ASK KPS Gill, the veteran cop who is a household name from his Punjab days, if he feels like he is on the wrong side of age and the reply is an immediate and emphatic, “Certainly not’’. Ask him what still keeps him going and his list is long — his love for poetry, his liking for good company, the various challenges thrown at him from time to time, and yes, mental stimulation. Tease him about his love of female company and he laughs, saying, “men, women and children.”
Known as the man responsible for containing the Punjab insurgency in its most violent phase when the demand for ‘Khalistan’ saw grisly bus massacres — Hindu passengers were segregated and shot — Gill has courted controversy for violating human rights, for allegedly pinching the bottom of a senior bureaucrat and for being an advisor to Narendra Modi soon after the 2002 carnage.
Retirement has not seen the six-feet tall ‘super cop’ pale into the shadows, and as if in pure celebration of life, he pointedly says that if he is not penning a series of articles on Naxalism for a daily newspaper, he is in Vrindavan, spending time with poor children whom he gives free medical aid. In between, he finds he’s ‘breaking news’ on television channels for his controversial tenure as the President of the Indian Hockey Federation.
He is not living life at the same pace — the speed of a bullet — as he did through his challenging police assignments in Assam and Punjab, but Gill is enjoying his 70s; even if it is within the sometimes claustrophobic confines of his Lutyen’s bungalow in Delhi. He is a marked man and is constantly under the watchful gaze of gun-carrying commandos – even when he is cycling on the lawns, which he does regularly for an hour every day. That’s a must and an important part of his daily regimen.
He lives life king-size, he says, and like when he was a Director General of Police and people came calling on him at his office, visitors still turn up at his house. Once a regular at Delhi’s India International Centre — often referred to as the place where octogenarians meet — Gill now prefers his books as companions. “They never fail to stimulate me,’’ says the man who can look back on life and turn out several books himself. Perhaps a thought he might soak in, over his next tipple.