I, Dipankan

A Memoir That Says It All

‘Son, I think you have made a mistake. You have written IPS five
times,’ said Mr Lal to me, looking at me with concern.
‘No, sir, it’s not a mistake,’ I said. ‘It is deliberate. Sir, give me IPS
or nothing.’

An extract.
Representational image: Rakesh Maria

As an avid reader who primarily loves to dwell on non-fiction, Rakesh Maria’s ‘Let Me Say it Now’ demonstrates an exemplary balance between the art of storytelling and the regular seasoning of facts. Tailored to be an introspective walk down the life of a decorated IPS officer, Maria does an excellent job at describing the highs and nays throughout his inspiring tenure spanning three decades as a Policeman.

This tell-all autobiography, published by Westland India and launched only in February, is a delightfully fresh take on the way we evaluate the netherworld of crime, and its allied offshoots. Taking the reader on a ride commencing right from the nascent years of him entering the Uniformed Service, and to egress the reader with a sense of accomplishment and relatability almost like that of his own, Maria has intrinsically woven out the plotlines to put in the minutest of details. From the 1993 Bombay serial blasts to the ensuing backdrop of gang wars in the Mumbai’s plethora of gullies, the book recounts all of his experiences as a top sleuth in the city ranks. He writes on how he, along with his team, confronted the Dawood gang, breached Arun Gawli’s supposedly impenetrable citadel, and made several efforts to dent their extortion calls and wanton scheme of murder. A host of other cases, including the Shakti Mills case, was discussed in detail.

Yet, the cherry lies towards the end, when he opens up on the horrid experience of 26/11. Rakesh Maria was then the Joint Commissioner of Police when the attack happened out of the blue. The book reveals that prior to the attack, the Force had received several intelligence inputs highlighting a possible threat to the security of the city at large; and these were acted upon timely. Yet, despite the passage of the predicted dates when the attack was to happen, the security was again normalised. On the cursed night, Maria was put at the helm of the Control Room, directing whatever scant manpower and resources existed to places that lay besieged at the hands of those external guerillas. The only rapscallion to be captured alive was Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Faridkot resident from Pakistan, who was highly indoctrinated and radicalised to view all Indians as his sworn enemy. And it was Maria, again, who had the task set to interrogate him despite all the pent-up anger naturally evolving from the untimely deaths of serving officers and constables. An explosive revelation concerning the plan to paint the attack as one bred by Hindus was also laid bare.

Maria concludes the book with the last case of his tenure as a Detection Officer when he was the CP, Mumbai. The Sheena Bora murder case had shaken the conscience of the nation. The murder of a daughter had been concealed by the powers that be for a whopping period of three years, with no one getting a whiff of the deceased. It was under his tenure that the case was detected and consequently, arrests were made. Despite his active involvement, the media painted Maria in a manner that depicted a conflict of interest on his end, and his marred image led to him being promptly shunted out as the Director General (Home Guards), which is normally viewed as a post that is an avenue for the near-retirement cadre. He features the text messages he exchanged with Devendra Fadnavis, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and goes on to highlight the long battle to reclaim his identity as a true servant for the people, as someone who would never compromise on the integrity and ethics demanded of him.

Let Me Say It Now is a perfect read for those who take a keen interest in matters detailing contemporary security and challenges. The style of writing is kept so fluid that even the layman can enjoy it. Yet, it has enough for the professional to learn from; and despite the inherent tendency to gloat on one’s own achievements, Maria has avoided that temptation. He rather makes this a riveting read that intends to erase the fine line between the reel and real. A brutally honest account, his autobiography makes for a must-read, an unputdownable page-turner that should not be missed at any cost.

4 comments

  1. A wonderful review from him. Totally spellbound knowing about this man who gave such contribution for the mass. Very eager to get a copy and have a read of the book.

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