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CRPF Senior Commandant (Rtd.) BS Kallur reminisces nostalgic CRPF days

Octogenarian, Senior Commandant (Rtd.) CRPF, BS Kallur has retired from active or formal service long back. But the way he is engaged himself makes even people in their teens ashamed. Despite an eventful career spanning a series of encounters, and threats on life apart from being on the hit list of many ultra outfits, initially, he appeared not interested in sharing his experiences with the pioneer police force. However, after continuous persuasion for several months, he agreed to speak out when requested that his reminisces could be a great source of inspiration and motivation to all those interested in the present generation. Excerpts from his prolonged interaction over a period of time over the cell phone and personal interactions:

Q: Can you brief about your native place and upbringing?

BS Kallur: I was born in Dharwad on 15 February 1942 at my great-grandfather Diwan Bahadur Menasinkai Nana’s house. I had my initial schooling there in the KE Board’s High School. Later I went to the then Bijapur as my father was posted there, where I studied up to Xth standard but did Matriculation from Sardar High School in Belgaum. I also did my BA from Lingaraj College in the same town and also did a one-year special B.Com from Commerce College (now called Gogte College). After that, I went to Bombay to pursue the LLB course. I am a law graduate from Government Law College, Mumbai in 1966. Had I taken up the law profession, I would have perhaps ended up as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Q: In that case, why did you opt for a career in the CRP?

BS Kallur: Interestingly, everyone in the house was a policeman in the form of either a Constable or a Commissioner. So, I too had a similar inclination and joined as a Deputy Superintendent of Police in 1966, selected in 1966 but passed out in 1967. Then I did not know what CRP was. Forget me; even my father who was in the police was not aware of CRP. In India, till 1963 there were only two Forces, one was the Army and the other was the CRP. In fact, CRPF was raised on 31 July 1939 and is known as Crown’s Representatives Police. After Independence, there were roughly 1,500-2000 men and so they thought of disbanding the force because the then Prime Minister was a peace-loving person, a peacenik. But Sardar Patel said-“No. We have a trained force, why should we waste it? We also have central government properties in the states, let them guard them”.

Q: What was the strength of the CRP then and now?

BS Kallur: So, when I joined the service the strength of CRP was 17,000 and today it is nearly 3.5 lakhs. It is spread into the original CRP, CoBRA for anti-Naxal operations, Rapid Action Force for anti-riots, Prime Minister’s security, Parliament security, Special Duty Group and many others all an outcome of the CRPF.

Q: What was the role of CRPF then?

BS Kallur: CRPF was the first force to fight the Chinese because what BSF is doing today was done by the CRPF earlier. They were the Border Guards and were kept in various North Indian princely colonies to keep an eye on them so that they do not go against the British. Simultaneously, they were also assisting in the anti dacoits' operations and it was CRPF which killed Daku Mansingh, who was infamous during his times. CRPF, as I told you is today a very big force and is also known as the backbone of the Government of India.

Q:How about your initial posting and the beginning of your career in the CRPF?

BS Kallur: Well, my initial posting was in Mizoram and namesake we were Class I gazetted officers, but there was not even a vehicle for us. We had to walk, and it could be one kilometre or 100 kilometres or even 300 kilometres. So, in that way, this Bharat Jodo has been done many times by us (he says having a hearty laugh). So, the first ever time I got a vehicle was after six years of my service. A majority of our commanding officers were Army officers, the Lieutenant Colonels and there was no Director General. The big man was known as an Inspector General. So, we all thought that one day we would become Inspector General”, he laughs again jovially.

Q: Where were most of the services done?

BS Kallur: I served for 30 years in the CRPF and most of my, rather 24 years of service were in the North Eastern region, like Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Assam, etc. Due to my good work, I was also shifted to Ajmer for a new raising Battalion. It had hardly done three months spinning and was pushed to Gujarat when the first-ever Hindu-Muslim riots erupted in 1969. At that point in time and now it is also on record that the present prominent leader was an RSS volunteer. He was leading a group of protesters while our boys stopped him and the SSP took them out.

Q: What’s the speciality of the CRPF’s functioning then?

BS Kallur: All the major wars that the Indian Army took over later were initially fought by the CRPF. Everyone talks of the then Prime Minister’s failure in 1962 Chinese aggression. But, he was not a man meant to fight a war. He was under the impression that we are all non-violent people and would not resort to any armed struggle. In fact, the first attempt was made by China in 1959 in the HOT SPRINGS of Ladakh. Our boys fought with the Brigade and 10 boys of the CRPF were lost. So, 21 October, every year is observed as Police Martyrs Memorial Day. It is a salutation to all those policemen who die in action.

Q: In fact, what went wrong then during the Chinese aggression?

BS Kallur: When things were grim hot and India was beaten up as they were not ready and the then Prime Minister was wavering although he was a good man. In fact, in such things, good men are not required as what you need is a fighter under those circumstances. But, unfortunately for him, he had a Defense Minister, who misguided the former. And, also it is well known that he was a Communist most of the time.

Q: You mentioned that the then Armed Forces then meant only the Army and the CRP. What do you like to hint at?

BS Kallur: I am also reminded of the instance when the CRPF fought the Pakistan Army on the international borders of Gujarat on Sardar Post, near Kutch-Bhuj. But in 1965 the major attack took place prior to the major attempt by Pakistan in 1948 in the now-known as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), even then the CRPF fought. But, since Jammu and Kashmir did not accede to India and it was under attack, the then Kashmir Maharaja Harisingh signed in favour of Pakistan. But in 1965, you must remember CRPF was guarding the Gujarat borders when a Brigade came from Pakistan and attacked. At that point in time, it was the CRPF, which fought the Pakistan Army.

Q: Looking back how was your assignment in the trouble-torn North Eastern region?

BS Kallur: I served in North East India, right from day one in Muzo Hill, a District of Assam, to subdue the Mizo National Front (MNF), the underground militant outfit led by Lal Denga’s ‘K-Battalion'. But, later, on his becoming the CM, of Mizo Ram, I had to stand at attention to salute him...See the paradox! I did 3 postings in Nagaland, Manipur, handling the “underground, hostile elements as CRPF convoys were targeted by them, routinely, with the knowledge of topography and heights of the hills. They are tough fighters and have long been neglected by the Governments in succession. But, the North Eastern population is simple and nice, just wanting to live in peace. The brainwashing of Hill Tribes by the white missionaries, made them collect and form their own land calling it “the land of Jesus”.

Q: How were the salary and emoluments?

BS Kallur: We, in uniform, lived far cut off, in bunkers, bashas, and under canvass, thus easily targeted. My pay on joining was Rs 325 /- pm. Later, I got a 150 Rs special allowance, for the Class - I, gazetted job. From Mizo Ram, I was posted to Ajmer in the 51 raising Battalion, hardly had it done its basic training, I was pushed to handle the infamous communal Gujarat riots of 1969... en route moved to Baroda.

Q: How was your posting in Manipur on the Burma Borders?

BS Kallur: I did my specialized weapons and Tactics course at the BSF Academy in Indore, which was much better training. On return, I joined 51 Bn, in newly formed Himachal Pradesh to control the Non-Gazetted Officers, strike, only to get moved back over to Manipur on Burma Border, to quell Naga attacks remotely handled by Zapu Phizo, commonly known as A.Z Phizo with British nationality of the Naga National Council (NNC), from London. Nagas declared cash rewards on the heads of CRPF commanders who chased them.

Q: What about your family?

BS Kallur: From there, I came to Gp Centre Hyderabad with my wife after a good separation! I had seen her on 28th Feb 1971, married on 10th March 71, and left for the Border, on 30 Mar 1971. Smt Uma, my wife, has stood the test of time and we are more of friends for well over 52 years. I must give all the credit to her, for what we are now, despite her facing many medical issues. We are parents to two lovely children, Shivraj and Gauri, who themselves are parents to a boy and girl, each nestled across the world, spreading from New Delhi, Singapore, Muscat, Vancouver and Birmingham.

Q: Any reminisces about working at the time of natural disasters?

BS Kallur: Well from Hyderabad, we moved to Bhubaneswar, in the domain of Lord Ling Raj to rush to Bihar, in no time to handle the rioting crowd on being announced by Morarji Bhai, that JP, was no more. But JP came back alive and the situation got controlled. Then Indira Ji announced an Emergency and the whole of Bihar was placed under the CRPF. We became too unpopular, with stringent actions, under Collector Vijay Shankar Dube ji. But, we salvaged our good names, by saving Bihar, especially Patna, from the devastating flood havoc, from the ravaging rivers Ganga, Pun Pun , Sony and Buri Gandak. We stayed out in the flooded belts for well over without shaving and in our shorts.

Q: How about the experience of working during adverse law and order predicaments?

BS Kallur: From Patna I took 14 Bn, to undergo Army training at Sagar, MP. On its completion, moved to Deoli, Rajasthan, soon to move over to Delhi, and camp at Rajghat, Sports Complex, when almost the whole of New Delhi was in turmoil, and I had to wade fm Okhla to Khanjawla, to quell the riots. It was difficult to enter the old Delhi Jama Masjid areas, where people threw burning clothes on us down in the narrow streets. We had to resort to firing to come out a couple of times. It was a lesson of sorts.

My wife and small kids stayed in tents in the sweltering heat of Delhi with no money to buy a desert cooler, managed with the lone Usha fan, worth Rs 150 /- which is still operative.

Q: Where was your best time in the postings?

BS Kallur: It was the end of 1978, I was tipped to get posted to Nagaland, again but thanks to Shri Virbhadraiha ji, we moved to 3rd Bn, Sopore, J & K to live in the house of Janab Khande Sab, on rent of Rs 200/- pm in a single room, bathroom and toilets were common, the Kashmiri, so affectionate and cordial. We, thus saw the Jannat, that was Kashmir...!!! These were the happenings between 1967 -1978. I served in the CRPF for 24 years and 6 in the Black Cat, NSG,. the end of 1990 to 1996. In Feb' 97 I left uniformed services.

-Manohar Yadavatti


  1. Brave person!! Working in CRPF or any armed forces is always challenging job. Your life is always at risk. Handling riot's & dealing with militants, you never know when you will end up your life. It is super interesting to read article of brave soldiers who have dedicated their life to protect sovereignty & integrity of the nation!! My big salute to Kallur Sir.


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