( This is based on my funeral address at the church services for H.S.Chittaranjan IPS (retired) held at the St.Andrews Kirk Church, Egmore, Chennai, on October 7,2010)
I called on Chittus as Chittaranjan was affectionately known to his friends at the Apollo Specialities Hospital on September 22. He was very weak. He had difficulty in speaking. He kept his eyes closed, but he was very alert. He closely followed my conversation with his elder son Peter and made brief comments now and then. After 30 minutes, I got up to take leave of him. He took out his right hand from under the blanket with which he had covered himself and extended it towards me. I grasped it and shook it. I did not realise at that time that was to be my last hand-shake with him.
His hand was as firm as it had always been. It was as warm as it had always been. As I came out of the room, I told myself: " Chittus has always been a great fighter. He will pull through."
Yes, he was always a valiant fighter and prevailed ---- whether the fight was against the Chinese or Pakistani intruders or against the insurgents or terrorists or the law-breakers.
After completing his training at the Central Police Training College, Mount Abu, Rajasthan, in October 1962, he reported for duty in Assam a few days after the invading Chinese troops had occupied Bomdila. His first task as a young police officer was to counter Chinese subversion in Assam and to keep up the morale of the people. His second was to counter Pakistani subversion from the then East Pakistan.
Assam was the most troubled State in India when Chittus reported for duty there. Jammu & Kashmir was a comparatively peaceful State. He was called upon to deal with a welter of insurgencies by sections of the Nagas, Mizos and Assamese and Pakistani support to them. He fought with great courage against all the evils and threats to national security. Invariably, he prevailed over evil.
In recognition of his achievements, he was awarded the Indian Police Medal in 1973 within 11 years of his joining the State. This was a remarkable record. Officers normally took 15 years to win this Medal. He won the President's Medal in 1987.
All diseases are treacherous. Cancer is the most treacherous of all. It strikes when you least expect it. It takes you by surprise. During his 33 years of service in the Indian Police, Chittus had never allowed himself to be taken by surprise by any evil force.
But, in December 2009, 14 years after he had retired as the Director-General of Police of Assam in January,1995, he was taken by surprise for the first time in his life. By the dreaded disease called cancer.
He fought as valiantly against cancer as he had fought against the Chinese and Pakistanis and the insurgencies and terrorism backed by them. Having known what a determined fighter Chittus was I had no doubt in my mind that he would come out victorious in this fight too. But God seems to have willed otherwise.
I met Chittus for the first time on the platform of the Old Delhi railway station in the first week of June,1961, as we were traveling from Chennai to Dehradun for training. We were not only batch-mates, but also room-mates. We shared the same room in one of the messes of the National Academy of Administration at Mussorree. Batch-mates build strong bonds among themselves. Room-mates even more so.Chittus and I developed a special friendship and affection for each other.
He was newly-married to Patsy, his wife, when he joined the Academy. Till late in the night, he would be sitting on his bed resting his back against the wall and writing letters to his wife, friends and relatives. He was a prolific letter-writer. He would reply to each and every letter that he received---even if it be from strangers.
Chittus and I were outdoor types. We loved long walks and treks. We always walked together in Kulri in Mussorree. Chittus, the late C.K.Gajananan, another batch-mate, who died young while still in service, and I used to go for treks in the woods of Mussorree almost every Sunday. We used to trek even in pouring rain. We would lift our trousers when we returned to the mess at the end of a long trek in pouring rain. We would find dozens of leeches sticking to our legs and blood oozing out. We would remove them by washing our legs with salt water. On the first occasion, it was a frightening and disgusting sight. We got used to it subsequently.
We kept our outdoor interests even in the Central Police Training College in Mount Abu. We were not room-mates in Mount Abu, but maintained our close bonds that we had built up at Mussorree. Chittus, Gajananan and I developed a new hobby at Mount Abu---- riding in the forests on the hills after dinner on Saturday nights. Even the horses used to be afraid of going out into the forests past midnight, but we were not.
I used to tell Chittus: "One day we are going to end in the stomach of either a panther or a python." We didn't, but Chittus ended in the death-trap of even a worse animal called cancer. God seems to have willed it that way.
Chittus was an outstanding officer, a person of legendary personal integrity, a devoted friend, a loyal batch-mate and an enthusiastic sportsman. He captained the cricket team of the Central Police Training College. He retained his lively interest in cricket even during his painful illness.
What a distinguished record Chittus had !. He was the youngest police officer to have become a Superintendent of Police, and then a Deputy Inspector-General of Police and then an Inspector-General of Police and then the DG of Police of Meghalaya. He had a vast knowledge of insurgencies in the North-East having dealt with them for most of his career. Whenever he came to Delhi from Assam to attend conferences, he would find the time to drop in at my house and look up my ailing mother.
More than an outstanding officer, he was a wonderful human being. We must grieve for him, but we should not allow our grief to come in the way of our moving forward.
Let us all keep moving forward. That is what God would expect of us. That is what Chittus would have himself wanted.
Chittus had a booming voice and a booming laughter.When he spoke or laughed the whole neighbourhood could hear. I am sure he would be keeping God and His angels laughing in heaven and preventing them from sleeping with his booming voice.