Commissioner Ribeiro

Mother had suffered a heart attack and against the advice of the doctors at GT Hospital I had taken discharge and returned home so as not to raise her suspicions about my injuries.  Dr. B. K. Goyal of the JJ Hospital in Mumbai recommended diagnosed that her heart valve was weak and needed to be replaced.  The equipment needed to further diagnose her condition was not working and since the test needed to be done urgently, I inquired at Bombay Hospital which had similar apparatus.

I was told that I could get an appointment only after a month.  We couldn’t wait for so long.  An acquaintance at Bombay Hospital said, “It’s not difficult for you policemen to get an early appointment.  Just call up the local police station.”  Since I wasn’t from Bombay, I wasn’t sure whether the local police station would cooperate with me.  I limped right in to the office of the then Commissioner of Police Mr. Ribeiro.  I was called inside as soon as I sent my name, as he was aware of the Ram Sham case.

He immediately called up the local police station and we got an appointment for the very next day.  Helping an unacquainted junior officer and personally seeing him off to the door, I had tremendous respect for Mr. Ribeiro.  While admitted in GT Hospital, the DCP of that Zone Mr. Rony Mendonca also visited me and inquired about my health.

DIG Mis-Understanding

While sitting at my home in Panvel I received a message on the phone.  “The DIG has asked you to meet him at the Rest House.”

Limping due to the injuries that had turned septic I entered the Rest House suite.  I stood in attention and saluted the DIG.
“So you are Khopade?”
“Yes sir, I am Suresh Khopade.”
“How many years have you completed in the Police department?”  He spoke with a slight North Indian accent.
“A year and a half, sir.  Panvel is my first charge.”
“Oh, so within a year and a half you have started acting so smart?”
“Huh?” I faltered.  “Sir I don’t understand what you mean.”
“You will, you will.  Very soon.  Within a year and a half you have started thinking of yourself as really smart have you?”

He continued speaking in English and Hindi, saying that I was a disrespectful and undisciplined and was looking for cheap publicity.  My knees became wobbly when I heard this.  “Do you want to stay in the police service or are you looking for another job?”

When I heard the words “Are you looking for another job?” I felt my chest tighten with fear.  “If you want to continue in the police then work properly.  Observe the discipline.  Don’t try to be over smart.  Understood?”

Lack of discipline in me? My mind told me that I was a very simple man.  I never dared to speak rudely to even the lowest police constable.  How was I rude?  What discipline had I not maintained?  But the DIG didn’t give me a chance to speak.  Even if he had, I wouldn’t have been able to say a single word.  I limped back home.  For a long time I sat staring at the ceiling with my 2 and half year old daughter Rajlaxmi and 3 month old son Sangram.

My village flashed in front of my eyes.  I sat thinking about my family members.  I remembered the terrible drought of  1972.  My family had been a medium income agricultural one, but during the 1972 drought all of us had to go for ‘drought work’ just for subsistence.  We would dig up ditches and crush stones.  I remembered standing in queues for 12 hours just to get half a kilo of Milo and maze at the rationing shop.  And here this DIG was asking me whether I was looking for another job!  This was more than I could take.