National Police Memorial and the museum in Delhi is collectively many stories of courage, sacrifice and patriotism. It has come up as a pilgrimage of those who love the Motherland
Nishant Kr Azad & Shaan Kashyap
“If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.” Walk into the newly revamped National Police Memorial, and this thought rings in mind! A giant rock now stands in the memorial dedicated to the valour of our police force. The granite boulder stands firm, and it seems, with a pride. It now belongs to the legacy of the whole nation.
The visitors are pouring in their love to the memorial by coming in large numbers. However, the security personnel who are guarding the memorial are more enthusiastic. The magnificence of the granite boulder on the surface matches the technologically superior underground museum. When the reporters of this story were busy clicking snaps of the ‘Wall of Valour’, a CISF jawan from Uttar Pradesh was quick to intervene. He suggested us to visit the museum first because the closing time was approaching. And when we agreed to enter the museum quickly, he smiled gently.
Similarly, when we came out the museum, another CISF jawan from Assam gently asked, “Kaisa Laga?” (How was it?)
What explains this connection which security personnel are feeling with the memorial? Advait Gannayak, the master sculptor who is the man behind the refurbished memorial, says with a gentle smile, “For security personnel National Police Memorial is a pilgrimage now. The memorial is a real tribute to all the security forces who have laid down their lives in the line of duty since 1947. This memorial is one the most significant examples of Public Art.”
Remarkable in its scale and magnificence, the Police Memorial has already started attracting a lot of visitors. Gannayak also seemed sure about the fact. He delightfully added, “While the public art is not very popular in India comparing it with the rest of the world, but this memorial will attract more people to show their interest in public art.”
Genesis, Scale, Size
Located in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri area, the 6.12 acres (2.48 hectares) memorial consists of a 30-feet (9.1-metre) tall and 238-tonnes (234-long-ton; 262-short-ton) heavy black granite central sculpture, a museum and a ‘Wall of Valour’ bearing the names of all the 34,844 police personnel. The ‘Wall of Valour’ lists the names of all who have laid down their lives in the line of duty since 1947, including 424 policemen and women who died in 2017 However, the making of this magnificent memorial has a long history. The attitude of the Indian State and many Governments reflected severe negligence of the popular demand of the security personnel. The first Police Memorial was conceptualised in 1984. The earlier memorial, a 150-feet structure of steel, was brought down on the order of the Delhi High Court in 2008 because it violated environmental norms. Later, the National Police Memorial was conceptualised when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and in 2002, the then Home Minister, LK Advani, laid the foundation. However, the project again ran into legal troubles and failed to take-off.
However, the unflinching and determined vision of PM Narendra Modi succeeded in realising the demand of security personnel. Unveiling and dedicating the memorial to the nation, PM said, “I am proud of the new police memorial that is being dedicated to the nation today, but I have few questions to ask. Why could this memorial not come into being despite over 70 years of Independence? Why wait for so many years?”
The memorial has already started drawing a huge crowd. Naresh Jha, a visitor to the memorial, said, “For youth, it is a must visit the place. They will surely get inspiration and motivation after visiting the place. I don’t have words to thank the fallen heroes. It’s their selfless love towards the country that makes them offer the supreme sacrifice for us! It’s their bravery, courage, and excellence that makes them special and eligible to serve our motherland. One can know the supreme sacrifices of our jawans by visiting this place.”
National Police Museum
While the magnificent granite boulder stands on the top, below the surface, visitors are introduced to the underground police museum. The complex of the memorial houses the new underground National Police Museum which has exhibits for all the police forces and intelligence agencies in India. One may have never even heard of these government organisations, but they play a crucial role in the security of our nation. Organisations such as the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB), National Security Guard (NSG), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science (NICFS), Railway Protection Force and many others are represented. Each of the 30 States and 6 UTs is also represented, as well as the police dogs.
The museum also has a section for stories related to the police forces which will be updated regularly. The tales of bravery and sacrifice in the line of duty are chilling but ever so inspiring. They range from police operations such as the killing of dreaded Indian dacoit Veerappan to anti-terror operations such as the Akshardham attack in 2002 to the killing of the first woman IPS officer, Ms Vandana Malik, by People’s Liberation Army in Imphal, Manipur.
The moment one enters the museum, long steep gallery welcomes us. It has multiple portraits which depict the history and evolution of security, police, investigative agencies and the rule of law across the period and regions in India. The museum has five galleries focusing on different segments. One can see examples of more than 2, 000 years of policing from the ancient till the recent times. These include the Kautilya system of law and order in 310 BCE, the southern literature on policing and constables in Lanka.
The first display one witnesses after crossing the gallery of history are the rank structure, starting with constables, leading up to Director General of Police (DGP) and Director of Intelligence Bureau.
The next installation on display is dedicated to the forces guarding the border and Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The central protection forces make up most of the next segment, with installations focusing on CISF, SPG, NSG, RPF, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, CRPF and IB.
Weapons are also displayed in the museum. Rifles such as 5.56mm and 7.62mm, 455 bore revolvers and 9mm carbines are expected to be a huge hit among youngsters. The 16,000 sq m museum takes visitors on a walkthrough describing police forces across the whole country.
Preetam, a student of College of Arts (DU) said, “It’s a great feeling to be here. Along with the National Police Memorial, the museum is very interesting and informative. Everyone should visit here and know about the stories of bravery of our police and other security agencies.” He continued, “This is going to be the new attraction of Delhi and I will also tell my friends to come here to know the great contribution of our jawans.”
The maximum crowd was seen, and especially of youngsters, at the segment dedicated to the martyrs and outstanding police cops. Currently, there are nine stories on display, which will be further enlarged. Operations such as Hot Springs Ladakh (1959), Akshardham Attack (2002), Maoists attack Dantewada (2010), and martyrs of Uttarakhand floods (2013) are all well-displayed! There is a special film on 26/11 Mumbai Attacks which visitors get to see on a large display screen with clear audio-visuals. The museum has been curated and designed by Ahmedabad-based Vama Communications.
A Long-Due Demand
Across the police fraternity, there is an expression of happiness and content over the coming up of the memorial. Former Inspector General of Police, BSF Anil Kamboj said, “This was long awaited. The police memorial should have been made before, but it is never too late. Thanks to PM Narendra Modi who led from the front to make it ASAP. The memorial is a big tribute to the unsung police martyrs. The sad part is, no government in the past even initiated to make a memorial to pay tribute to the police personnel who laid their lives in National security since Independence.”
Not only security personnel, even visitors to the memorial feel that such a memorial was a must. DU student Sweekriti added, “This is historical. I simply pay my tribute to all those who saved our lives by giving their lives. It is only because of the jawans we live our lives in peace. It should have been done long ago!”