By Oken Jeet Sandham
After 37 years of serving the State and retiring after reining the topmost position in the hierarchal institution, it is something a blessing. Many used to retire after serving in various Governmental departments for decades but they did not reach the topmost position. It is nice to see that someone serving full to rein the whole institution and retiring gracefully.
Kelhousiethe Kire, IPS, who is retiring as Director General of Police (DGP), Nagaland by 31st December this year after serving long 37 years in the State’s Police Department has many things to be remembered. In his long chequered service history spanning over three decades in this insurgency prone State bordering Myanmar, he would have a many to tell.
In fact, when he joined the Nagaland Police way back in 1974 as DSP, the situation at that point of time in Nagaland was simply horrible. In was a time when the people did not like to join the Police service because of the unprecedented escalation of violence between the Indian security forces and the Naga underground people. It was also a time while many Naga leaders including prominent church workers were working overtime to convince the Naga underground people to come out and have some kind of deal with the Government of India. The following year, the infamous Shillong Accord was signed between the Government of India and the representatives of the Naga underground outfit.
So, Kire had opted for the service of the State Police and he never turned back from his avowed commitment. He himself rightly pointed out that many had sacrificed their precious lives in the line of duties while some are not. While attending a recent funeral service of a jawan of 10 NAP (IR) who died fighting Maoist militants in West Bengal’s Purulia, he said, “We all will die, but the manner in which you have sacrificed is known by the people far and wide.” “Don’t think it is worthless,” he said.
Since Nagaland got her Statehood in 1963, the State had 17 Police Chiefs and out of which only 5 are Nagas. Mr Kire has served in various capacities and before coming to Police Headquarters, he had served as DSPs and SPs and Commandants of Nagaland Police battalions in various districts of the State. He assumed office of the Director General of Police of Nagaland on March 1, 2009. He took over from J Changkija, IPS.
Remarkably, many new things like strengthening security apparatus took place during Kire’s tenure as DGP. The raising of more Mahila Battalions and Commando Units, etc, also took place. It may be mentioned that the service of 15th NAP (IR) Mahila Battalion was sought during the last Commonwealth Games at nation’s capital. The services of the personnel and officials of the Battalion were lauded by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The Naga women personnel were deployed in various markets in the national capital besides Delhi Metro Stations. “The Mahila battalion performed as effectively as any other force, proving that they are in no way less than their male counterparts,” said Chidambaram while addressing the 15th NAP (IR) Mahila Unit in New Delhi.
Kire continued motivating and boosting morale of jawans by personally spending his 2009 Christmas with personnel, officials and their families of 9th NAP (IR) Battalion at Delhi. He again spent his 2010 Christmas with the jawans, officials and their families of 10th NAP (IR) Battalion at Purulia, West Bengal.
Many crucial elections like 14th Lok Sabha, five by-elections including the most crucial 29 Aonglenden one took place during his tenure as State’s Police Chief. He closely monitored various security apparatuses during these elections to make sure that no untoward incidents occurred. He also wisely saved situation from erupting violence when the unprecedented impeachment of NSCN (K) Chairman SS Khaplang from the organization and its follow-up developments. His sagacious and bold decision forced the Center to come their clear stand on ceasefires with various factions.
Kire was also not only an avid sport lover but also an outstanding sportsperson. He was a great footballer. In fact, before joining Nagaland Police in 1974, he played number of football tournaments including Subroto Cup in 1967. In the same year when he joined Nagaland Police in 1974, he played historic CC Meet at Imphal and lifted the Trophy. In fact, till today, he plays football besides holding prestigious positions in various sporting Associations in the State.
He also always thinks that sports can play major role in bringing peace among the various sections of the people. There is no barrier for him when sports come to his mind. He simply doesn’t want to politicize any sporting activities in his life. In a rare manner as a Police Chief of Nagaland, he kept going to Manipur to play himself football tournaments. In one such occasion, which I would never forget in my life was his joining Nagaland Police veteran football team when they entered final of the prestigious 13th Challenger Cup 2011 held at the historic Imphal Polo Ground. They had to play against Football Club Imphal (FCI) on May 10, 2011.
It was a surprise one day that Kire just called me up asking whether I had any program on Tuesday (May 10, 2011). I simply replied, “No,” and asking him anything what I could do for him. He told me that he was going to Imphal on Tuesday (May 10, 2011) to play final football match against Manipur football team (Football Club Imphal) in the 13th Challenger Cup 2011 at the Polo Ground, Imphal. I was wondering what he was talking but he told me that Nagaland Police veteran football team entered final in the 13th Challenger Cup 2011 at Imphal and would play against FCI. “So I want to join them,” he told me. I was very happy and told him that I would be meeting him next day in his office to organize for the journey to Imphal.
I met the DGP in his office the next day. From his office we both started chalking out for our journey program. He was so simple that we would just go to Imphal. I told him to communicate with his counterpart in Manipur for proper security arrangement along the National Highway 2 – Kohima-Imphal Road (previously NH 39). I was actually worried because if anything happened while going to Imphal, it would be simply a hell. I started contacting Manipur police officials at Imphal informing that Nagaland DGP was coming to Imphal to play football final match. So, I too engaged in working out DGP’s comfortable journey to Imphal and back to Kohima. In a way, he was so simple and tension-free-type man.
So the next day, we left for Imphal. Some senior Nagaland police officials too accompanied the DGP to Imphal. We were received in 1st MR Battalion by some high ranking Manipur Rifles (MR) officials. Then hurriedly we had our lunch and the DGP, without taking any rest, changed his dress for the match. We then headed to the Polo Ground where we met Nagaland police veteran football players. They were actually thrilled seeing their DGP there not only to support them but to join them in the match. The match started at 3 PM.
On the other side, since the Nagaland DGP’s taking part in the final match already appeared in Manipur local dailies, many sports and football lovers of Imphal thronged the Polo Ground to have a glance on the Nagaland Police Chief’s skills in football. In fact, the crowd cheered when the Nagaland Police Chief entered the ground and frankly speaking, the crowd in the Polo Ground sided with the Nagaland team. Surprisingly, DGP Kire wasn’t a new person in Imphal. He had many childhood friends and many of them were also holding high positions in various Governmental establishments and institutions in Manipur. Many of them came and wished him good luck before the start of the match and in fact didn’t leave him throughout. Many Manipuris who retired from the Nagaland Police came and gave their happiest salutes to him. It was a scene of something extra-ordinary bonding between the Nagaland DGP and his past friends in Nagaland uniform service from Manipur. They didn’t speak English or even Hindi, they only started speaking “Nagamese” – a sign of true “love.” There is no sign of loss in the disciplines that maintained between the subordinates and their boss. Unfortunately, his counterpart, Manipur DGP Joykumar Singh could not turn up as he was reportedly had some mild stroke while we were reaching Imphal. We were so sorry for the news any way and Kire personally conveyed his wishes for his speedy recovery.
The first half went off without Kire. He joined the team in the second half. When he entered the field, the crowd cheered and gave him a standing ovation. The main attraction of the final match, without doubt, was Nagaland DGP’s joining the Nagaland team in the 2nd half. Although he could not score any goal, his dribbling confused many opponents. His participating in the match also boosted morale of the players of the Nagaland team.
Nagaland team played dominance in the first half too and definitely when the DGP joined them in the second half, it was really free-will match for Nagaland players. Manipur team had a tough time defending all along. Finally, in the second half, Nagaland gave one solidarity goal emerging Champion of the 13th Challenger Cup 2011.
This is the second time Nagaland police veteran football team lifted the prestigious Challenger Cup Trophy. Earlier in 2009, they lifted the trophy and in 2010, they could not take place in the Cup.
Kire was so kind that he donated Rs 1 lakh to the organizer and also while receiving the cash award along with the trophy, he took the trophy and returned the cash back to the organizers.
His simplicity and no barrier in sports and more importantly going to a place where lot of issue having, his playing football there at Imphal had not only sent a clear message to the people who were also fed-up of insurgency that “sports can bring a lot to them.” He had shown en example that political activities should not come in the way of sports and in fact the people in Imphal had shown unprecedented love and care for the Nagaland DGP. His plays in Manipur in 2009 and this year were simply “heroic.” I salute him. He played his part. He became a hero in Manipur and I am thinking if the Manipur DGP too comes and plays in Nagaland, it will be a wonderful chemistry in the relationship of these two trouble-torn neighboring States in the region. I wish a Merry Christmas to DGP Kire and his family members and to have a very happy retired life in years to come.