Ratan Lal was the talking point among his colleagues and seniors because his moustache was similar to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who had shot down a Pak F-16 fighter jet that day.
Exactly a year later, the 42-year-old policeman died a heroic death while bravely fighting rioters in northeast Delhi. He had joined
Delhi Police in 1998 as a constable.
Lal was currently posted in Gokulpuri. The ACP he reported to was also injured in the riots. Known to be a confident and brave cop, Lal led many raids conducted by Gokulpuri police in the last few years because of his strong built.
“An outstanding policeman with indefatigable attitude and tremendous positive energy,” recalled additional DCP Brijender Yadav to whom Lal reported to a few years ago. Yadav, in his profile as ACP (Gokulpuri), had given many citations to Lal for his excellent performance.
Born in a middle-class family in Sikar, Rajasthan, Lal was the eldest among three brothers and a sister. He lived with his wife and three children — two girls aged 11 and 12 and a boy aged 8 — in north Delhi’s Burari. He had promised his children that they would celebrate Holi at their village in Tihawali. He had lost his father a decade ago. His mother has not been informed of his death as yet.
“My brother-in law informed us about his death and we immediately switched off the TV so that our mother does not see anything. She knows we are hiding something from her as people are coming to meet us more than usual. She doesn’t know how to use social media, so she cannot get to know of his death online,” said a family member.
Speaking to TOI, Lal’s younger brother Dinesh said, “He was a patriot. He wanted to don the uniform from the very beginning. He had immense patience. We never saw him scream or shout at people. He last came over a month ago when a relative had passed away.”
Dinesh appealed to people not to be violent. “I lost my brother today, but tomorrow it could be anyone else,” he added.
Lal’s colleagues said he would always volunteer for difficult and dangerous assignments. “He was instrumental in nabbing the accused in a gruesome rape of two tribal women in 2013 and in an act of vandalism committed by a group of wrestlers at a restaurant in Seemapuri,” said an officer.
His villagers have demanded a “martyr” status for him and that he be consigned to flames with full state honours. They have also demanded that the government school in Tihawali be named after Lal.