Friday, 14 March 2008

Book Review: HindustanTimes-PankajVohra: 09 Dec'07 you for you
Hindustan Times
Thursday, December 09, 2007
Non Fiction
With you, for you
Pankaj Vohra, Hindustan Times: December 09, 2007: First Published: 17:53 IST(10/12/2007)

Book: The Other Side of PolicingAuthor: Maxwell PereiraPublishing house: VitastaPrice: Rs 325Pages: 264

Of the many police officers I have known during my professional career as a journalist, Maxwell Pereira always stood out as someone with an eye for details. Like Kiran Bedi and Amod Kanth, he too was a high profile police officer, but one who had developed a distinct style of communicating with the people through the media.

His book is basically a compilation of his experiences as a trainee and then as a successful police officer. Pereira's story winds its way through some interesting incidents, including one featuring a top Congress politician in whose properties there had been a series of mysterious low intensity explosions soon after Rajiv Gandhi took over as Prime Minister. The police eventually cracked the case, and it turned out that the politician, who had aspired for prime ministership but had got sidelined, wanted to attract the then PM's attention.

Pereira records some of his achievements in the capital, including his pivotal role in making traffic flow in a clockwise direction, instead of both ways, at the C-Hexagon of India Gate, a move that eased traffic movement considerably. Then, while outlining his role in getting traffic signals installed at Vijay Chowk, he recounts the story of the dancing cop Inder Singh who would regulate traffic from a pedestal with such regal grace that even Indira Gandhi would acknowledge his contribution by waving out at him.
Periera's observations about the various police chiefs he served under are largely gracious. But he spares no mercy for a boss who’d functioned under the active patronage of the Sangh parivar and sometimes even attended RSS shakhas while serving the police force.

The book includes anecdotes from the time he trained at the Phillaur police academy and was first introduced to the Punjabi way of life.

There is nostalgia when he talks of the first police martyr from the Bhindranwale days, Avtar Singh Atwal, who trained along with him.

Coincidentally, the driver who came to be attached to Maxwell in Delhi for 23 years bore the same name. Periera moves on to his stints in the North-east and Sikkim. He also recounts his positive role during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and mildly laments that while some of his colleagues got gallantry medals, he and his team were overlooked.

The book's foreword has been written by Ved Marwah, perhaps Delhi's most successful police commissioner, who can’t help but betray his fondness for Pereira. During the book launch, Marwah had jokingly remarked that whenever he would ask Pereira to do something, he would be quick to reply done sir, whether it was done or not. This well-written book has brought out several aspects of policing that few know about.

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