The younger generation of our community, perhaps, may not know of Shri. S.M. Diaz, IPS who was the first Director of the Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy that trains officers who are inducted into the Indian Police Service.
Shri. S.M. Diaz was born in Manapad in the year of our Lord 1919 and had his collegiate education in Mathematics at the St. Josephs College, Tiruchirappalli.
After completing his Honours he became a lecturer in Mathematics in the very same College. It used to be said that he taught precise Mathematics in elaborate English. I have seen photographs of a young Diaz as a lecturer in the various group photographs that adorn the walls of St. Joseph’s College.
As a student he was a cadet and later an officer in the University Officers Training Corps, an old-world equivalent of the present-day National Cadet Corps. After a few years of teaching in St. Joseph’s he moved on to Dehra Dun and taught in the Military Academy from 1940 to 1949.
When India got its independence, and the British officers left Indian shores there was dearth of police officers. The Government of India made a special recruitment to the police force and S.M. Diaz was one of those who was recruited as an IPS officer. Being tall and well built, good in his subjects and with the background of a military school, entering the Indian Police Service was a cake walk for him. He was allotted to the Madras Province.
He worked as Asst. Superintendent of Police, Sivakasi and Superintendent of Police, Madurai and in the Special Branch CID. He served in Coimbatore, Madurai and Trichy ranges, and later in the CID in Chennai as Deputy Inspector General of Police. He later served as Inspector General of Prisons, Tamil Nadu and in 1974, left Tamil Nadu to head the National Police Academy at Mount Abu.
While in service in Tamil Nadu he was respected by common people as well as by politicians. He was a favorite of former Chief Minister Thiru K. Kamaraj and former Home Minister Thiru Kakkan. Wherever he worked he won the approbation of people and he was considered a people’s policeman. His Law & Order plans and schemes for major conglomeration of people are still considered classics by knowledgeable police officers.
One of the Deputy Superintendents of Police who had served under him classified him as a “Shrewd Diplomat among the DIGs”. I came to know S.M. Diaz when he used to come to St Joseph’s College to preside over debates organized by the Literary and Debating Society of the college. His observations at the end of the lively debates were humorous and touching.
S.M. Diaz was a very good pen man. In company with one Pancrace, a Deputy Superintendent of Police he wrote many articles in police magazines on police subjects. He left a lasting influence on then young police officers like K. Mohandas and S. Sripal who rose up later to become great police officers in the Tamilnadu police firmament.
He won the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service and the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service.
In 1974, he left Tamilnadu to the National Police Academy, Mt. Abu to continue his old passion namely teaching. It was surmised that politics had something to do with his exit from Tamilnadu. In this he reminds me of the biblical verse “he came unto his own and his own received him not and he cast off the dust from his feet” and went on his way.
Mount Abu, he found was inaccessible for scholars and good teachers to come and deliver lectures to the trainees and he also found that the trainee officers lacked facilities to improve themselves physically, mentally and intellectually. Already there were proposals to shift the Mount Abu Academy to a centrally-located place the local population and the then powerful Chief Minister of Rajasthan would not permit it. But S.M. Diaz influenced Thiru Brammananda Reddy who was then the Union Home Minister and had the academy shifted to Hyderabad and thereby sowed the seeds for the now impressive Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy.
But for S.M. Diaz the academy would have languished in Mount Abu itself. Thus he became the first Director of the Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy at Hyderabad. After four years as Director of the Academy he retired from service and returned to Chennai.
What he did after retirement excels what he did when he was in service. He started lecturing in the Psychology Department of the University of Madras and later carved out the Department of Criminology from the Psychology Department and thus became the Father and Founder of the Department of Criminology at the University of Madras. He wrote many papers in international journals and for universities in different parts of the world who competed with each other to invited him for lectures. He got his Ph.D. when he was 72 years old. His thesis was on “Public perception of the of Police image”. Can you believe that in his name there is a Hall in the Madras University called “Diaz Hall”?
He was an active member of the Rotary Club and founder of the Probus Club. He translated the Thirukural in English and wrote a commentary on it. This momentous work he did for ten years after his retirement and it received very favorable reviews from various scholars. He also wrote another book with his knowledge of the Thirukural called “The aphorisms of Valluvar”.
He was the founder of Boys Clubs in the Police Department which looks after uncared for poor boys. He was associated with the boys town at Manapparai and he started a boys town at Ennore and thus has served children left uncared for by society. In this he had a little of Don Bosco in him.
He died when he went to address Police officers in Hyderabad, at the very academy he once headed.
Should we not be proud of such a son of Manapad? When shall we have another of his ilk?
By A.X. Alexander, IPS (Retd.), Former Director-General of Police, Tamil Nadu