Punjab police in a colonial hangover.

PUNJAB police is one of the oldest and the most traditional departments of the province, and its culture, history and behaviour patterns are all rooted in the British era. The culture and tradition still persist in the department, and are something like a colonial hangover where the officer still presides over his underlings like a sahib bahadur of the British Raj.

This 'locally-produced' sahib bahadur is an interesting spectacle to watch. He has a university education and speaks a concoction of English and Urdu, and still takes his pauses to find the equivalent word in Urdu of a word he knows only in English. When he is unable to find the word, his reader, who serves as an assistant to the officer, senses the tense environment and jumps in to dissipate the tension by whispering the word if he knows it, or, to announce that 'sahab ka lunch/cha'aay time ho gaya hay' [Sir will have lunch/tea now!], and everybody just leaves the office.

Sahib bahadur also has mood swings, and he starts feeling better after a rather generous and verbose rant at the other end of which stands in utter submission any of his subordinates who unfortunately happens to be present there at the time.

The underlings also recognise the fact that their sahib is other-worldly, who happens to speak English with a pop of Urdu, eats while using knives and forks, likes to eat things that...

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