Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Analysis: Story Of Kiran 'Crane' Bedi More Myth Than Fact

How much of what we hear about Kiran Bedi is based on facts; how much is fiction and what portion of it is just fantasy, including her own? As facts—not new but old—re-emerge, it is becoming easier to separate Bedi from her myth and the image from the person.

We have known Bedi as a no-nonsense cop who had the guts to ‘tow away’ Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s car; a gutsy officer who didn’t flinch for a second before taking on politicians and a brave woman who was not scared to face the consequences of taking on the establishment.

But, a part of her legend appears to be a myth, endorsed by the media and cleverly marketed by Bedi herself.

In April 2010, Bedi was invited to speak at a programme for students in Bhopal. Among other things, she spoke about the legend of Crane Bedi.
"I knew that I will be transferred when I decided to lift Indira Gandhi's car (for wrong parking). I gave a thought to it and decided to do what was right then," Bedi told a student who asked her about her daring decision to remove the car of none other than Indira Gandhi herself and what happened after that.

Bedi said, "Wahi hua jo sabeke saath hota hai" (same thing happened which happens with all others). I was transferred to Goa the next day but that did not deter me from doing right things because of my strong foundation of knowledge and value system."

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Here are the facts of the case, sourced from Bedi’s own website.A white ambassador car (DHD 1817) was parked outside a shop in Connaught Circus on August 5, 1982. When a sub-inspector of the traffic police saw it parked in a no-parking zone, he issued a challan—not to the driver but to the owner of the shop— and refused to withdraw it even after being told that it was from the PM’s fleet.

The PM and her family were not even in India. The driver had gone to CP alone, perhaps for buying some accessories for the car. ‘Crane Bedi’ was not around either at the time of the incident. But later she took credit for the whole incident, edging the inspector out of the narrative.
So, was she transferred to Goa next morning for annoying Indira Gandhi? No.

Bedi not only continued in her post, she was also entrusted the responsibility of managing traffic during the Asian Games at Delhi (November-December 1982). She was sent to Goa in March 1983, a full seven more months after the incident at CP. And that too because she was found suitable for making arrangements for the CHOGM summit hosted by India in Goa.

In hindsight, it appears Bedi was actually rewarded for her performance in the Indira raj and handpicked for high-profile assignments like the Asian Games and the CHOGM summits. And her image of Crane Bedi may be a result of the carte blanche given to her by the government during an important event like the Asian Games.

This is not an isolated incident of myth-making. As pointed out by Firstpost earlier, Bedi has played the ‘wronged victim’ several times in her career, arguing that she was denied important posts, including the job of Delhi’s top cop, because she didn’t bend before politicians. And she is fond of ascribing higher, exalted motives for her inability to complete her terms to explain her frequent transfers.

Could the opposite be true about Kiran Bedi? Instead of being penalized by politicians, was she a beneficiary of her proximity to the system?
Bedi was, for instance, in Indira Gandhi’s good books. The former PM even invited Bedi to meet her after she became the first woman IPS officer in the country. Later, during Rajiv Gandhi’s government, when Bedi got into trouble because of Justice Wadhwa committee’s probe into her role in a lathi charge on Tis Hazari lawyers, she was saved by the then home minister Buta Singh, who refused to suspend her in spite of pressure from lawyers and politicians.

Of course, she had several spats with politicians. In 1995, the then Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana had accused Bedi of giving VIP treatment to Charles Sobhraj, who was lodged in Tihar jail.

Bedi, who was the jail superintendent, was well within her rights to allow Sobhraj the use of a typewriter and some other liberties. But that didn’t stop Khurana from ranting against her.

During the strike by Tis Hazari lawyers, most of the political parties—including the BJP led by Khurana— ganged up against Bedi, seeking her immediate suspension. When it comes to myths, a petty squabble with Khurana over a notorious bikini killer is nothing compared to the legend of a spat with Indira Gandhi. But, as Mark Twain famously said, never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.
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