GT Road and the inglorious escapades



Nehchal Sandhu

The Grand Trunk Road coursed via the southern lobe of my first policing jurisdiction. Built as Uttarapatha by Chandragupta Maurya within the third century masking over 950 miles from Patliputra (now Patna) to Lahore, prolonged as Shah Rah-e-Azam from Cox’s Bazar to Peshawar by Sher Shah Suri in 15th century AD, later stretched to Kabul as Badshahi Sadak by the Mughals, and rebuilt by the British over 30 years within the 19th century because the Grand Trunk (GT) Road, it ranks as certainly one of Asia’s oldest and longest arteries.

The Patna-Ranchi freeway connecting the summer time and winter capitals of the erstwhile state of Bihar intersects it at Barhi, which was certainly one of two bases from which army detachments had been despatched out to retake Hazaribagh and Ranchi because the Santhal revolt of 1855-56 and the Mutiny (1857) had been overcome. Graves of personnel alongside the Grand Trunk Road in Barhi’s neighborhood bear testimony to these army ventures within the 19th century.

Over time, as even right now, the GT Road has been a serious commerce route, with items being carried in each instructions. The Patna-Ranchi street was and is the principal artery for extracting minerals and timber from the resource-rich Chhotanagpur plateau.

The mainstay of those operations was the jolly trucker; inured to tiresome routines necessitated by tight supply schedules, these drivers managed to keep up good cheer. Entrusted with overloaded vans, these hardy and tenacious drivers would make it from one staging level to a different 150-200 miles away, assured {that a} hearty meal adopted by ‘spiked’ tea and a few relaxation beneath a tree would allow them to deal with the journey to comply with.

In the mid-1970s, crime alongside these highways started to rise. After nightfall, truckers carrying Rs4,000 or so for purchasing a truckload of coal (or one other commodity) can be relieved of that sum, wrist watches, and many others. The brigands concerned would select lonely spots and loot cash from 10-15 vans, after which decamp. In the occasion of resistance, the dacoits would use iron rods for assault, generally resulting in deaths.

With a few such gory incidents having taken place in my neck of the woods, regardless of upkeep of the factor of shock in our actions, it was clear that ways needed to be switched if we had been to keep away from the ignominy of being characterised as a police unworthy of its uniform. As insecurity amongst truckers rose, so did their resentment towards the police.

After a number of discussions, truckers permitted us to run decoys — we’d drive their vans with a posse of armed policemen beneath tarpaulin within the cargo house. Just a few weeks later, we had been confronted with a tree felled throughout the freeway in a densely wooded space between Sherghati and Barhi on the GT Road within the early a part of the evening. As quickly as our truck slowed down, a number of gang members emerged from the shadows. Excited armed personnel within the again jumped out prematurely, inflicting the gang chief to order a right away withdrawal. Nimble footed, they took flight. Only one of many brigands, a tyro within the gang, could possibly be apprehended. He disclosed that the majority of his prison colleagues had been from Varanasi district 140 miles away.

Hardly just a few weeks later, we struck gold throughout one other decoy operation within the winding phase of the Patna-Ranchi freeway close to Tilaiya Dam, not too removed from the GT Road at Barhi. We had been on the finish of a line of vans halted of their tracks because of the hold-up. Despite an unhurried transfer ahead in plainclothes, a scout noticed us and sounded an alarm. In panic, the robbers clambered up the adjoining hill.

The cordon that was shortly laid was quickly joined by armed personnel requisitioned from close by police stations. Meanwhile, truckers saved their headlights on, decanted diesel from their autos and set alight the comb on the decrease margins of the hill, and the spirited ones wielding iron rods to avenge the murders of their colleagues joined us. The robbers had been quickly rounded up. We had some issue in subduing gang chief Kanhaiya Misir, whose wrists had been too large for the most important pair of handcuffs we had; he had, subsequently, to be restrained with Manila rope. As it turned out, this gang was from Sasaram 110 miles away, the birthplace and later headquarters of Sher Shah Suri. Their confessions helped detect many unsolved circumstances, and numerous profitable prosecutions ensued.

The jurisdiction remained freed from incidents of freeway theft for the following 18 months. Rather naively, I fancied myself as William Henry Sleeman. My presumptuousness was quickly bared as I learn spectacular accounts of extirpation of many massive organised gangs of thugs, who had been ruthless robbers and murderers, by Sleeman as General Superintendent of The Thugee and Dacoity Department established in 1835. During eight years of stewardship of the division, Sleeman developed elaborate intelligence and profiling strategies, that predated related strategies in Europe and the US by many years. Recognised for his abilities, Sleeman was knighted after being elevated to the rank of Major General.

Little did I realise then that, only a few years later, I’d be part of the Intelligence Bureau, which traces its lineage to the Central Special Branch arrange in 1887 as a wing of The Thugee and Dacoity Department by the Secretary of State for India. It was rechristened thrice — as Central Criminal Intelligence Department in 1903, then Central Intelligence Department in 1918, and eventually Intelligence Bureau in 1920; in that avtar, it has clocked a centenary.



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