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Famous Awardees

Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi
  • Bedi was born on 9 June 1949 in Amritsar, in a well-to-do Punjabi business family. She is the second child of Prakash Lal Peshawaria and Prem Lata. She has three sisters: Shashi, Reeta and Anu.
  • Bedi’s upbringing was not very religious, but she was brought up in both Hindu and Sikh traditions.Prakash Lal helped with the family’s textile business.
  • Muni Lal(grandfather) was opposed to his grandchild being educated in a Christian school. However, Prakash Lal declared financial independence, and went on to enroll all his daughters, including Kiran, in the same school.
  • Bedi started her formal studies in 1954, at the Sacred Heart Convent School in Amritsar. She participated in National Cadet Corps.
  • At that time, Sacred Heart did not offer science; instead, it had a subject called household, which was aimed at grooming girls into good housewives.
  • When she was in Class 9, Bedi joined Cambridge College, a private institute that offered science education and prepared her for matriculation exam.
  • Bedi graduated in 1968, with a BA (Honours) in English, from Government College for Women at Amritsar.
  • The same year, she won the NCC Cadet Officer Award. In 1970, she obtained a master’s degree in political science from Panjab University, Chandigarh.
  • From 1970 to 1972, Bedi taught as a lecturer at Khalsa College for Women in Amritsar.
  • She taught courses related to political science. Later, during her career in the Indian Police Service, she also earned a law degree at Delhi University in 1988 and a Ph.D. from IIT Delhi’s Department of Social Sciences in 1993
  • On 16 July 1972, Bedi started her police training at the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie. She was the only woman in a batch of 80 men, and became the first woman IPS officer.
  • Bedi’s first posting was to the Chanakyapuri subdivision of Delhi in 1975. Her daughter Sukriti (later Saina) was born in September 1975.
  • Chanakyapuri was an affluent area that included the Parliament building foreign embassies, and the residences of the Prime Minister and the President.
  • During the 1970s, there were many clashes between Nirankari and Akali Sikhs. On 15 November 1978, a group of Nirankaris held a congregation near India Gate. A contingent of 700–800 Akalis organized a demonstration against them. DCP Bedi’s platoon was deployed to stop the protesters and prevent violence.
  • Ultimately, her unit was able to disperse the demonstrators. For this action, Bedi was awarded the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry (1979), in October 1980.
  • Within 3 months, there was a reduction in crimes. There was a drop in cases related to “eve teasing” (sexual harassment of women) and wife beating. This gained her the goodwill of local women, who also volunteered their services to help fight crime in the area.
  • Her team towed improperly parked vehicles using six tow trucks (“cranes”) for traffic control. This earned her the nickname “Crane Bedi”.
  • She also bought traffic police jeeps for her officers; for the first time, four wheelers were allocated to inspectors in the traffic unit. After the Asian Games were over, she was given Asian Jyoti award for excellence. She refused to accept the award for herself alone.
  • After the Asian Games were over, she was transferred to Goa for 3 years.
  • In 1986, Bedi became DCP of Delhi’s North District, where the primary problem was drug abuse. At that time, Delhi had only one centre for treatment of drug addicts – Ashiana, which was run by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation.
  • With help from her superiors, Bedi set up a detox center in one of the police premises. The center relied on community donations of furniture, blankets, medicines and other supplies.
  • The initiative was widely noticed, and Bedi travelled all over India, giving presentations and lectures on the programme.
  • In January 1988, the Delhi Police caught a man stealing from a girl’s purse at St. Stephen’s College. A few weeks later, he was arrested again for trespassing into a women’s toilet.One of Bedi’s officers arrested and handcuffed the man.
  • The man had given a different name when he was arrested, and his lawyer colleagues claimed that he had been falsely framed.The lawyers organized a strike and led a procession to DCP (North) office. Not finding DCP Bedi at the office, the lawyers manhandled Additional DCP Sandhu.
  • On 21 January, the police lathi-charged the striking lawyers in Tis Hazari complex.This further enraged the lawyers.
  • For the next two months, the lawyers stopped courts from functioning in Delhi and neighbouring states, demanding Bedi’s resignation.
  • The strike was called off after the Delhi High Court constituted a two-judge committee to investigate the matter. Known as Wadhwa Commission, the committee consisted of Justice DP Wadhwa and Justice NN Goswamy.
  • Even before the report was made public, in April 1988, the Union Government transferred Bedi to the post of Deputy Director (Operations) in the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), also in Delhi.
  • After Bedi was censured by the Wadhwa Commission, it was decided to transfer her out of Delhi. She wanted a challenging posting in either Andamans, Arunachal Pradesh or Mizoram.
  • They pointed out that officers who were given Mizoram posting refused to go there, while Bedi was volunteering to go there. Bedi reported to the Mizoram Government in Aizawl on 27 April 1990. Her designation was Deputy Inspector General (Range).
  • The major crime in the district was heroin smuggling across the Burmese border. A number of teenagers were drug addicts.Since Mizoram was a Christian-majority state, Bedi utilized Christian prayers to reduce drug and alcohol-induced criminal behavior.
  • In May 1993, she was posted to the Delhi Prisons as inspector general (IG).
  • The Tihar Jail of Delhi was built as a four-jail complex with a capacity of 2,500 prisoners. However, by the time Bedi became its in-charge, its prisoner population varied from 8,000 to 9,500.
  • About 90% of its inmates were undertrials, who had been accused of non-bailable offences. Some of them had been waiting for years to get a trial in a badly clogged court system. Tihar was notorious as a violent and unmanageable place, and no officer wanted to be posted there.
  • Bedi decided to turn Tihar into a model prison. She introduced several reforms. She arranged separate barracks for the hardened criminals, who had been using their time in prison to recruit gang members, sell contraband and extort money.
  • For other prisoners, Bedi arranged vocational training with certificates, so that they could find a job after their release. During her tenure, Indira Gandhi National Open University and National Open School set up their centers inside the prison.
  • Bedi banned smoking in the prison. She introduced yoga and Vipassana meditation classes to change the prisoners’ attitudes. She organized additional activities such as sports, prayer, and festival celebrations.
  • A bakery and small manufacturing units, including carpentry and weaving units, were set up in the jail. The profits from the products sold were put into the prisoners’ welfare fund.
  • She also established petition boxes so that prisoners could write to the IG about any issue. In this prison reform programme, Bedi involved outsiders – including NGOs, schools, civilians and former inmates.
  • As a result of Bedi’s reforms, there was a drop in the fights and disturbances in the jail. Even the hardened criminals, who had been isolated in separate barracks, started behaving well.
  • In May 1994, Bedi organized a ‘health day’, during which around 400 doctors and paramedics were invited to attend to Tihar’s patients.
  • Bedi’s reform programme at Tihar received worldwide acclaim. But it also attracted envy from her superiors, who accused her of diluting prison security for personal glory.
  • In 1994, Bedi was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Nehru Fellowship. The US President Bill Clinton invited her to National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C
  • Sometime later, Bedi was invited by the United Nations to discuss social reintegration of prisoners at the Copenhagen Social Summit.
  • MAJOR charge against Bedi was giving undue favours to the notorious criminal Charles Sobhraj.
  • Bedi accused “unethical politicians” of “telling lies, making false allegations and misinforming people”.
  • After her removal from Tihar, Bedi was posted as head of training at the police academy on 4 May 1995.Her designation was Additional Commissioner (policy and planning).
  • On 5 April 1999, she was appointed as Inspector-General of Police in Chandigarh. Her mother accompanied her, but soon suffered a stroke and went into coma.
  • Bedi requested a transfer back to Delhi, where her family would be able to take care of her mother. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs transferred her back to Delhi on 15 May. However, her mother died in Delhi three days later, after having been in coma for 41 days.
  • In 2003, Bedi became the first woman to be appointed the United Nations civilian police adviser. She worked in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In 2005, she returned to Delhi after her UN stint.
  • The lawyers, who had still not forgiven Bedi for the 1988 controversy.In 2007, Bedi applied for the post of Delhi Police Commissioner.
  • Bedi resigned from police service in November 2007, citing personal reasons. She stated that she wanted to focus on academic and social work
  • The Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation founded by Bedi and her colleagues was renamed to Navjyoti India Foundation in 2007. Since its establishment, the Foundation received strong support
  • Over next 25 years, it provided residential treatment to nearly 20,000 drug and alcohol addicts. It also started crime prevention programmes such as education of street children and slum kids.
  • It established 200 single-teacher schools, vocational training centers, health care facilities and counselling centers for the vulnerable sections of society.
  • Bedi set up India Vision Foundation (IVF) in 1994. IVF works in fields of police reforms, prison reforms, women empowerment and rural and community development.
  • In October 2010, Arvind Kejriwal invited Bedi to join him in exposing the CWG scam. Bedi accepted the invitation, and by 2011, the two had allied with other activists, including Anna Hazare, to form India Against Corruption (IAC) group.
  • Their campaign evolved into the 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement.
  • Bedi split from IAC after a faction led by Arvind Kejriwal formed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2012.
  • During the 2014 Indian general election, Bedi publicly supported Narendra Modi, Kejriwal, on the other hand, contested the election against Modi.
  • After Modi won and became the Prime Minister of India, Bedi stated that she was ready to be BJP’s CM candidate in Delhi, if such an offer was made to her. Eight months after Modi’s election,
  • she joined BJP in 2015. She was BJP’s Chief Minister (CM) candidate for the 2015 Delhi Assembly electionsShe lost the election from Krishna Nagar constituency
  • On 22 May 2016, Bedi was appointed as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.
  • In 1960, he suffered a heart attack. He was treated by top doctors in India, including his friend Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal.
  • His health started deteriorating and he died on 7 March 1961 at the age of 74, from a cerebral stroke. At that time he was still in office as the Home Minister of India.