Vintage wireless

First police wireless set in Delhi was borrowed by AIR for live transmission of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation

In 1948, All India Radio borrowed a wireless set from the Delhi Police for live transmission of Mahatma Gandhi's funeral. AIR used the bulky, metallic device, the first wireless set used by the Delhi Police, to give a live commentary on the grief expressed by world leaders who had come down to the Capital for the funeral.

The 70-year-old box, imported from England, is all but forgotten today. It is one of the artefacts at the Delhi Police Museum in Police Lines, Kingsway Camp. It looks like a bulky generator and was procured by the British from General Electric in 1944. It was the police's first wireless communication device.

The set was installed at the Kotwali police station the first control room of the Delhi Police. The device was monitored by two smaller, mobile sets that were placed on police jeeps.

Before wireless communication, the police used morse code machines to transmit messages. The wireless set was a prized possession of the police for roughly a decade. Then, it was replaced by backpack wireless devices with long antennae. During the Partition, the police used this device to coordinate their efforts to control riots.

A small pamphlet highlighting the days when this machine was used (1944 to 1959) is also placed beside it. Over the years, the bulky device has been replaced with a much simpler and smaller set about the size of a mobile phone. "Compared to the device used by the force now, the first wireless device was a giant. Our officials searched for this and kept it at the museum for everyone to see," Rajan Bhagat, Public Relations Officer of Delhi Police, says.

Some interesting photographs indicate that during the early years of Independence, one could go right inside the Parliament premises. A black-and-white photograph of a traffic constable standing on a podium outside Parliament House is displayed on the wall. In the photograph, people are seen standing near the wall of the Parliament. The busy traffic policeman, in a uniform much different from that of today's traffic constables, is seen there. Today, almost all the roads leading to Parliament House are blocked.

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