Address(Excerpts) by Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, Honourable Vice President at the Rustamji Memorial Lecture – 2023 & the 20th Investiture Ceremony of BSF in New Delhi on May 24, 2023.

New Delhi | May 24, 2023

Very warm greetings to everyone. I have no hesitation in indicating that I stand charged, energised, motivated and inspired when I greet these heroes. Each one of them reflected sublime commitment and nationalism which we all need to emulate.

I am extremely happy and delighted to be associated with the 20th Investiture Ceremony of the brave men and women of the BSF who in the service of the nation exemplify courage, valour and dedication.

This Investiture Ceremony is a momentous occasion to recognise and honour our bravehearts for their exceptional contributions. When I interacted with each of them, they were drawn from all over the country and one of them was from Sainik School, an instant connection with me. Congratulations to all of them parents and families they have made all of them very proud.

To honour deserving individuals engaged in public service is our obligation. And we should be discharging it as often as possible.

राष्ट्र के प्रहरियों को मेरा नमन।                      

•       थार का तपता मरुस्थल हो,

•       कच्छ के रण का दलदल हो,

•       कश्मीर की बर्फीली चोटियां हों,

•       या फिर पूर्वोत्तर भारत के घने जंगल,

•      आप लोग कठिन से कठिन परिस्थिति में, देश की सीमाओं की 24*7 रखवाली करते हो।

आज मैं बल के सभी बहादुर जवानों को उनकी राष्ट्रसेवा और समर्पण के लिए नमन करता हूँ। भारत को ‘सीमा सुरक्षा बल’ पर नाज है।

What is more important is that the credit should go to their families as they are there spinal strength who sustains their morale. We must salute to all the families who contribute human resources to BSF that allows us sound sleep. Look at their motto which says it all “जीवन पर्यन्त कर्तव्य” । इस वाक्य को BSF के हर व्यक्ति ने, हर विषम परिस्थिति में, सब कुछ न्योथावर करने के बाद भी चरितार्थ किया है। में उनको नमन करता हूँ। I salute their passion, commitment and devotion to duty in realizing the mission which is ultimate essence of our nationalism.

Raised under the charismatic leadership of Shri K F Rustam ji, BSF has evolved into a modern, disciplined and a capable force. It is an honour for me to deliver the Rustam ji Memorial Lecture 2023. When I look at Rustam ji, what a change he catalysed in the world of Law, such historic memorable milestones were generated by that great person. KF Rustam ji catalysed the most significant and soothing movement for protection of human rights. The man who set up the Border Security Force and also laid the firm foundations for the Public Interest Litigation in the Indian Judicial System.

The National Police Commission (NPC), the first of its kind in post-Independence India, was constituted in 1977. The need for NPC was felt because the largest democracy on the earth was visited by a dark era of emergency in 1975, that saw large scale Human Rights violations, decline of Institutions, something which the founding fathers of the Constitution never imagined. A large number of people were put behind the bars. They had no access to the judiciary so when there was a turn of events politically, the National Police Commission came into being in 1977. This NPC had an important component that was in the shape of Rustom ji, he was one of its glorious members. 

In 1978, Rustamji visited the jails in Bihar and scripted about the conditions he was greatly moved, and he thought he would have to catalyse affirmative action’s because many prisoners were in jail for a period much beyond the maximum permissible period. This brought about the basis for the first Public Interest Litigation case, Hussainara Khatoon vs State of Bihar, which led to the release of 40,000 undertrials all over India and was responsible for the phenomenon of judicial activism in India.

Rustamji’s reflection encapsulated his anguish “How can such a situation exist in our country? We must do something about it!’’ If he had sat quietly, those people would have been languishing in jail. But he tried and succeeded. A passionate nationalist, Rustamji also wrote extensively on minority rights of Hindus and Muslims, and rued the fact that his journalistic writings were not acknowledged. Every word which he said reverberates in our ears now, sensitises our mind.

K.F. Rustamji, who was chief of the Madhya Pradesh police and later founder Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF), worked as the chief security officer of Prime Minister Nehru from 1952 to 1958. Rustamji maintained a diary right from the time he joined the service in 1938 and continued in it for more than three decades.

In August 1965, he was handpicked by Prime Minister, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri to head the newly formed Border Security Force.

Shri Rustamji, a man of exceptional qualities and vision, demonstrated bravery, honesty and hard work and glorified all assignments including his role in the BSF's exceptional performance during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War earning the force widespread admiration and praise. After his retirement in 1974, he was never tired. As Special Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, he structured the BSF, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and the Central Industrial Security Force in the Central Police Organisation. He also initiated the formation of the Indian Coast Guard. 

Conferment of the second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan to him in 1991 was a befitting recognition and tribute to his sublime service to the nation. Though he was born a Parsi on May 22, 1916, he was cremated, according to his wishes, as per Hindu rituals in March 2003.  He will always remain etched in our memories as a great leader, manager, strategist, writer, thinker, a police officer and a humanist.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the saga of BSF does not end. There is another distinguished BSF DG who is passionately taking Rustomji’s baton and torch to higher level. I am making reference to Prakash Singh Ji, a former BSF DG. He has been working with passion, dedication and vision to bring about Police reforms in India. After his retirement from service in 1996, he filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India. Ten years thereafter in 2006, we had another significant judgement from the Supreme Court, when a foundation was given to those in governance on how to allow Police to function and to be in the service of the nation.

Sovereignty and integrity of our country are inviolable, we all are committed to it. There could be no thought of ever compromising it. The challenges which the BSF faces are numerous due to the length, porosity and the complexity of the border. 

National security is the cornerstone of our country's progress and prosperity. It is the responsibility of every citizen to contribute to our nation's security, and the BSF stands at the forefront of this noble endeavour. 

सीमा सुरक्षा के साथ बी.एस.एफ. के लोग नक्सलवाद, आंतरिक सुरक्षा चुनौतियों को जब मिटाते हैं, उनके परिवार के ऊपर बहुत बीतती है। ऐसी परिस्थित में उनके हर परिजन को मैं Salute करता हूँ, हमें उन पर नाज है।

I appeal to all state governments, particularly border states, to be extremely sympathetic and sensitive to the Border Security Force. There must take border security force in precedence to their own. The leadership of the BSF will always be willing to collaborate with the State Governments. I appeal to all State  Governments to take all affirmative steps, sensitise their mechanism, so that morale of the BSF is ever sustained high. 

In 2022, BSF seized 300 kilograms of heroin, 10,000 firearms and cattle in thousands. With the challenges that BSF has, its efficiency will go up if citizens take it upon themselves to be an extension of BSF. 

Ladies and gentlemen. We are at a time in our country in Amrit Kaal, when India is on the rise as never before. The rise is unstoppable. The incremental growth trajectory will ever go high, by 2047, Bharat will be a global leader. Just a decade ago. We were the 11th largest global economy in the world. In September 2022, we had the distinction of being the fifth largest global economy. 

If we see the 700 million internet users, we have our data consumption per capita is more than China and USA taken together. It's a silent Revolution और ये क्यूं संभंव है, इसका आक प्रमुख कारण है जो सीमा पर कठिन परिस्थिति में प्रांण प्रण से सेवा करते हैं। उनसे कोई चूक होगी ये गड़बड़ा सकती है। 

Security is integrated & intertwined into economic development, peace and harmony. And therefore you are really engaged by your unwavering commitment, self service and sacrifice in taking care of the holistic growth of the nation. 

भारतमाता की रक्षा में अपने प्राणों की आहुति देने वाले BSF के सभी जवानों-अधिकारियों को मैं विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि देता हूं। मेरी संवेदनाए उन शहीदों के परिजनों के साथ हैं। 

I can tell you, as Governor, I visited every household that lost a BSF Warrior. Me and my wife, both of us went there. I want every senior official, senior constitutional functionary to make it a practice. It is not a solace to the family, it is solace to a category that is helping us survive the way we are. 

मैं आप सभी के उज्ज्वल भविष्य की कामना करता हूं। Jai Hind !