Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill, who had played a major role in wiping out militancy from Punjab in the '90s and had advised Gujarat and Chhattisgarh governments on security, died here on Friday after suffering compilications arising out of kidney failure and heart disease.
Kanwar Singh Pal Gill, 82, died at 2:55 p.m. at the Sir Gangaram Hospital where he was admitted on May 18. Gill was suffering from the end-stage kidney failure and significant ischemic heart disease. He had been recovering from peritonitis but died of sudden cardiac arrest due cardiac arrhythmia, said nephrologist D.S. Rana, who had treated Gill.
Known for his no-nonsense attitude, Gill was a controversial figure and several groups had levelled allegations of human rights violations against him while he battled insurgency.
There was also a case of sexual harassment filed by Indian Administrative Service officer Rupan Deol Bajaj, a case in which he was convicted and sentenced to three months' imprisonment in 1996. But after an appeal in the Supreme Court, the jail sentence was reduced to probation.
When Punjab faced a serious problem of insurgency by Khalistan extremists in the 1980s, Gill was Director General of Police from 1988 to 1990 and then again from 1991 to 1995 till his retirement.
Before Gill, the state had contracted the services of another top cop, Julius Ribeiro from Maharashtra, who had contributed his might in eliminating terror. In a controversial decision, Gill expanded a bounty system of rewards for police who killed militants -- a practice his detractors alleged encouraged the police to resort to extra-judicial killings.
Gill was largely credited with having dealt with militancy in Punjab with an iron hand and with breaking the back of the Khalistani movement. During the militancy and even a little later, scores of political leaders and police officials lost their lives in the terror that held sway in the state in the '80s and the '90s.
Notable among them was Akali Dal leader Harcharan Singh Longowal, who signed the Punjab Accord with the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and the then Chief Minister Beant Singh.
Gill was not deterred by the anti-Centre discourse that took place after 'Operation Blue Star' in 1984, and he dared to command "Operation Black Thunder" in 1988 to again flush out militants hiding in the Harmandar Saheb, the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The operation offended the Sigh high priests and they held the then Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala "guilty" of being 'anti-sect' for ordering the anti-militant campaign. Later, Barnala made amends by offering apologies and doing 'kar sewa' at the Golden Temple.
In 2000, the government of Sri Lanka sought Gill's expertise as an anti-militancy expert to draw a counter-terrorism strategy against the dreaded LTTE, the Lankan Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Two years later, after the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat, Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister appointed him a security advisor in the state.
Gill was also considered an expert on the north-east region where he had worked in his initial years in the Indian Police Service (IPS), essentially in Assam. The Chhattisgarh government also later appointed him a security advisor to help check Maoists' menace between 2005 and 2009.
Gill's interests also spread to hockey. He had remained at the helm as the Indian Hockey Federation President for long but controversies did not spare him there too.