Thursday 6 June 2013

The cop who stopped a Maharaja

The recent brouhaha over the suspension of a police inspector of Mysore merely on the ground that he had booked a case against the son of the present Chief Minister of Karnataka shows both the Chief Minister and the police in poor light.
While the media has highlighted the action of the Commissioner of Police, Mysore, in suspending an inspector for booking a case against the Chief Minister’s son during the recent Assembly elections, it has not highlighted similar incidents in the past and how the high and mighty dealt with it.
This is the story of one of the finest police officers of Mysore, who even today is fondly remembered by old timers and many in the police department for his devotion, strictness and uprightness. This cop, till date, remains the only person to have flagged down the Maharaja’s car.
This is how the incident happened and more importantly please note the manner in which the Maharaja behaved.
It was sometime in the 1950s and Mysore then was a small City and its most important resident was the Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar (1919-1974).
The Kingdom of Mysore had acceded to India and the Maharaja had only his palaces and property and no kingdom. Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar was the last Maharaja of Mysore (his son-Srikantadatta Natasimharaja Wodeyar is only a Yuvaraja.) and though he had signed the Instrument of Accession with India in August 1947, the State was merged with the Republic of India only on January 26, 1950.
Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar also held the position of  Rajpramukh of the State of Mysore from January 26, 1950 to November 11, 1956 and the Governor of the unified state of Mysore (after the integration of the neighboring Kannada-majority parts of the States of Madras and Hyderabad) from November 1,1956 to May 4, 1964. He was also the Governor of the State of Madras (Tamil Nadu) from May 4, 1964 to June 28,1966.
At his death, aged 55, on September 23, 1974, he was the last living prince of the erstwhile princely states with a 21-gun salute.
Coming back to the story of the Maharaja and the cop, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar was in Mysore and one evening, he went out for an official engagement. When he was proceeding to the Rajendra Vilas Palace on Chamundi Hills from his main palace, it was already late in the evening and the street lights had already been switched on. Suddenly, the speeding car jerked to a abrupt halt.
The Maharaja’s driver had been signaled by a cop to halt. When the Maharaja rolled down the windows and looked out, he found Kuttappa, the traffic cop.
Kuttappa saluted the Maharaja and addressed him respectfully saying that it was evening and the car’s headlights-this car was a Rolls Royce with the royal insignia- had not been switched on. This, Kuttappa said, is a traffic offence.
What do you think was the reaction of the Maharaja. He apologized for the lapse, chided the driver and asked him to switch on the headlights. Needless to say, Kuttappa stepped aside and allowed the car to proceed to the Chamundi Hills.
Now, contrast the behavior of the Maharaja with our present day Maharajas and these are our politicians and bureaucrats. They love ostentation, honors, escorts, red beacons and what not. Forget about filing a case, see what happens if you dare to cross their path or overtake them on the road. Remember the incident of a minister in the previous BJP Government who let all hell loose when his car was overtaken by an ordinary person on a road.
There are numerous other instances but I have concentrated only on Mysore as both the incidents occurred in the royal city-one literally involving the Maharaja and another a man who claims to take pride on belonging to the common stock.  

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