Khan Bahadur Kavasji Jamshedji Petigara CIE, OBE, ISO, KPM, JP, IP was the first Indian to become the Deputy Commissioner of Police in 1928.
He was in charge of the Crime Branch division of Mumbai Police and was noted for his intelligence network.
A decorated officer, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Companion of the Indian Empire (CIE) and awarded the King’s Police Medal.
Petigara was also awarded the Imperial Service Order.
He was given The Title of Khan Saheb in 1912. In 1916 he was bestowed with the Title of Khan Bahadur for his highest acts of bravery.
Petigara was born on 24 November 1877 to Jamshedji Nusserwanji Petigara and Dhunbhaiji Bastavalla.
He joined the police force as a sub-inspector at the CID (Criminal Investigations Department), and gradually rose through the ranks. In 1928, he was promoted to the Indian Police Service rank, one that very few Indians achieved in those days.
It is interesting to note that Petigara had no formal police training, and joined the force in
1903 as a plainclothes policeman, also known as a “safedwala”. It was his crime-ghting
ability, intelligence, meritorious service and loyalty, that saw him promoted to Inspector of
Police, in 1909, after just six years of service.
On February 1st 1928 he was the first Indian ever to be promoted to the rank of deputy commissioner of police, by the British, & was placed in charge of the crime branch of the Bombay police, which post he held for 10 years.
Among his accomplishments was his role in foiling an attempt by Indian freedom activist Manabendra Nath Roy in toppling the government.
The first time Petigara arrested the Mahatma Gandhi was during the peak of the ‘Quit India’
Movement. He was among a group of officers who arrested Gandhiji from Mani Bhawan.
Despite being a staunch loyalist of the British Indian government, he was respected by Indian freedom fighters.
When Mahatma Gandhi applied for a passport in 1931 to attend the second Round Table Conference in London, Petigara was cited as one of his references.
Another interesting story is that of Dr Gilder, who was a famous Mumbai-based surgeon, and a Gandhian. One day, Dr Gilder was treating Petigara, when the news came that Gandhiji was courting arrest in the city.
Though his loyalty and duty as a Gandhian required him to join the Mahatma’s protest, Dr Gilder sent word to Gandhiji saying he could not join him, as he was treating the CID Chief.
Gandhiji readily agreed, and the surgeon stayed back to treat Petigara.
The connection between Gandhiji and Petigara ran deep even in a tragic time. Petigara’s son was the assisting solicitor to the special public prosecutor, in the Gandhi murder trial.
He retired from the police force in 1936.
After his retirement, Petigara was appointed as the estate manager of Prince Aly Khan, at Aga Khan building at Dalal Street in Mumbai.
On 1940-06-08 a statue of him was erected for the “valuable services rendered to the city”.
The statue is located near Metro Adlabs in South Mumbai.
He died on 28 March 1941.
Kaisar-i-Hind Medal – 1st class – 1923 New Year Honours
Imperial Service Order – 1926 King’s Birthday Honours – Superintendent
OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – Officer) – 1931 New Year Honours – Deputy Commissioner
CIE (Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire – Companion) – 1933 King’s Birthday Honours – Deputy Commissioner (Special Branch)
King’s Police Medal – 1936 New Year Honours – Deputy Commissioner (Special Branch)