Sir Charles Tegart, notorious Colonial Irish Police officer who caused nightmares to Bengali freedom fighters

Charles Tegart. The notorious British police officer   NoiseBreak

Sir Charles Augustus Tegart.

 Above image: Portrait of Tegart which once  hung in the office of the Director of the intelligence branch of the Bengal police................

Sir Charles Augustus Tegart KCIE KPM (1881 – 6 April 1946) was a British colonial police officer in India and Mandatory Palestine (a geopolitical entity as part of partition of the Ottoman Empire in the region of Palestine under the terms of British mandate for Palestine)  and had a name for instilling fear among the Indian natives. He was more known for his notoriety for his brutality and use of torture in dealing with victims than for his integrity in his official work.   He was known to be ruthless and "uncompromising with detainees". His expertise in torture  and brute forces was at full display in the later part of 1930s  when he was with  the British Mandate of Palestine. - "Tegart forts", reinforced concrete police stations and posts  were quite well-known . His forte was  brutal questioning accompanied by beating prisoners on the soles of their feet, causing severe pain. Simply speaking, he was a ruthless a Devil in  Police Uniform.

 Born in Derry, county Londonderry Sir Charles Tegart KCIE and KIPM in 1881, the son of a Church of Ireland clergyman, Rev. Joseph Poulter Tegart of Dunboyne, County Meath, was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen and briefly at Trinity College, Dublin.  Joined the Calcutta Police in 1901,  Tegart became the  head of its Detective Department and had  served almost continuously in Calcutta for a period of thirty years until he was appointed a member of the Secretary of State's Indian Council in December 1931. In 1924, the Caledonian Society of Calcutta honored one of the most loyal servants of the British Raj, Charles Augustus Tegart,  who was acclaimed as the most famous policeman of British India but a hated villain to Bengali revolutionary nationalists for his intelligence work against their cause.  Tegart joined  the newly-established intelligence branch of the Bengal police that tracked  lots of revolutionaries  and led to large-scale detentions and deportations of suspected terrorists under the 1915  Defence  Act of India Act. In 1917 Tegart served as one of the principal advisors to the Rowlatt Committee, which was investigating ‘revolutionary crime’ in India. He took the credit of being the first officer of the Indian Police (IP) and  on his recommendation, the Special Branch was created to deal with hard core criminals- revolutionaries, etc.

Sir Charles Tegart bettind an ward, Calcutta. Age Fotostock

 Above image:  Sir Charles Tegart presenting special medals to police officers in Calcutta during the 'civil disobedience' rioting encouraged by Gandhi's .........
He became the Superintendent of Police in 1908, and received  the King's Police Medal in 1911. Through devotion to duty and ruthless dealing with  criminal, his promotion was quick and he came  Commissioner of Calcutta Police from 1923 to 1931.  It was natural he earned the ire of the Bengali patriots and anti-British activists  who fought for Indian  independence.  His actions were quite menacing and formed a huge road block for the revolutionaries. He gave a tough time to patriots led by Jatindranath Mukherjee at Balasore in Orissa on 9 September 1915.

That Tegart  is said to have survived six assassination attempts in India is a tell-tale story of his notoriety and repressive brutality in dealing with natives and their demand for freedom. Undeterred by several attempts on his life, not withstanding danger to his life, he had the audacity and guts  to drive around in an open-top car with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier riding on the bonnet as if the critter was his main body guard.  He was awarded the KCIE in 1937 and Lord Lytton, then Governor of Bengal was in full-praise of him for his serious efforts to curb  freedom activities

 Among attempts on his life, the following are quite note-worthy:  An abortive attempt on Tegart on  12 January 1924, at Chowringhee Road in Calcutta, by Gopinath Saha, a Bengali revolutionist, who accidentally  shot down a white man, Mr. Ernest Day,  mistaking him for Tegart.  In yet another incident on  25 August 1930, at Dalhousie Square in Calcutta,  a bomb  was lobbed into the car in which Tegart was traveling, but Tegart shot down the revolutionary and escaped unhurt.

Besides, earlier  Tegart had got a name as one of the leading intelligence officers in the British Empire. After the  WWI  he was stationed in France and England where, according to The Englishman, a newspaper of Calcutta, Tegart is said to have made valuable contribution to the counter-espionage work against the Bolsheviks’. Naturally, he was chosen  as an intelligence officer in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish War from July to November 1920. He was  one  among several Indian police officers  brought in to beef-up  British intelligence networks. In course of time, he became an expert on both 'Irish and Bengali ‘terrorism’ that became a major preoccupation of the British Empire.  An interesting story about him was he could go around Calcutta using various disguises  to pass off as a native Bengali in spite of his strong European features. To gather intelligence on freedom fighters he once entered a Red Light area in the guise of a Bengali gentleman, talking with pimps and prostitutes with support from native officers.

His expertise in terror tactics drew the attention of the British authorities who  sent him to the British Mandate of Palestine, then in the midst of Arab Revolt. He was there  to advise the Inspector General on matters of security.  Upon his arrival  in December 1937, he recommended the  construction of 77 reinforced concrete police stations and posts  to safeguard any  ferocious attack and control  the movement of insurgents, goods and weapons along the northern border of Palestine   On his recommendations  were built   new "Tegart forts", as they came to be referred to  throughout Palestine;  many were built  after the Arab Revolt, in 1940-41. A few surviving ones are  being used by Israeli and Palestinian    forces.  In 1942 Tegart headed  operations at the Ministry of Food in wartime Britain to combat the black market which affected the economy of England during that crucial period. Tegart died in April 1946 at his home of age-related disease.