An Unassuming Staircase & The Father Of Modern-Day Mumbai Police, Here’s What Binds Them Together

by Tooba Shaikh
An Unassuming Staircase & The Father Of Modern-Day Mumbai Police, Here’s What Binds Them Together

The image of the staircase above seems quite ubiquitous. But its story, not so much. It is connected to an unsung hero of yore whose contribution to the Mumbai Police has largely gone unnoticed by the general public. Long before there was a Chulbul Pandey or a Bajirao Singham, there was a cop who created the modern-day Mumbai Police. This is the story of bravery, duty, and excellence. This is the story of Sir Patrick Kelly who put his life on the line for a constable.

Sir Patrick Kelly, The Father Of Modern-Day Mumbai Police

This story has been shared by the historian and author, Dhaval Kulkarni. It was also published as an article in Hindustan Times in 2022. The story of Sir Patrick Kelly requires familiarity with the geopolitical landscape of 1929 Mumbai. Back then, it was still Bombay and still under British rule and the struggle for freedom was in full swing.

But this story has nothing to do with India’s freedom struggle from the British. On February 9, 1929, a riot broke out between the Pathans and Marathi textile mill workers. The reason for this riot was that the Pathans were largely moneylenders. They lent money to the textile workers on extremely high rates of interest. This created tension between the two communities.

What further fanned the flames of conflict was a rumour that the Pathans were also into child-lifting, as per Kulkarni. Borrowing money from the Pathans was also very common among the constables of that time. Hence, when one fateful day a group of Pathans attacked the commissioner’s office and started brutally assaulting a constable, the others were reticent to act. 

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A Story Of Honour, Bravery And Duty

mumbai police
Image Credits: @dhavalkulkarni/X (Formerly, Twitter)

Once a person entered the Pathan’s “blacklist,” then there was no hope of getting any money from them if they ever needed it. Fearing that they’d enter this blacklist, the constables were hesitant in helping their fellow constable who had defaulted on a loan taken from Pathans. Sir Patrick Kelly, whose office was on the first floor of the building heard the commotion and came down from the staircase in the picture.

When he saw what was going on, he ran to the rescue of the constable, shielding him from the blows of Pathans with his own body. This inspired the others to act as well and they jumped in to fight off the assailants. They were ultimately successful in driving them away.

As per Kulkarni, in addition to this heroic feat, Kelly is also responsible for the riot control plan of 1924 and night patrolling (1926) as well as the beat system. During his tenure, he must have gone up and down from them countless times, and that’s what binds the two together!

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Were you aware of this remarkable police personnel? Let us know in the comments section below!

Cover Image Credits: @dhavalkulkarni/X (Formerly, Twitter)

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