Requiem for Randhir

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Randhir Verma, I.P.S (Bihar R R 1974) Superintendent of Police (SP) was martyred in an encounter with terrorists who were trying to loot a bank in Dhanbad twenty-seven years ago.

(This obituary, "Requiem for Randhir", appeared in Sunday Observer, a paper which has now ceased publication. The present version is a slightly edited version from an old typed copy that I fished out for a forthcoming book on Bihar Police. It may differ slightly from the original version that came out).

Requiem for Randhir

Before the fateful day of the 3rd January 1991 there were two Randhir Vermas – Randhir Verma the man and Randhir Verma the legend. In his death the two coalesced. If anything, the man far outstripped the legend. I knew a little of both, and it can be said that the manner of his death was perfectly in keeping with his whole character. In the line of duty, he thought nothing of setting his personal security at naught. We have it on good authority that earlier on, on many occasions- in Begusarai, in Muzaffarpur, Bettiah, Chaibasa - he had sometimes used his bare hands to good account against much better armed criminals.

Contrary to the comic notion of police making its appearance on the scene in the last frame, he was there, sometimes in his pajamas, sometimes with the shaving lather still intact on one cheek. Always ahead of everyone else. In many hair-raising encounters he had left death panting far behind. It seems he was imbued with a sense that he was not born to die-one of the many ploys that death devises to trap its marked victims. But in an endgame with death, death has to have an upper hand.

Those who have served with him hold him in awe; his superhuman courage was matched by an equally formidable array of accomplishments in the field of sports and athletics. Even in these unregenerate days, his integrity remained beyond reproach. But above all was his ability to lead from the front, to chastise the laggards and the pusillanimous by the example of his personal valour. It found its apotheosis in the manner the end came. He went ahead and engaged the terrorists in mortal combat, disregarding all rules of caution and close quarter combat. The fear of death failed to deter him. In fact, he mocked at its capacity to instill fear.

It is in this context that the wisdom born out of hindsight of how he should have challenged the desperadoes becomes jejune, even irrelevant. He had his own standards of courage and caution and I am sure he would have been utterly pleased with his own response had he come out alive of this encounter, as he was wont to. In this close encounter of the weird kind he gave with his vintage service revolver the terrorists armed with assault rifles back as good as he got and came out victorious. Destroyed but not defeated.

Superhuman courage was certainly the most spectacular and visible of his qualities but that was not all that the man Randhir Verma was about. It seems he was born to disprove many theories, to demystify many pet notions. He was so humble, so very eager to help and had such disarming and engaging manners that one had almost begun to question the axiom that great abilities are always coupled with a certain hauteur, a cold aloofness, even superciliousness.

He made the largest number of appearances in his familiar role of a troubleshooter for the government. Whether it was marginalizing the activities of the redoubtable and seemingly invincible Kamdeo Singh or containing the tribal agitation in Chaibasa, success and fame fell to his share as a matter of course. Yet he wore them very lightly.

The most remarkable thing was that his success and achievements were never tainted by controversies. One may have a few reservations here and there but the man stood apart, towered above his no mean achievements. Public adulations' and appreciation didn't turn his head. Didn't sweep him off his feet. He remained his own affable, approachable and very, very human self. In a competitive world where people are all the time selling themselves, he refrained from talking about his well-deserved achievements. He was in fact a little secretive about them. He didn't develop an image of himself, therefore, he was not obliged to be a prisoner of his own image. His qualities as an officer were intrinsic to the man. In spite of the enormous pressure of work he radiated warmth and a playful tenderness. His zest for life and the extremely positive attitude quite belied the notion of a harassed, cynical, or tense police officer.

It may appear to be an unashamed hagiography to those unfamiliar with his life but in all fairness to the man there couldn't be another mode of describing him. Any portrait of him has to be larger than life because he was, in fact, larger than life. It will be extremely difficult to rival his feat but his legend will inspire the generations of officers to come. Of him one can truly say what was said of Alexander: "In the shadow of your gigantic achievements we pitch our miserable little tent."


India Today magazine once referred to Manoje Nath, a 1973-batch IPS officer, as being fiercely independent, honest, and upright. Besides his numerous official reports on various issues exposing corruption in the bureaucracy in Bihar, Nath is also a writer extraordinaire expressing his thoughts on subjects ranging from science fiction to the effects of globalization. His sense of humor was evident through his extremely popular series named "Gulliver in Pataliputra" and "Modest Proposals" that were published in the local newspapers.

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