KPS Gill – the nation will always mourn loss of this braveheart

A thoroughly insightful man, KPS Gill always believed that if a person has the will, he can do anything. He never used to talk negative about anyone, not even about his worst critics

Photo courtesy: Sadhavi Khosla
Photo courtesy: Sadhavi Khosla

Sadhavi Khosla

How would you describe the loss of a man who helped your country’s highly sensitive belt gain its freedom from militancy? For me, it is shell shocking and extremely disturbing.

It was in the beginning of 2015, when my research on drugs and the thought of writing a book, made me meet the man of courage – KPS Gill. I remember sending him a text message that I am doing some research on Punjab and would need some of his time to help me know the state’s situation through his eyes. I was quite surprised to see his immediate response. He was elated that at least someone wants to talk to him about the land which had his heart, the beautiful Punjab.

Having witnessed the horrors of terrorism myself, during my early childhood in Punjab back in 1988-1995, I had huge respect for the man. For me, he was a real hero who valiantly fought with militancy and kicked it out from my state.

So, when I thought of writing about the plight of my state, the first name to strike my mind was of the fearless KPS Gill.

Before meeting him, I never thought of co-authoring the book with him. In fact, I didn’t go with the thought that he will turn out to be the co-author of the book. I just knew that he was a brain bank, an expert on Punjab and he could be the one who can help me with some genuine information about the state. When our first meeting was about to be concluded, his question “So, when do we start?”, amazed me.

I replied, “Sir, you tell me.”

His response was quick – “Let’s start from tomorrow!”

Although he was honest that when it comes to the latest information on drugs, he wasn’t in the know, but on whichever grounds he could have contributed, he did. He guided me on whom should I meet to know the situation of drug abuse in Punjab and he even helped me meet many people to conduct my research. Later, he also became a part of my documentary- “Fading Glory” and gave several suggestions on eliminating drugs from Punjab.

A thoroughly insightful man, KPS Gill was someone who always believed that if a person has the will, then he can do anything. He was always of the view that Punjab can come out of the problem of drugs, all that the state needs is a strong iron hand that can do so.

He shared with me his experiences with former PM, Late Rajiv Gandhi and how the legend gave him a free hand to handle Punjab’s insurgency. He held Rajiv Gandhi in very high regard and often used to say that the Congress party lost everything, the day Rajiv died.

He used to talk to me about his concern of this country going to one direction, in one party’s hands. In his opinion, it’s not healthy for any democracy to have one party rule. And, so, he was deeply concerned about the Congress party’s failure to revive. Occasionally, he used to ask about Congress VP, Rahul Gandhi and his plans for the revival of the Congress.

My last meeting with him was ten days ago. He was quite unwell that day, and we talked about the Naxalites attacks in Chhattisgarh and how the government there did not cooperate with him and didn’t take his suggestions.

Though with the Congress party winning the recent election in Punjab, he was happy with the fact that the state is going to safe hands. His optimism with Captain Amarinder Singh’s victory was apparent.

I can clearly recall him sharing his experiences with political figures like Prakash Singh Badal. He had also shared quite a few instances when he was called by Narendra Modi in 2002 to be appointed as the security adviser to the state of Gujarat.

The best thing about him was, that he never used to talk negative about anyone, not even about his worst critics. To me, he will always be the man who was friends with everyone – someone who never indulged in disparagement, ever.

His views about Punjab were always reassuring. He was hundred percent sure that militancy will never return to Punjab. Whenever I expressed my concerns about militant attacks on Punjab, be it after the 2016 Pathankot attack or the 2015 Gurdaspur attack, he used to hold firm thoughts. He was adamant in his beliefs that the state will stay safe from militancy.

Exceedingly honest, this man sure had his pride intact, and never wanted to go to anyone on his own. Always convivial and absolutely welcoming, he wanted people to come to him, talk to him and take his suggestions. And, not the other way round.

For the past few years, he was spending a lot of time in Vrindavan, where he was involved in a lot of charitable work as well. I can proudly say that KPS Gill was a true secular figure – much above the delineations of being a Hindu, a Muslim or a Sikh. He used to say, I am an Indian first.

Now, when I try to see him, I recall him being dressed in a well-ironed, crisp, white Pathani suit, usually teamed with a pink coloured Pagdi. Always punctual for his meetings, he used to sit in his library with thousands of books to accompany him, and a large 56-inch television right in front of him, on which he used to catch all the news. Despite of being highly diabetic and having many dietary measures to be followed, he was fond of mutton, and occasionally loved to enjoy his favourite food with a drink alongside.

Whenever I met him, his face used to brighten up. Of late, he started addressing me as ‘Punjab di Sherni’. Punjab – The Enemies Within, was his desire to help people see the reality of Punjab.

His deep knowledge about all the scriptures, be it Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagwad Gita, or Ramayana, made me see his spiritual side. Something that I might have missed, had I not met him in person. He was someone with whom you can talk about anything in the world, at great length. A brilliant orator, his love for literature and his command over the English language was worthy of admiration.

This is how I will always remember KPS Gill, and cherish his memories forever.

I personally feel that, as someone who was given the honour of being “Punjab’s Sher”, KPS Gill failed to get his dues, no matter whether it was because of the human right violations that he had to face, or any other incident. Little did anyone try to think that he was given Punjab at a time when there was no other choice for him to save his land from insurgency. Even today, I fail to comprehend the Government of India’s ineptitude to give this man the honour he deserved, being fully aware of the situation that he was made to handle.

He should have been made a governor of some state. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. The government remained unsuccessful in fully utilising the talent that this man was blessed with. He should have been given a larger role. His regrets of not being able to serve Kashmir will always hound me, for as long as I live.

I truly feel that he is the man who ‘rightfully’ deserved Bharat Ratna, and should be given his dues. It took a man like KPS Gill to free Punjab from militancy, and had he not helped the nation at all the times when he was needed, then we might as well, have been living with the terror of insurgency.

My heartfelt tribute to the Braveheart Hero.

Sadhavi Khosla is a social activist, writer and a political analyst. She co-authored her first book on Punjab’s downfall, ‘Punjab, The Enemies Within’, with late KPS Gill, the former DGP of Punjab.

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