Kavasji Jamshedji Petigara: An Extraordinary Policeman


November 5, 2014

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Bombay | History

On reading a recent article on the Irani brothers in the Mumbai Police Force, Parsi Khabar reader Shahpur Doctor writes in to remind us of a legendary Parsi police officer from nearly a 100 years ago.

Shahpur writes:

I would like to bring the following information for your kind attention, and I am certain that your readers will enjoy reading about it.

250px-Sykes.1The life size marble statue of Ex. Deputy Commissioner of Police,  Khan Bahadur Kavasji Jamshedji Petigara,   C.I.E., O.B.E., I.S.O., J.P. I.P. is located near the Framji Cowasji Institute at Dhobi Talao in Mumbai. The statue was unveiled by Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyer, Dewan of Travancore near Faramji Cowasji Institute, Dhobitalao, Bombnay, on 8th June 1940, when an Armed Police Contingent, presented A Guard of Honour.  The Viceroy of India, & The Governor of Bombay, praised his wisdom, popularity & eagerness to do his duty & his Gallantry, and  Meritorious Services rendered by him for many years fighting Crime at Bombay.

Then Commissioner of Police of Bombay spoke about, and recorded his utmost Loyalty & Dedication towards his Senior Officers.

Kavasji Petigara was born to a very devout and honest Parsi family on November 24th, 1877 and passed away on March 28th, 1941, at the age of 63. He started his career as a Sub Inspector of Police in 1903.

Due to his Crime Fighting ability, Intelligence, Meritorious Service and Loyalty, he was Promoted to the Rank of Inspector of Police, after Six years of service in the year 1909.

After 10 years he was Promoted to the Rank of of Superintendent of Police, Bombay, in the year 1919.

On February 1st 1928 he was the first Indian ever to be promoted to the rank of deputy commissioner of police, by the British, & was placed in charge of the crime branch of the Bombay police, which post he held for 10 years.  He retired on April 11th, 1937.

220px-Kavasji_Jamshedji_Petigara_statueHe was given The Title of Khan Saheb in 1912. In 1916 he was bestowed the Title of Khan Bahadur for his highest acts of bravery. He also earned, I.S.O. Imperial service Order in 1926,  O.B.E.  Order of The Brirtish Empire, in 1931, C.I.E.  in 1933, and KING’S POLICE MEDAL, IN 1934.

After retirement from Police Service, he was appointed as The First Non Muslim, to a very responsible position of Admini9strator, of Prince Ali Khan’s (son of Aga Khan) estate.

He was a True Parsi in every sense of the word, was very religious and was a regular worshiper at our Parsi Fire Temples and our Atesh Behrams.  Though he was Tough by nature but he was very kind hearted and took Great Care of the Officers and the Sepoys (street cops) that served under him.  He was well known for his personal charities to the poor and the needy, and to the families of the crime victims.  So today let us Salute this Great Soul, who has made our Parsi Community Proud, as it is time to celebrate his Birth Anniversary on November 24th.

More about Kavasji Jamshedji Petigara: Wikipedia Entry

Shahpur further adds:

I would like to add a few names that I missed when I wrote to you earlier.

The other names that come to my mind are Inspectors Antia and Zaveri, and I am not sure if they became ACP’s One person that also made a name for himself was Assistant Commissioner of Police Cooverji Bhesadia, who was attached to The Anti Corruption Bureau at Bombay and he broke the backs of  the Gold Smugglers, in the late 1960’s.  We also had Mr. Sanjana who was not a Police Officer, but was a strict Law Enforcement Officer in the capacity of The Deputy Collector of Central Excise at Bombay & he went after the Gold smugglers in a very big way, in the 1960’s.

Even at the R.T.O. Regional Transport office, there were several Parsi R.T.O. Officers.  The Top position was held by Mr. Servai, who i believe was the Chief R.T.O. Officer.Then we had Dy. SP. Darayus Contractor, (Deputy Superintendent of Police) in the district of Thana, who resided at Rustom Baug.  After his retirement he was chosen as The Chief Security Officer of Bank Of Baroda at Bombay, as he had to his credit of having cracked many major cases during his tenure.At Bombay in the 1050’s there was a Civilian Officer with The Bombay Police who was the Pillar of The Finger Print Bureau.

His name was Mr. Daruwalla, and in the day and age when they had no computers,  he was the most respected FINGER PRINT EXPERT OF NATIONAL REPUTE OF HIS TIME. Mr. Daruwalla  HAD CRACKED MANY CASES WITH HIS EXPERTISE OF FINGER PRINTS.  Mr. Daruwalla had testified in Courts, where his word was respected as an authority.In The State of Gujarat, we had I.G.P. (Inspector general of Police) Mr. Nagarwalla I.P.S. who was a Indian Police Service Officer along with other Parsi Police officers that served the State of Gujarat. At the Central level we also had I.P.S. Parsi Police officers by the names of Mr. Rustomji, and Mr. Satarawalla.

If my memory serves me right, they both were I.P.S. Police Officers and at least one of them was The Director General of The Border Security Force (B.S.F.)Some people have made irresponsible statements about our Present day Parsis, not joining the Police Force, by saying that they are lazy, & like to work in The Corporate world, and they lack knowledge of the Marathi language.  Let me add my 2 cents to this statement by saying that today the main reason for Parsis not joining The Police Force, is that Corruption is at such a high level that where one has to bribe to be recruited, or be a relative of a minister. So our Parsi boys, are not good candidates for the this job, and the higher ups are fully aware of it, so if any Parsi that applies does not have a snow ball’s chance in hell to either be selected, and if selected they are shunted to unimportant posts, as they do not have their Godfathers as Higher Ups who can assist them.

This is a Very High Stress Level job, where there are no labor laws to protect them, and they have to work very long hours without any limit, at the cost of their family life.

Unwanted transfers when their children are in school, upsets the education plans of their children.

One has to handle “human garbage” on a daily basis and that also is a negative factor of this Police job.  One is damned if they do their job and damned if they don’t.  Criminals walk free and officers are made answerable.

Far off transfers from their residence also takes it’s toll.

There is no job satisfaction.  As they say in Marathi “VASHILA PAIJE” WHICH MEANS YOU NEED A GODFATHER TO PULL YOU IN, AND TO GIVE YOU PLUM POSITIONS, & POSTS, without which one just rots in the Dept. in unimportant bottom of the barrel postings for years.

Knowing that, is a very sad situation, so the Parsis / Iranis have not thought about joining the Police Dept in recent years.  Gone are the days of the Parsis to work as Police Officers, unless one can manage to be selected as an I.P.S. Officer. Additionally one must remember that, all or most of The Parsi / Irani Police Officers that excelled in the Police Dept. in the past, never gave a helping hand to the young Parsi Boys to join the Police Dept. and never played their part to bring up those that had already joined, and if one was dumped in an unimportant position due to lack of that “VASHILA”, then they rotted there for many years, causing the morale to dip low.

Among the Maharashtrian Police Officers, they actively make it their Priority to suck in their own people, take an active roll so that they do get timely Promotion, and Postings at important Posts.  So that being said, we can conclude that the time of the Parsis / Iranis to serve in the Police Dept. has become a thing of the past.   So we have to move on.

It is Proven by the fact, that I personally am not aware of a Single Parsi / Irani Police Officer who has brought in his son, daughter or relative, in the Police Dept.  This very silently proves morale at it’s lowest.