The long journey
The National Police Memorial for paying homage to the supreme sacrifice of Police martyrs was dedicated to the nation by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on October 21, 2018. The idea was first mooted in discussions among the top Police leadership and was laid out in a letter from the Director, Intelligence Bureau to the Home Secretary in 1994. It received support from the Ministry of Home Affairs and also from the Government of India, but still it took 25 years to finally reach to fruition. The journey from inception to completion was an eventful one and full of challenges.
Although memorials for Police martyrs did exist at Hot Springs (Ladakh), Neemuch (Madhya Pradesh) and Kalimpong (West Bengal), to name a few, the need for a National Memorial at a prominent location in Delhi was strongly felt to create, preserve and enhance public awareness of the martyrdom of thousands of policemen in the service of the nation. It was conceived not only as redemption of the national debt to the martyrs, but also to foster a sense of national identity, unity, common history and destiny of the diverse police forces of the country with distinct traditions. The IGsP Conference, 1960, decided to observe October 21, the day 10 valiant policemen laid down their lives protecting the national borders against the Chinese troops at Hot Springs, Ladakh, as the Police Commemoration Day. Every year, police forces all over the country organise ceremonial parades in district and state headquarters on October 21, in memory of the police martyrs in the country. Since 2012, Police Commemoration Day Parade at the national level is organised at the National Police Memorial site in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi with participation of the Central Armed Police Forces, Delhi Police and symbolic representation from state forces, though the Central Sculpture was finally completed and dedicated to the nation this year. The names of all Police martyrs are etched and updated every year in stone on the Wall of Valour at the National Police Memorial.
Search for location
The idea of a national memorial for Police martyrs, which was under discussion among the heads of Central Police Organisations for some time, got traction in 1994 with a letter written by Sri VG Vaidya, the then Director, Intelligence Bureau, to Sri NN Vohra, the then Home Secretary, Government of India. The letter set out detailed rationale for the memorial and also proposed five possible locations in New Delhi, while recommending that the round-about at Motilal Nehru Place be entrusted to the Police for erection of a monument and maintenance and beautification of the garden to avoid the delay of a formal land allotment. After obtaining no objection from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, MHA requested to the Ministry of Urban Development for necessary permission and clearances to erect a memorial at the Motilal Nehru Place round-about. However, in February 1997, Ministry of Urban Development informed of its decision not to agree to the proposal for the memorial and advised to locate it at some other suitable place.
In subsequent years, several locations for the memorial were explored, including the T-junction of Sardar Patel Marg with Wellington Crescent, the Central Civil Services Sports Board land at Vinay Marg and Millennium Park on the Ring Road, but were either found unsuitable or unobtainable. In December 2001, Sri VG Vaidya, former DIB, wrote a letter to Sri LK Advani, Union Home Minister for locating the Memorial within the premises of the Parliament, recalling the supreme sacrifice by policemen in the recent Parliament attack. Soon after, in January 2002, Ministry of Urban Development allotted land measuring 6.12 acres on the Circular Road in Chanakyapuri and 1.42 acres of land in the adjoining round-about for construction of the National Police Memorial, though the allotment of the round-about was later cancelled in July 2003.
This matter was further pursued by Shri K P Singh, Director, Intelligence Bureau and the foundation stone for the National Police Memorial was laid by Sri LK Advani, the then Deputy Prime Minister and HM on December 13, 2002. The design of the central sculpture consisted of four pillars holding a 7 metres diameter globe at the top, with the entire structure initially being 30 metres high but subsequently raised to 47.2 metres. In July 2004, the construction was called off on the directions of the Delhi High Court as the structure was considered to be interfering with the symmetry of the Lutyen’s Zone and the view of the Rashtrapati Bhawan dome. The Group of Ministers recommended (February 2007) construction of a new Police memorial at the same site and for finalisation of broad design parameters
The Second Stage
In the Budget 2014-15, the Union Finance Minister announced the construction of a befitting National Police Memorial and set aside a sum of Rs 50 Crores for this purpose. In February 2015, MHA conveyed approval for renovation of NPM including setting up the Wall of Valour, Central Sculpture and a state of the art Museum through NBCC. By 2016, the Wall of Valour, the Parade Ground, basement for housing the Museum and most of the campus was complete, but finalisation of the design of the central sculpture as well as the Museum remained major bottlenecks. Several attempts were made to obtain an appropriate design through advertisements in newspapers and on government websites as well as from panels of eminent artists. Finally, during early 2018, the design for Central Sculpture submitted by Sri Adwaita Gadanayak, DG, National Gallery of Modern Arts, was approved in a meeting of Heads of CAPFs and representatives of State Police, while design submitted by Vama Communications was approved for the Museum.
The design by DG, NGMA, comprised a 30 feet vertical black granite monolith, a jyoti stone in front of the monolith and a 60 feet water body at the base sculpted into three granite stones. The vertical monolith was conceived as reflecting the strength, resilience and selfless service which characterise the life of a policeman. The weight and colour of granite symbolize the gravitas and solemnity of the supreme sacrifice made by policemen at the altar of the Nation. The sixty feet long river flowing at the base reflects the continuous selfless service rendered by policemen to keep the social fabric together.
By the time the design for the Central Sculpture was finalised, it was March 2018 and only about 6 months remained until the Police Commemoration Day on October 21, 2018. Several times in previous years, this deadline had proved to impossible to meet and there was a lot of apprehension that the same may be repeated this year. The biggest challenge was to find a 30 feet single stone of black granite which would also be very difficult to excavate, manoeuvre and transport on account of its size and weight (238 tonnes eventually). Also, being among the hardest of stones, it was expected to be arduous and time-taking to sculpt the stone once we did manage to find it and transport it to the National Police Memorial site in Delhi.
Finding the stone
Initially, all efforts by NBCC, NGMA and IB to find the stone with desired specifications hit a wall, with all the quarries only offering to provide stones of 10 feet size to be joined together rather than a single granite monolith of size 30 feets. After exploring the possibility at quarries in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, a granite firm in Telangana agreed to provide the desired stone. However, several blocks excavated from quarries in Pekala and Ingurti of Jangaon district and Chirumadaram in Khammam district came out with some fractures or fault-lines, in the process we lost a lot of time with each attempt. Finally, when we were about to give up in favour of smaller stones, a block of stone of 30 feet size was excavated in completely intact form at a quarry in Chirumadaram. Since large cranes with the capacity to handle so much weight could not be brought to the quarry, they employed the ancient technique of constructing a sloping ramp to bring the stone from the depth of 150 feet up to the ground level. The stone had to be pushed and rolled over the ramp with the help of six excavator machines. An added difficulty was the rains which necessitated periodic stoppage of work and the need to pump the water out of the quarry pit. The same technique of ramp and excavator machines was used to load the stone on the trolley truck.
Transportation of the stone
The transportation of the 238 tonnes stone over 2000 kms from Khammam to New Delhi was accomplished by customising a 120 ft long trolley truck with 154 wheels and two puller engines. Since it was already the peak of rainy season, a lot of work was required to reinforce the 2 km un-metalled village road from the quarry to the metalled road in order to get through the mud and slush as well to get a large turning radius at several turns. The entire route had to be meticulously planned in view of the weight and size of the trolley truck and special permission had to be obtained from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Starting from Khammam in Telangana, the route ran through parts of Maharashtra, MP, UP, Rajasthan, Haryana and finally Delhi. All out support from the State Police forces in these states considerably speeded up the movement of the stone and the journey time was halved from the expected 30 days to 15. In Delhi, special permission had to be obtained from NDMC and Traffic Police for removal of some of the road dividers in Kautilya Marg and Teen Murti Marg and for the movement of the trolley truck late at night.
Challenges at the site
When the trolley truck arrived at the National Police Memorial site in Chanakyapuri on the night of September 4 & 5, it took the entire night just to arrange its entry into the campus. The truck’s hydraulic mechanism jammed requiring immediate repairs and the gate into the NPM premises had to be dismantled. Further, despite the use of several cranes, it took five long days for the erection of the granite monolith on the central platform. The owner of the crane company and his senior technical team had to work for several nights and resort to many improvisations in their technique and equipment to accomplish this feat. It was also required to be vertically lifted and placed on the platform specially designed for taking such a heavy load. After the successful erection of the stone, a huge scaffolding around and over the top of the 30 ft stone had to be constructed along with platforms and stairs to allow the NGMA artists to work on the carving and other art work on the stone. By the time DG, NGMA and his artists could start work on the stone, only 29 days were left for completion of the project. /p>
The final push
The granite stones forming part of the water body at the base had arrived over a month earlier and carving of the river had been at full pace by DG, NGMA and his 30 artists during this time. Earlier, getting the NGMA team in place was another challenge in terms of ensuring smooth coordination with NBCC in relation to their stay, working conditions, equipments, etc. The difficulty was to somehow fit in the NGMA artists into the NBCC model of work which involved contractors, but was unacceptable to the artists. As the deadline approached and time quickly slipped by, stone carving in time became a challenge. Anxiety grew all around, new equipment such as corecutting machines had to be brought in to reduce the time required for cutting of the stone. Done in the normal way as envisaged, the cutting of stone would have taken almost thrice the amount of time that was available. The artists had to work round the clock to keep the hope of timely completion alive. The large amount of stone-dust that the cutting of stones generated was a major health hazard and necessitated the use of face masks all the time. In the final days, there were so many teams at work including the artists, the civil contractors, electricians, horticulturists, etc, that it became one maddening rush to the finish line.
In the end, all work teams did manage to synchronise their efforts and the Central Sculpture was ready for the smooth conduct of the Police Commemoration Day Parade on October 21. For all of us involved with the project, the completion was doubly satisfying for all the tremendous stress and seemingly impossible odds that we had to grapple with along the way. Together we overcame all obstacles because of the clarity of purpose and firm intent entrusted by Director, Intelligence Bureau, conscientious nightly vigil by the junior IB staff, the unstinted support and assistance provided by Telangana and other state Police forces, practical help from Delhi Police and Central Armed Police Forces, inspired and lofty vision of DG, NGMA, hard work of the stone craftsmen and VAMA graphic artists, professional approach of NBCC, as well as technical competence of the transporter and the Crane operator. Finally, it is the daily toil and the supreme sacrifice by the thousands of policemen in the service of their motherland, to which this Memorial is beholden and seeks to give expression. The message from the Hon’ble Prime Minister engraved on Granite at the base of Central Sculpture aptly conveys the national sentiment towards the martyrs. The National Police Memorial is now a pilgrimage site for policemen and countrymen alike. Henceforth, the name of every Police martyr in the country shall be etched stone at the National Police Memorial in Delhi.