There are cops of questionable integrity, and there are the miniscule few policemen who do their uniform proud. For us journalists who have climbed up the ladder, starting as crime reporters in the days when scribes did not allow the police to get away with encounters and lies, the difference is palpable. And very visible. EN Rammohan was head and shoulders above any police officer, with the exception perhaps of a very few, who should have been lauded for his integrity but unfortunately in his latter years faced the trolls for whom honesty and courage are bad words.

Retired as Director General of the Border Security Force, Rammohan was a fiercely proud officer. But he laced his professionalism with a heavy dose of compassion which he often told us was integral to the job. He spoke of his boys, present and past, with love and admiration and liked nothing more than to share his experience in the field, bringing out the good cop tales to counter our cynicism and unhappiness with the paramilitary forces.

Rammohan did not retire. He could not as he cared too much for the people and for the truth to do that. He accompanied a fact finding delegation that some of us had organised to Kunan Poshpora in Jammu and Kashmir where he had served, and also went with a group of journalists and academics to Assam to investigate killings in Bodo territory. On both occasions he was amazing, and held us spellbound during the journey with his stories; and after the visit with his ability to sift the wheat from the chaff, keeping the facts sacred.

Charming, always smiling, a gentleman to the last word Rammohan was extremely popular amongst all those in love, like he was, with Indian democracy. For him Kashmir needed peace to strengthen democracy; the people needed justice so that they could be equal stakeholders; the BSF was a professional force but misled by officers unable to lead from the front. He always did. Whether he was writing a report after retirement, or when he took the lead in uniform, Rammohan earned respect and affect wherever he was based.

I remember a particularly arduous travel to Bodo territory, from Delhi to Assam and then by car through the rough terrain. Younger persons than him in the group were a bit irritable and tired. But not Rammohan who did not flag even for a minute, speaking at length to the villagers, questioning the authorities, and making it clear that he as a proud police officer of India was not going to accept injustice. He never made any demands, there was nothing he wanted during a visit. He was always there, taking care of himself, a professional who we all learnt to admire and respect within hours of knowing him. At the same time there was a certain naivety behind the military moustache, an idealism and optimism that life had not punctured.

Rammohan kept a distance from politics. A wide distance really, as he did not care for any political party. His reach out after retirement was to the people at large, where he was willing to join any voice against injustice, add his to make a wrong right but not even once in our long journeys together did I hear him express preference for any one political party. That was a room he had decided never to enter, a rule he never breached.

He was a favourite with all of us. I had spoken to him briefly a short while ago, when he was well and greeted one with the usual loud and welcoming good morning. He was a healthy 77, or so we thought and it is only now after he died from the immediate cause of a rib fracture, that we learnt he was also suffering from prostate cancer. A man who never turned the spotlights on himself, only on the BSF that he loved with barely hidden passion, and on the people who he he had always seen as being at the receiving end of the stick.

A big loss for us who knew him. Irreplaceable. We will miss you deeply Sir!!