D G Vanzara: From a farmer's scholarly son to a jailed encounter cop

Dahyaji Gobarji VanzaraConvocation at Sabarmati jail. Vanzara and Ahmedabad blast accused Sajid Mansoori congratulate each other for degrees. express archive

"My mother is the better rider," Pruthvi says. "In the 1950s she used to travel to Rajasthan on horseback along with her father, who was a well-known businessman there."

The marriage with Gauridevi had been arranged in childhood. Her family came to his rescue after he had been thrown out of his hostel because he couldn't pay his fees. "My paternal grandfather had paid for his admission to MSU but my father couldn't pay the hostel fees. After two or three months, my father chose not to ask his father for money and shifted to a friend's room. After a few days when the dean found out, he threw him out of the hostel," Pruthvi says. "When my maternal grandfather came to know about it, he paid the hostel fees."

All three brothers appeared for the public service examination. Vanzara got through the direct DSP exam in 1978-79 and joined the police while his brothers got into the administrative services.

The tough cop

The career decided, the ambition showed early. The young DSP earned a reputation as a tough cop who cracked down on liquor dens, arms rackets and highway robbers. He was promoted to the IPS in 1987.

In time, he emerged a networker with contacts from small vendors to political leaders across Gujarat. He was posted as DSP and SP in a number of districts. The executive postings came in the Ahmedabad crime branch, the anti-terrorism squad and the border range, as DIG. Officers credit him with developing a strong intelligence gathering system when he briefly handled CID (intelligence).

"When Vanzara saheb was SP in Mehsana during the Chimanbhai Patel regime, there was a major farmers' agitation. He played a key role in protecting the farmers from his police colleagues, which made him popular as a people's cop while remaining an aggressive one," says old friend Harish Gujjar, a machine manufacturer in Himmatnagar. A batchmate adds, "He was on the field all the time, a fearless officer who believed in dealing with criminals with a stick or a punch."

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