Mumbai : A people-friendly police officer who kept his calm in the most trying of circumstances, is how top police officials described former Mumbai police commissioner and state director-general of police A.S. Samra in their tributes to him here Tuesday.
Samra passed away Sunday following prolonged heart ailment at age 70 in Chandigarh.
“He was a great and patient teacher for all of us. A team man, he would guide us and endeared himself to everyone, down to the constabulary. He was one of the best professionals and instilled discipline in the force. We shall miss him,” said Joint Police Commissioner (Law & Order) K.L. Prasad.
Present state DGP A.N. Roy described Samra as “a people-friendly and smiling officer, who could keep calm under the most intense pressures, like the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts.”
He was the police official who arrested Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt after the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
Samra headed the Mumbai police when the city experienced it worst turmoil in history including the December 1992-January 1993 communal riots that engulfed the city in the wake of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya.
On March 12, 1993, the city was ripped apart by 12 serial bomb explosions, considered among the worst terror strikes anywhere in the world.
Greater shocks were in store for the city when Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was arrested for his involvement in the bomb blasts. After a trial lasting over 13 years, Dutt was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. He is currently on bail.
Samra lost his wife Jagdish Kaur in 2002 while he was writing a book.
He is survived by his son Shivpreet S. Samra, who runs the Grecian Hospital in Chandigarh, and daughter Parina Bajaj, a doctor who is married to a senior Maharashtra IPS officer, K.L. Bajaj.
Describing him as “a professional to the core”, Pune’s chief of Crime Branch and a former associate of Samra, Meeran Borwankar said he was a performance-oriented officer with a knack for motivating his staff.
“I worked with him when I was in Kolhapur and he was my DGP. I found him a real motivator with a deep sense of fair play and justice. His qualities came to the fore when he headed the investigations into the Mumbai bomb blasts and instilled confidence in the police and the Mumbai citizens,” said Borwankar who is a former Mumbai Joint Police Commissioner (Crime).
Samra was born in 1939 in Samra village of Gurdaspur district in Punjab. After schooling in Gurdaspur, he did his Masters in Arts from Delhi School of Economics and joined the prestigious Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1962 in the Maharashtra cadre.
A richly decorated officer, Samra had served on deputation to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police force and as joint director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He became Mumbai police commissioner in 1993 and was elevated to DGP in 1996.
Retiring as DGP in 1997, Samra lived with his son in Punjab since 2007.