When Revolvers Were Medals!

The highest Gallantry award for Police in India’s pre-republic days used to be the King’s Police and Fire Service Medal. Awards and honours of the Commonwealth realms ceased to be awarded in India after the promulgation of the Constitution of India on 26 January 1950. Upon becoming a republic, it was necessary for India to establish its own honours system. For police, that meant replacing the King’s Police and Fire Service Medal and the Indian Police Medal. The President’s Police Medal was established 1 March 1951 by the President of India.

Present day President’s Police medal
King’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service

Back in the days, it was a custom to honour the sacrifice of the individual with the gallantary award, and the revolver used by the officer. About 120 such individuals were honoured, among them was Sub Inspector NidhiNath Issar who posthumously received the honour immediately after India’s independence.

SI NidhiNath was posted to Mehrauli, Delhi in 1947 after the disturbances erupted in the area post declaration of India’s independence. The mess of dacoits was difficult to deal with for the humbly armed Police forces. The present day Rohtak, Gurgaon and Karnal districts were infested with dacoits and Police had to work arduously to maintain peace in the area.

On the fateful night on 22nd January 1948, a Police raiding party was formed to take down 2 dacoits who were wanted for several dacoities in Delhi. SI Nidhinath and team walked 20 Kms to the area where the dacoits were hiding in huts, since it was a luxury in those days to manage a vehicle for an operation.

After reaching the spot where the dacoits were hiding, the Police took up position and formed a semi circle around the huts. On the Police party advancing closer to the hut, it was fired upon by dacoits with automatic weapons– 303 rifles and revolvers. The police returned the fire and continued their advance. One of the dacoits endeavored to escape, SI Nidhinath noticed this and immediately rushed to the door of the hut with great courage. In the resulting exchange of fire the brave officer was hit by a bullet at his temple. The operation lasted 3 hours before the dacoits were killed and Police recovered large quantity of arms and ammunition. SI Nidhinath, had managed to shoot down one of the dreaded dacoits with modern weapon before he made the supreme sacrifice. He had displayed conspicuous gallantry of highest award, for which he was awarded the revolver he used and also the King’s Police and Fire Services Medal.

SI Nidhinath Issar’s wife, Ms Devika Rani Issar, receiving the medal from Sadar Vallabh Bhai Patel
SI Nidhinath Issar

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