Kanwar Pal Singh Gill: Indian police officer (1934 - 2017) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Kanwar Pal Singh Gill
Indian police officer

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Indian police officer
Was Police officer
From India
Field Law
Gender male
Birth 1934, Ludhiana, India
Death 26 May 2017, New Delhi, India (aged 83 years)
Padma Shri in civil service  
The details (from wikipedia)


Kanwar Pal Singh Gill (December 29, 1934 – 26 May 2017) was an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. He served twice as Director General of Police (DGP) for the state of Punjab, India, where he is credited with having brought the Punjab insurgency under control. While many see him as a hero, there are accusations that he and the forces under his command were responsible for human rights violations "in the name of stamping out terrorism." Gill retired from the IPS in 1995.

Gill was an author, editor, speaker, consultant on counter-terrorism, and served as president of the Institute for Conflict Management and president of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).



Gill joined the Indian Police Service in 1958 and was assigned to the Assam and Meghalaya states in northeast India.

In the early 1980s, Gill served as Inspector General of Police in Assam. Vinayak Ganapathy, writing for rediff.com in 2003, noted "Gill's no-nonsense style of functioning, which earned him the sobriquet 'supercop' in Punjab, made him unpopular among influential sections of the population" in Assam and called him "a controversial figure". While Director General of police in Assam, Gill was charged with kicking a demonstrator to death, but was acquitted by the Delhi High Court. Gill lived in the northeast region of India for 28 years, returning to his home state of Punjab in 1984.


He has been called a "supercop", for his work in Punjab, where he was the Director General of Police from 1988 to 1990 and then again from 1991 until his retirement from the Indian Police Service in 1995.

During this era when Sikh extremists in the Khalistan movement were active in Punjab, there were reports of human rights violations in the Punjab region. Amnesty International reported that, from 1983 to 1994, armed groups struggling to form an independent Sikh state, assassinating perpetrators of the 1984 Sikh pogroms or Congress Party members, and taking hostages. It further reported that the police responded with a "crackdown", illegally detaining, torturing and killing "hundreds of young men". Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that from the 1980s Sikh separatists were guilty of targeted assassinations and attacks upon Hindu minorities in the Punjab state. HRW also reported that the government response resulted in further serious human rights violations against "tens of thousands". HRW report in 1991 described the security forces using “increasingly brutal methods to stem the militant movement, resulting in widespread human rights violations.” Thousands of civilians and suspected militants were summarily executed in staged "encounter" killings. Many "disappeared" while in police custody and thousands were detained without trial and subjected to torture. The post-1991 period coincides with Gill’s second tenure as Director General of Punjab police. It is this period that witnessed the most serious escalation of violence.

In May 1988, he commanded Operation Black Thunder to flush out militants hiding in the Golden Temple. Compared to Operation Blue Star, little damage was inflicted on the Golden Temple. In what was reported as a successful operation, around 67 Sikhs surrendered and 43 were killed in the encounter. Gill stated that he did not want to repeat the mistakes made by Indian army during Operation Blue Star. In contrast to prior operations, minimum force was used under full public scrutiny.

1991 saw the peak of violence in Punjab, with more than 5000 reported killed. In 1992, the Indian government, "intent on retaking Punjab from terrorism", appointed Gill as Chief of Police in Punjab. The police and army instituted a crackdown, and in 1993 the reported death toll was less than 500. In 1993, The New York Times reported, the people of Punjab no longer feared the Sikh "rebels or gangs", but instead feared the army and police. Patricia Gossman describes Gill as having a “goal to eliminate, not merely arrest, militant Sikh leaders and members. KPS Gill also expanded a bounty system of rewards for police who killed known militants – a practice that encouraged the police to resort to extrajudicial executions and disappearances.” The police were awarded financially for killing militants. “India’s central government created a special fund to finance Punjab’s death squads, to pay the network of informants who provided information about militants and those suspected of supporting militants, and to reward police who captured and killed them”. The reward was about 50,000 rupees ($1,670). In an article in India Today on 15 October 1992 it was written that "the rush of claiming cash rewards is turning police into mercenaries. Besides the rewards for killing militants (annual outlay for the purpose: Rs 1.13 crore [$338,000]), the department gives 'unannounced rewards' for killing unlisted militants".

Jaswant Singh Khalra was a human rights activist who was taken into custody by Punjab Police on 6 September 1995. Human Rights Watch reported that an 11 September 1995 writ of habeas corpus from the Supreme Court was presented to Gill, and officials denied that police had detained him. (2005 testimony by Special Police Officer Kuldeep Singh indicated that Gill later visited Khalra in October 1995, a few days before Khalra was killed.)

Under Gill the scope of tracking down and arresting militants went beyond Punjab to other parts of India. “There were several reports during 1993 that Punjab police "hit teams" were pursuing alleged Sikh militants in other parts of India. On 17 May, one such team raided an apartment in Calcutta looking for alleged militant Lakshmi Singh. According to neighbours, Punjab police commandos broke into the apartment early that morning, shot Singh and his wife in their bedroom, then fled with the bodies. The government of West Bengal lodged a protest with the Punjab government, but no disciplinary action was reported against the police commandos".


Gill founded the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) and was its first president.

Gill began advising governments on counter-terrorism matters.

In 1997, the Chief minister of Assam state, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, requested his services as security advisor. However, since the sexual harassment case against him was pending he was not able to take this appointment.

In 1999, Delhi Police arrested Richhpal Singh, who was allegedly a Babbar Khalsa suicide bomber on a mission to assassinate Gill. He arrived in Delhi from Pakistan on an Afghan passport. Two kilograms of the explosive RDX, four detonators, and some "live wire" were recovered from him. In an interview after this incident, Gill claimed that he had been a target of four or five such assassination attempts by Babbar Khalsa and other Sikh militant groups. Gill stated that he was not afraid.


In 2000 the government of Sri Lanka sought his expertise as an anti-terrorism expert to help them draw a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam He was approached by Lakshman Kadirgamar who was the foreign minister of Sri Lanka After the defeat of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam the similarity in the tactics used by Sri Lanka with the tactics used by Gill in Punjab was noted in an article published in India Today

Gill was appointed security adviser to the state of Gujarat after 2002 Gujarat violence. Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi, commenting on his appointment, stated “It is good to have an experienced person such as Gill as my security advisor. Gill had very effectively tackled the Punjab terrorism problem.” He requested deployment of 1,000 extra specially-trained riot police from Punjab state to combat the violence. He was credited with controlling violence after his appointment. He arrived in Gujarat on 3 May 2002 He subsequently blamed a "small group" of people for the Gujarat riots.

In April 2003, there was a report that Gill was being considered for the position of governor of Assam. The Northeast Study Group, of which Gill is a member, had advised against assigning a state's previous security personnel to a state as governor. The Chief minister of Assam agreed.

Martin Regg Cohn argued in a Toronto Star editorial that policies followed in Punjab by Gill should be utilised in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. An academic paper, The Gill Doctrine: A Model for 21st Century Counterterrorism?, analysing his tactics in the successful fight against the Punjab insurgency was presented at the annual meeting of American Political Science Association on 30 August 2007.


The government of Chhattisgarh state in India appointed him a security adviser to help control Naxalites in 2006. After an attack by Naxalites killed 55 policemen in 2007 Gill commented that the issue was one of "underdevelopment in police forces. The state policy was to leave these tribal areas alone and that gave Naxalites a base. There used to be just 3,000 police for an area the size of Switzerland. That is now changing but it will take time. But yes, it is a winnable war.".

In March 2008, India's hockey team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the team's debut in 1928. Narender Batra, one of 11 IHF vice presidents, on resigning his position over the failure to qualify, accused Gill of "autocratic functioning", and called on the entire IHF staff to step down. Gill responded that the critics were "professional mourners" who were proud to "run down the establishment", and stated "I will respond to these things at a later stage. We do not have an instant coffee machine that you can get results instantly."

Alok Sinha, writing for India Times, noted that the top two executives, Gill and the Secretary-General, did not even talk to one another. There were rumours that the secretary general of the IHF, leader of the anti-Gill faction, would also resign.

Less than a month after the qualification failure, in April 2008, Aaj Tak Television reported that it had caught the Secretary-General of the IHF taking a bribe on camera to choose a player in a "sting". There were renewed calls for Gill to resign.

After the allegations of corruption, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) suspended the IHF indefinitely on 28 April 2008. IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said in a press conference that "We have great respect for K P S Gill and it is not personal."

As of September 2009, Gill remained president of the Institute for Conflict Management. As of July 2009, he was also winding up the affairs of the suspended Indian Hockey Federation as it merged with its replacement, Hockey India.

1996 conviction for sexual harassment

An Indian Administrative Service (IAS) female officer named Rupan Deol Bajaj filed a complaint against Gill for, in 1988, "patting" her "posterior" at a party where he was alleged to be drunk. In August 1996, he was convicted under Section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult a lady), generally summarised as sexual harassment.

Gill was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs 200,000 and to suffer three months rigorous imprisonment, followed by two months' ordinary imprisonment, and finally to serve three years of probation.

After final appeals before the Supreme Court in July 2005, the conviction was upheld but the jail sentences were reduced to probation. The victim had declined to accept the monetary compensation, and the court ordered that it be donated to women's organisations.

Opinion and activism

Gill was an outspoken critic of the Indian Government's handling of national security issues. He blamed it for "soft nature and under-preparedness", and argues that policy was formed without input from anti-terrorism experts, and that the country lacked a national security policy.

Awards and honours

Gill received a Padma Shri award, India's fourth-highest civilian honour, in 1989 for his work in the civil service.


Gill wrote his first book Punjab: The Knights of Falsehood in 1997 (reprinted in 2008 in paperback), covering the Punjab insurgency . The book received positive reception in the Press and was deemed to provide a "great degree of authenticity" to the narrative of the events. However, his political coverage was criticised as placing too much responsibility for the insurgency on the Akali Dal, while absolving the Indian National Congress.

Gill was editor of the quarterly journal of the ICM, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict and Resolution and also wrote the ICM website, South Asia Terrorism Portal.

He edited the 2001 book Terror And Containment: Perspectives on India's Internal Security with Ajai Sahni. With Sahni, he also co-authored The Global Threat of Terror:Ideological, Material & Political Linkages.

Other books published by Gill are

  • Most Wanted (2002)
  • The Punjab Story, (2004)
  • Islam and Religious Riots A Case Study - Riots & Wrongs (2012) by R N P Singh and K P S Gill
  • Kurh Phire Pardhan (2012) in Punjabi language
  • Punjab : The Enemies Within : Travails of a wounded land riddled with toxins, (2017) co authored with Sadhavi Khosla

Illness and death

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill was admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi on 10 May 2017. He had been suffering from peritonitis but died of sudden cardiac arrest due to cardiac arrhythmia on 26 May 2017.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 01 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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