Sadhvi Pragya, a contestant from the Bhopal constituency, made some unfortunate remarks referring to the late Hemant Karkare Indian Police Service, Chief of ATS, Mumbai Police. She has since retracted. Hemant Karkare fell to terrorist bullets on 26/11 in the line of duty while defending his country.

He would probably be alive today had he not volunteered to return to the Maharashtra cadre from a plum posting at the Centre with the specific intention of working with the Anti-Terror Squad to prevent and investigate the activities of terrorists so that the rest of us could sleep safe in our beds.

The country owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Anything that detracts from this is worthy of strong condemnation.

This despicable and regrettable statement of Pragya Thakur only serves to highlight the need to publicly recognise the supreme sacrifice made by the 35,000 police personnel from all corners of India who since Independence have laid down their lives in the line of duty.

Under-resourced and often working 24x7 in the most challenging conditions, these brave men and women have unflinchingly answered the call of duty, even when it called for the ultimate sacrifice.

As former DGPs from across the country we urge all candidates in these Lok Sabha elections to seek out and honour the families of these martyrs who live in their constituencies. We also urge them to commit, to engaging with every effort to improve the delivery of policing services to their constituents.

One way of doing this would be to adopt one Police Station each year and take up schemes under MPLAD that would make this a model police station, while ensuring required facilities for the thana staff and their families. That would be a real and meaningful tribute to the supreme sacrifices made by Hemant Karkare and thousands of other valiant police personnel.

Julio Ribeiro, DGP Punjab (Retd)

Prakash Singh, DGP UP Assam and BSF (Retd)

P.K.H. Tharakan, DGP Kerala (Retd)

Kamal Kumar, DGP National Police Academy, Hyderabad (Retd)

Jacob Punoose, DGP Kerala (Retd)

Sanjeev Dayal, DGP Maharashtra ( Retd)

Jayanto N. Choudhury, DGP Assam and NSG (Retd)

N Ramachandran, DGP Meghalaya (Retd)