The unhappy husband of Kiran Bedi
TO BE OR NOT - HUSBAND OF A CELEBRITY
The first woman to enter the IPS which was otherwise a male domain; winner of the prestigious Magasaysay Award for humanely administering Tihar, the largest jail of Asia, Kiran Bedi has slipped miserably on the domestic front. Having a devoted husband and a lovely daughter this terrific police officer hasn’t been able to maintain an equilibrium between marital and parental families. Well known for inviting controversies Kiran Bedi was in news when she left Mizoram overnight. She also declined posting in Jammu & Kashmir. What however haven't been printed' are the controversies in her personal lile which too have surrounded her. DR. UMA ARARA speaks to Brij Bedi, her estranged husband, who lives in Amritsar, to unveil lesser known Kiran.
(Please also see: Brij Bedi Passes Away on 31-1-16)
This lonely man loves to photograph I beautiful women. That's not all. His lens catches the mess in and around the city and with the product he continuously pesters the civic authorities who according to him are deaf, dumb and blind. His passion for Amritsar, the cig in which he has been living since past several decades, comes out strongly the moment one mentions word 'filth'. This philanthropist handsome middle-aged man with a grey crown and Clark Gable moustache the unassuming and low profile husband of a celebrity. Yes we are talking to Brij Bedi, - one wheel of the straddled marriage; the other being first Woman IPS officer Mrs.Kiran Bedi.
Q. How did you meet Kiranji?
A. She was a very good tennis player, in fact her father was very keen to make her an outstanding tennis player and she went on to become the Asian Champion. We met in the club, played tennis together and became good triends.
Q.So it was romance on the tennis court?
A. That happened later. At that time I was engaged with a girl from Delhi. Being an idealist l wanted just a simple marriage but the girl's parents refused. So we broke the engagement. Meanwhile I had begun to like Kiran for her intelligence and quick wit. She had told me that if this engagement did not work she would marry me as she wanted to have a husband with similar ideals.
Q. Was it a contractual marriage then?
A. Yes and no. We had ten years difference in our age but our thinking level was the same. lf I had my ideals she had her own conditions. Although she had taken up a job in Khalsa college it was decided that she would become- an l.A.S. officer failing which she would go to Canada for her Ph.D. She was so intelligent I did not think of stopping her or controlling her just because she was to be my wife. lf she had the ability and the will power to pursue the goals why' should I or anyone stop her. lnstead I agreed with her and encouraged her. We were madly in love at that time and such things seemed very superficial. l
Q. You became a visiting husband. How did it affect your lndian male ego?
A. Right from the beginning we knew that our marriage is going to be a unique in its own way. We were not going to be ordinary husband and wife where the woman wastes her talent and intelligence knitting and washing at home. l would never have married such a home bound person. Since it was already decided in our case that she would be posted outside l was mentally prepared to be a visiting husband Besides where there is love there is no ego. I used to cook and eyen polish her shoes. Sometimes when she would be tired I pressed her legs also. I never felt anything wrong in that.
Q. That must have been during the 'first few years of the marriage. When did the problems really start?
A. The problems were there side by side but like all newly weds we ignored them. After two months of marriage she got the call for training. lt was really great in those days. We used to write five letters everyday with numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, marked on them. Even the postman was bewildered. Every day she used to call me over the phone too. It was really romantic. One day when she rang up she was very up set as her name had not appeared in the first list of lAS. I had induced her to take on a challenge and accept the strenuous IPS training. Her parents resisted as there were 'no women r officers in the lndian police force then. Despite this I managed to convince her and she took up the challenge. After the training she was posted at Delhi and I used to visit her on the weekends. Her parents had already shifted to Delhi with her and then her sisters also joined and completed the family coterie around her. ln a two room house it used to become really overcrowded and I felt highly suffocated, Gradually I began to feel very uncomfortable there as her parents would interfere in our personal relationship and we began to drift apart.
A. lt was a planned child and we were both blissful. Till that time Kiran was totally involved with me and my family. Brij with his daughter Her parents could not cope with that and tried their best by fair or foul means to win her devotion in which they succeeded, I also felt that being a daughter she does have her obligation towards them and never tried to obstruct her relationship with them. But she could not balance her affection for both families and in her heart her parents became everything so much so that the requirements of her husband and daughter became secondary and gradually we became obsolete for her- She is not a successful wife although a very successful and devoted daughter.
Q. Sukriti, Your daughter stays with her mother then how often do you meet her?
A. I go to visit her now. That is the biggest tragedy of our marriage. She neither got love of her mother nor affection of a father. Kiran was naturally very busy and could spare only a few hurried moments from her busy schedule. I used to go on weekends which was fine but since past eight years I have stopped going to Delhi and the girl is really deprived of parental care. She does come over to Amritsar as and when she can. Her maternal grandparents are there but she resists them like anything. She is the real sufferer; Now she herself is an adult and understands the situation but has not been able to fully cope up. She does not feel comfortable in that house but has to stay there since she is trying for her MBBS degree. There are things in life over which no one has any control. The destiny plays an important role. People are not surprised at Kiran Bedi becoming an IPS officer but her having been married is considered strange. Q.Maybe because of this sourness there have been rumours about a divorce?
A. They (Kiran's parents) wanted a divorce. Even Kiran mentioned it once but I refused saying our achievement is mine". She was my dream. There was a time when she had called me 'her god' in one such interviews. But then things became really bad between us, For our daughter's sake I never thought of a divorce. My 'parents too used to insist sometimes but I did not want to get married again. Q. What about her achievements? Did you ever envy that?A. Never. Her achievements were mine. She did her duty well and was appreciate that more than doing things about prisoners, the criminals the need is to do something about the society outside. About the poor, the rotting, the illiterates. lts time she should quit and involve in the larger canvas. Being a very simple person bereft of inhibitions she can, easily do it.d for that, Personally I feel
Q.What about your parents? Usually the problems start because of that.
A. (laughs). ln our case it was the other way round. Her own parents had such a hold over her that she could not breakaway from them. Kiran was very close to my mother and accepted many times that she got so many things because of her blessings. When she came for my mother's funeral on her returning to Delhi she got the news about the Magasaysay award. My mother was a very broadminded person, She accepted our relationship ,but the deterioration in it became unbearable for her. She worried what would happen to me after her death.
A. I have come to believe in destiny. lt had to happen in my life. I was very bitter about the failure of our marriage till a year and half ago but today I have managed to control my emotions and have channelised them properly. I try my best to help people and have made it a mission to pester authorities about their negligence although I still miss having a proper family life especially at times when I am unwell. I no more cry about it. This is all destiny. No one can change anything.
Kiran Bedi, (born June 9, 1949, Amritsar, India), the first woman to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) and a social activist who was instrumental in introducing prison reform in India.
Bedi was the second of four daughters. Her education included an undergraduate degree in English (1968), a master’s degree in political science (1970), a law degree (1988), and a Ph.D. in social science (1993) with a focus on drug abuse and domestic violence. She joined the IPS in 1972 and went on to serve a variety of roles, including narcotics officer, antiterrorist specialist, and administrator.
Bedi earned recognition for the work she did as inspector general of prisons, beginning in 1994. In that capacity she reshaped one of the largest prisons in the world—the Tihar prison complex, in Delhi—by addressing the corruption and human rights abuses she found there. She targeted sanitation and nutrition problems at Tihar and also implemented new literacy and drug treatment programs there.
In 2003 Bedi became the first woman and the first Indian to be appointed United Nations civilian police adviser. She also founded two voluntary nongovernmental organizations, Navjyoti (1988) and India Vision Foundation (1994), both of which were established to operate primary education and adult literacy programs and to offer vocational training and counselling services for women, as well as to provide drug rehabilitation for prisoners. She was the recipient of numerous awards in India and abroad. She was also an accomplished tennis player and won several Asian championships.
In 2016 Bedi was appointed lieutenant governor of Puducherry union territory.