Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill (Kanwar Pal Singh) who died today at the age of 82 in Delhi, was an Indian Police Services (IPS) officer of the 1957 batch of the Assam and Meghalaya cadre. Singh had been conferred with the Padma Shri by the Indian government for his services. The braveheart police officer is known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’ and has been credited with ending militancy in Punjab with his strong approach in the state. According to the BBC, Gill had a reputation of being a tough officer. The officer had become a household name across the country for his role in ending the insurgency in Punjab. Gill was nicknamed ‘Supercop’ for his ability to script a success in a situation that was deteriorating fast.
According to the BBC, Gill was requested by the government of Sri Lanka in 2001 to advise them on anti-terror operations too. Gill’s iconic status remains untarnished among both ordinary people and political parties. The two-time Director General of Police (DGP) for Punjab successfully controlled the situation in the state as it reeled under militant violence in the eighties and early nineties. However, his supporters say that it was the only way he could have defeated armed members of the Khalistan movement.
After serving 29 years in Assam and Meghalaya, Gill returned to his home state of Punjab in 1984. Post-retirement, he was appointed security adviser to the Gujarat government and was also adviser to Chhattisgarh in 2006.
Gill’s finest moment, possibly, came in May 1988, when he commanded Operation Black Thunder to tackle militants holed up in the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The police action, and the decision to switch off water and electricity connections, led to the surrender of 67 people. Using his presence of mind, and an unique strategy, Gill ensured that during the operation, unlike Army-led Blue Star of 1984, the Sikh shrine was not touched.
No stranger to controversy, Gill was convicted of sexual harassment in 1996 for molesting a civil servant at a party in Chandigarh on July 18, 1988.