Wearing the bloodstained cap and badge-- evidence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case - on the day of his retirement was a cocktail of emotions, says IPS officer Prateep V Phillip, who survived the ghastly attack that killed the former Prime Minister in a 1991 election rally.
The senior official, who retired as DGP (Training) was allowed possession of the cap and badge by a city court recently, allowing him to wear them on his day of retirement. Prateep V Phillip said he would pen a book on his experiences on the horrendous tragedy at Sriperumbudur on May, 21, 1991, that left at least another 14 dead after a suicide bomber of the LTTE blew herself up.
A city civil court granted permission to the IPS officer to wear on the last day of his service, the bloodstained cap and name badge that he wore on duty when the former Prime Minister was assassinated. Prateep V Phillip then served as Additional Superintendent of Police, Kancheepuram, and survived the human bomb blast that killed Mr Gandhi and others.
Prateep V Phillip sustained injuries in the incident and due to the impact of the blast, his cap and name badge fell down. Since then, his cap and badge, which were part of the evidence from the scene of crime, collected by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), had remained in the custody of the trial court.
Few days before his retirement, he moved the First Additional Sessions Court seeking permission to take possession of the cap and name badge, as they were of "immense sentimental value" to him.
The First Additional Sessions judge T Chandrsekharan on September 28, granted permission for interim custody, on own bond of Rs one lakh and ordered they should be handed over to the court on or before October 28 after the purpose was fulfilled. The officer retired on September 30.
The cap and badge literally symbolised his blood, sweat and tears of his professional career which spanned about 34 years, the court further noted.
"Holding the cap and badge, in my capacity, at the closure of 34 years of service life, symbolises the trauma I went through, the exhilaration, the law, sadness - a cocktail of emotions. I was the only person on the planet who underwent the ordeal," Mr Phillip, who retired on Thursday as Director General of Police (DGP), Training, told PTI.
The tragedy has transformed his life and perspective so much he resolved to dedicate his entire service life for the cause of the people.
"Your life gets transformed and your perspective undergoes changes. The incident (assassination) made me think of what I can do for the people. This changed my career and I never aspired for position or power, but consistently involved in equipping and encouraging people," Prateep V Phillip said, adding his sole goal in his service life was to humanise the police force.
"Now taking stock after over three decades in service, I still find the Friends of Police (FoP) methodology and concept that I launched (in 1993) transforming countries across geographies," he claimed. His colleagues appreciated his innovative concept of FoP and said it worked very well.