Mumbai Police want civic body to return first top cop’s bust

Plan to put Sir Frank Souter’s statue in their own museum

The police commissioner’s office has written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to return the bust of Frank H. Souter, Mumbai’s first Commissioner of Police (CP). The bust is at Bhau Daji Lad Museum and the police want to make it part of their museum. The proposal will be discussed before the next group leaders’ meeting.

The Mumbai Police are in the process of creating a first-of-its-kind police museum at the commissioner’s office near Crawford Market.

The State’s first police museum will be built on the lines of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Scotland Yard museums. The museum will take visitors back to two eras: the first, under Sir Frank dating back to 1864 and the second, the period after independence. The Mumbai Police have signed a memorandum of understanding with Tata Trusts for the museum.

Sir Frank’s tenure lasted till 1888, the longest for the post. Currently, commissioners are transferred every three years. Sir Souter was also chairman of the municipal corporation from 1882 to 1883 and of the town council from 1882 to 1885.

A white marble bust of the officer, which was at the CP office’s entrance decades ago, has been languishing at Bhau Daji Lad Museum for some years. How it landed there is not known but many statues of British-era officers were moved there after the 1960s, when protesters from the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement had demanded their removal. The Mumbai Police have now written to the BMC to return Sir Frank’s bust to its rightful place.

“We have received a letter from them and are considering the proposal. We have written to the Mayor about it, and will table it before the group leaders’ meeting, which will take a decision on it,” Sudhir Naik, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (general administration), said. The proposal, if passed by the group leaders, will also require the general assembly’s approval. Once that is done, a no-objection certificate will be issued.

Joint Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti confirmed the letter to the BMC, but refused to comment.

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