As a student of archaeology and as a heritage enthusiast my interest in Gujarat has been mostly on monuments of Medieval Period and sites of Indus Valley Civilisation. But a recent interaction with a young IPS officer and subsequent visit to a heritage police station restored through his vision changed my notion. I had never thought that I would get a chance to peep into police history, an institution that often put people in uncomfortable situation to discuss about.
Dholka is a small town with a rich history. It is situated at a distance of 50 km from Ahmedabad. The town has preserved large water bodies of medieval era and splendid Indo-Islamic monuments. But what has been added to its heritage cap is the recent renovation of a more than century old police station. As a plaque suggests it was built in 1912 and witnessed events after events during the entire freedom struggle. However, it had become dilapidated. Government of Gujarat wanted to demolish it and erect a new structure. But Mr. Nirlipt Rai, the SP of Ahmedabad District, sensed its heritage value. He prevented its demolition and instead preserved it for the posterity.
Dates on roof tiles that are displayed in the museum indicate the police station’s history dating back 1865. Though it is just a two month story, it has become a much talked about initiative in the local circle. Slowly it is becoming a centre of learning among local school kids and visitors alike.
We met Mr Rai in his Ahmedabad office and discussed in length about the potential of doing research on crime history. It was really heartening to see the vision of a police officer on heritage and promoting local history. On his advice I visited Dholka Police Station on last weekend.
When I entered the premises I felt like a time traveller entering into a British era complex roofed by ochre red tiles. Once it used to be a one stop solution for all legal and administrative help as it housed the magistrate office, mamalatdar office and the sub-jail.
Dholka was under the East India Company administration as early as 1802 AD. It was an important trading post. Truly a noble initiative like this has made me realize that India is a land of opportunities for all heritage professionals. There is immense scope in this country to research on lesser known subjects and make them interesting and relevant to public life.