how an officer can work to utmost under constraints.
The book also talks about issues that afflict modern-day India, such as terrorism, widening of the gap between rich and poor, gender bias and everyday changing human relations.
It’s not a biography nor a series or narcissi, it’s just lose strings attached to bring out a meaningful and inspiring policing and talking about reality with little fictional incidents to give life to the story.
The book has been reviewed by various esteem publication, Hindustan Times, Times of India, The Hindu, Tribune and various vernaculars.
He received the UN Medal for serving in strife torn Kosovo in the year 2001. He was awarded the Indian Police Medal for Long and Meritorious services in 2006 by the President of India.
Awarded the best writer of the year award in 1986-87 at IIT Delhi, he is an avid reader of Hindi, English, Bangla and Russian literature. His other interests include Badminton, Tennis, Riding and organizing sports events.
TIF had a tete-a-tete with the man, the Human in Khakhi.
TIF : “Human in Khakhi”, the name itself speaks volumes. Tell us what was the reason behind a busy IG BSF writing a book?
Ashok Kumar : People usually know the dark side of a police, while I feel being a police has a humane side also as it provides you with ample opportunities to serve and help the victims of crime- to wipe the tears of a victim of rape, of parents whose child has been kidnapped and so on. To bring out the reality of this side and more, I wrote the book.
TIF : When we read about your profile, it is more than just amazing. You have done B.Tech and M.Tech from IIT Delhi and then joined the police service in 1989. Tell us about life before you were in college. Your life before IPS.
Ashok Kumar : I was not a very studious person, but was considered to be brilliant at Maths. I studied in a Govt school where monthly fee was only 10 paisa, it was a postcard from Hindu college Sonepat inviting me to study at their college, that changed my life– I had stood in merit list of Haryana board n they promised extra scholarship, because of which I joined their college and from Hindu college Sonepat I got selected to IIT Delhi.
TIF:Were you from the beginning intent on being in the Police Services? What was your motivation/inspiration to do so?
Ashok Kumar: I had no idea of joining civil services initially. As I told earlier, I came to IIT also by chance. I would say that since I was good at mathematical analysis, I got a chance to enter IITs. There I was all set to be an Engineer. It was only during my Industrial training at Usha Fans Calcutta, that I felt that Engineering was not my cup of tea and I could serve more people directly if I joined Civil services.It was this reason of serving larger humanity that I changed my career..
TIF:Tell us about your family.
Ashok Kumar: My wife Alaknanda Ashok is also an Engineer and a sports person- she is a professor at Pantnagar University and is on deputation to CSIR presently. My kids are good sportspersons. My daughter Kuhoo is in top 5 in the country in under fifteen badminton.
TIF:Wow! A brilliant man and an equally brilliant family! Sir, the common man has various perceptions about the police. What actually is the man in the khakhi like?
Ashok Kumar: Common man’s perceptions about a policeman are mostly based on movies, which are largely incorrect. I feel that a policeman is also as much a part of the society as everyone else. He may be corrupt to the same extent as others in the society are, but he probably is more disciplined and works harder than most of the people in Govt service or in private.Policeman has got a bad name as many times he is asked to do dirty things for various reasons by the representatives of society only. I think he deserves more respect than is usually shown to him.
TIF:If you allow us to touch a very sensitive topic, we would like to know what are your views on the men in khakhi who misuse their position to commit heinous crimes like rape women and take bribes? Don’t you think that the black sheep have grown larger in number over the years?
Ashok Kumar: I agree that there are black sheep in police, but then they are everywhere. Policeman has triple authority as compared to other departments- first is his uniform, 2nd his weapon, and third backing of law- i.e. power to misuse the law.. There is a natural tendency to misuse the power, therefor it becomes the prime duty of senior officers to check such gross misuse of power and punish such black sheep heavily. I feel that such black sheep are not able to go scot-free once their misdeeds come to light. As far as such numbers growing day by day is concerned- I don’t agree , I feel that people are getting aware of their rights and such criminal people have no place in police or in society.
TIF:Tell us some of your experiences in the khakhi!
Ashok Kumar: My whole book is about my experiences- these are real life stories where I have come across victims of rape, murder, kidnapping, extortion etc. The book narrates anecdotes of terrorism as well as corruption and how to take tough action against corrupt people..
TIF:When an offender pays bribe, he is equally guilty as the one taking the bribe. What is one foolproof way to eradicate corruption then?
Ashok Kumar: When the offender gives bribe, he is certainly guilty and he should also be charged under the corruption act, but tragedy is when the victim has to give bribe forcibly—in such cases he should have some protection, as he is already victim of crime and he is forced to offer bribe—those people who are forced to give bribe, should not be booked under corruption act. Eradicating corruption is not impossible, provided there is a strong will power at the topmost level.
TIF:What are your views on the current judicial system in India?
Ashok Kumar: I feel that current judicial system favours the rich heavily- it does not take care of the victims- there are undue delays – it is almost impossible for poor people to get justice.
TIF:Any suggestions for reforms in the Police system?
Ashok Kumar: Basically one major reform that is required is to get the police out of control of politicians. Stability of tenure would be one step, but there is lot more that needs to be done
TIF:If there was one thing you could emulate from Police force of other countries, what would it be?
Ashok Kumar: Civil police that operates in police stations can be given only small weapons , may be we can have only SI level people in Civil police , who are better educated , better behaved and better equipped and use armed forces rarely.
TIF:Describe one day as a “Human in Khakhi”
Ashok Kumar: Usually one day includes meeting about 50 victims of crime or police highhandedness and solving their problems , when I am in District police… 2-3 hours of file work and two three hours of patrolling, meeting the public and the media..
TIF:Your book has received more awards and honors than we can count! How does it feel?
Ashok Kumar: Yes, it always feels great when you get awards, but biggest award is when readers send me mails or post on Human in khaki’s page .. that gives me a real high…