|Charles Tegart. The notorious British police officer NoiseBreak|
|Sir Charles Augustus Tegart. historyireland.com|
Sir Charles Augustus Tegart KCIE KPM (1881 – 6 April 1946) was a British colonial police officer in India and Mandatory Palestine (a geopolitical entity as part of partition of the Ottoman Empire in the region of Palestine under the terms of British mandate for Palestine) and had a name for instilling fear among the Indian natives. He was more known for his notoriety for his brutality and use of torture in dealing with victims than for his integrity in his official work. He was known to be ruthless and "uncompromising with detainees". His expertise in torture and brute forces was at full display in the later part of 1930s when he was with the British Mandate of Palestine. - "Tegart forts", reinforced concrete police stations and posts were quite well-known . His forte was brutal questioning accompanied by beating prisoners on the soles of their feet, causing severe pain. Simply speaking, he was a ruthless a Devil in Police Uniform.
Born in Derry, county Londonderry Sir Charles Tegart KCIE and KIPM in 1881, the son of a Church of Ireland clergyman, Rev. Joseph Poulter Tegart of Dunboyne, County Meath, was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen and briefly at Trinity College, Dublin. Joined the Calcutta Police in 1901, Tegart became the head of its Detective Department and had served almost continuously in Calcutta for a period of thirty years until he was appointed a member of the Secretary of State's Indian Council in December 1931. In 1924, the Caledonian Society of Calcutta honored one of the most loyal servants of the British Raj, Charles Augustus Tegart, who was acclaimed as the most famous policeman of British India but a hated villain to Bengali revolutionary nationalists for his intelligence work against their cause. Tegart joined the newly-established intelligence branch of the Bengal police that tracked lots of revolutionaries and led to large-scale detentions and deportations of suspected terrorists under the 1915 Defence Act of India Act. In 1917 Tegart served as one of the principal advisors to the Rowlatt Committee, which was investigating ‘revolutionary crime’ in India. He took the credit of being the first officer of the Indian Police (IP) and on his recommendation, the Special Branch was created to deal with hard core criminals- revolutionaries, etc.
|Sir Charles Tegart bettind an ward, Calcutta. Age Fotostock|
He became the Superintendent of Police in 1908, and received the King's Police Medal in 1911. Through devotion to duty and ruthless dealing with criminal, his promotion was quick and he came Commissioner of Calcutta Police from 1923 to 1931. It was natural he earned the ire of the Bengali patriots and anti-British activists who fought for Indian independence. His actions were quite menacing and formed a huge road block for the revolutionaries. He gave a tough time to patriots led by Jatindranath Mukherjee at Balasore in Orissa on 9 September 1915.
That Tegart is said to have survived six assassination attempts in India is a tell-tale story of his notoriety and repressive brutality in dealing with natives and their demand for freedom. Undeterred by several attempts on his life, not withstanding danger to his life, he had the audacity and guts to drive around in an open-top car with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier riding on the bonnet as if the critter was his main body guard. He was awarded the KCIE in 1937 and Lord Lytton, then Governor of Bengal was in full-praise of him for his serious efforts to curb freedom activities
Among attempts on his life, the following are quite note-worthy: An abortive attempt on Tegart on 12 January 1924, at Chowringhee Road in Calcutta, by Gopinath Saha, a Bengali revolutionist, who accidentally shot down a white man, Mr. Ernest Day, mistaking him for Tegart. In yet another incident on 25 August 1930, at Dalhousie Square in Calcutta, a bomb was lobbed into the car in which Tegart was traveling, but Tegart shot down the revolutionary and escaped unhurt.
Besides, earlier Tegart had got a name as one of the leading intelligence officers in the British Empire. After the WWI he was stationed in France and England where, according to The Englishman, a newspaper of Calcutta, Tegart is said to have made valuable contribution to the counter-espionage work against the Bolsheviks’. Naturally, he was chosen as an intelligence officer in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish War from July to November 1920. He was one among several Indian police officers brought in to beef-up British intelligence networks. In course of time, he became an expert on both 'Irish and Bengali ‘terrorism’ that became a major preoccupation of the British Empire. An interesting story about him was he could go around Calcutta using various disguises to pass off as a native Bengali in spite of his strong European features. To gather intelligence on freedom fighters he once entered a Red Light area in the guise of a Bengali gentleman, talking with pimps and prostitutes with support from native officers.