Kotwali police station in a shambles

Though it qualifies for being preserved as a protected monument as per the norms that all buildings which are more than 100 year old should be preserved as heritage monument, yet no conservation work has been done on it.

While one acknowledges that the building is no architecture wonder like the others of its time still its age is enough to conserve it. If not worth seeing artistically, it may still be of some interest to persons interested in studying old art of building construction.

Sadly, like other historical buildings in the city not much is available about the kotwali police station building. An inscription, 1834, on its entrance is the only indication that it was built in this year.

According to pieces of information collected from senior citizens, the building definitely came into existence in 1834 but the kotwali police station came much later, even after 1860. Ludhiana Gazetteer, incidentally, also does not mention details about this police station. It, however, claims that the first institution which claims to be of ‘police’ in nature in this area was a Branch Thugee Office that came up in 1848. It is argued that if this was the first police office then the kotwali police station must have come up later.

A senior journalist revealed that the building was actually a stable built by the British to keep their horses. The British had a sizeable army stationed in the city as the Sikh rulers were in possession of area on the other side of the Sutlej river. To keep a large number of horses, the British had built several stables and the building was one of them.

However, after 1860 the city expanded. With the separating of a police force from the civil administration in the late 19th century, the need to have a police station was felt. The building suited the requirement and was converted into a police station in the 19th century itself.

A witness to history, the kotwali has also seen the city taking shape around it. Several freedom fighters of considerable prominence had been jailed here. It had also served as a right platform for the residents of the city for the redress of their grievances. Heresy has that during the days of the kotwal, the police station was a place of terror for criminals. People say that it was a neat, tidy and well maintained place.

These days the scenario is dismal. The building had already been declared unsafe in 1994 yet the kotwali police station and even the office of the DSP (City) is located here.

With lack of funds with the Police Department , not much repair work has been done on the building which has gradually led to the weakening of the structure. I t is on the verge of crumbling down at several places.

According to police sources, the government had been requested several times to conserve the place but nothing was done. Just few years ago the Improvement Trust and the local Municipal Corporation had floated a proposal to shift the police station to some other place but it could not materialise.

Sources said that the police personnel preferred working in the unsafe building instead of the new one near the old Tehsil Office which had only two rooms that were insufficient for housing the kotwali.

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