By Sanjay Pinto


Toned and tanned, at 6 feet 2 inches with broad shoulders and bulky biceps, clean shaven and sporting sunglasses, he automatically fits into that ‘tall, dark and handsome’ mould. So, you can’t blame onlookers for wondering if he is a movie star. As ASP Tiruchendur when he was on duty for the local body elections, a woman mustered the courage to ask him: “Sir, are you cinema police?” The ‘Bheem-Boy in Khakhi’ smiled and continued with his instructions on the walkie talkie.

(Pic: Harsh Singh, IPS, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) North Chennai)

From being lean and bullied in his school years, Harsh Singh today relishes the respect that a well built physique commands. Years of pumping iron in the gym and a steely resolve to have heads turn, have given him a robust image that is so essential for a cop. Influenced by a staple of action movies like ‘Sarfarosh’ and ‘Gangajaal’ and the six packs of Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan during his student years in Lucknow, Harsh’s journey is as much about brain as it is about brawn.

Having missed the IAS by a whisker, Harsh’s father Hari Shankar Singh, who ultimately made it to the State Civil Services and retired as the Chief Development Officer in Uttar Pradesh was initially keen on seeing his son in the bureaucracy. Along with his wife Sudha Singh, a homemaker, the duo used their savings to rustle up a huge collection of books ranging from Religion to History to Politics and set up their home library and this served to whet the literary appetite of their son. “I became a voracious reader from a young age and my parents would flaunt my general knowledge before visitors, with justifiable pride.”

Academically quite a bright spark, Harsh earned a BTech degree from JSS College, Noida and topped it with an MBA from IIT Roorkee. Armed with these twin degrees, he sailed through campus placements and ended up in Oracle in Bengaluru and later at Deloitte in Hyderabad where he was a Consultant engaged in auditing Enterprise Risk Assurance of US systems. The cushy corporate lifestyle made his dad do a rethink on the son’s career front and he didn’t quite fancy Harsh’s unstinted efforts to clear the Civil Services Exam. Persistence paid and in his final attempt, Harsh notched up the 244th Rank and got into the Indian Police Service in 2018.

The maiden posting as ASP (Training) in Tirunelveli in 2020 came with an additional piece of uniform – the face mask as the covid lockdown had just been ordered. “My endeavour was to create awareness and I kept criss-crossing the 30 police stations in my jurisdiction with my striking force. I had not fully mastered Tamil by then and so I had one of my constables who was from Mumbai write Tamil sentences like “thalli thalli nilunga” (physical distancing) which I memorised and shouted on the public address system.”

The next stint as ASP in Thiruchendur – a melting pot of fishing communities, witnessed agitations over a power plant that he handled with tact by “allaying apprehensions” of the local people. In his 18 month tenure here, what stands out was Harsh’s role in rescuing a young Dalit Merchant Navy cadet who had been trapped in Iran and was being ill-treated and even denied proper food by a shipping company. “Initially the manpower agency in Chennai which used to head hunt in fishing hamlets in Tamil Nadu gave me a different picture. Later, a fellow cadet from Pakistan got in touch with me and revealed the truth that this lad from Tamil Nadu was indeed being mistreated. After issuing a stern warning to the recruiter in Chennai, we managed to have him sent back safely to his family in Tuticorin. This intervention gave me immense satisfaction.”

The State elections in the volatile region called for “diplomatically handling both sides, which I think I managed well.”

A brief 3 month period in Kottaikuppam in Villupuram, along the Puducherry border, involved putting down “rowdyism” and “liquor smuggling.”

Photography: Gurunath Prabhu

It was baptism by fire in July, 2022, when 36 year old Harsh was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) in Chennai North. “The opportunity to be a part of the Prime Minister’s bandobust and other VVIP convoys for the Chess Olympiad was a big learning curve.” Does our muscle man prefer Law & Order postings? “Traffic calls for a multi-dimensional approach. It’s a more visible role. And I guess personality plays a part here as well.” A complete ‘boots on the ground’ sort of officer, the social media was replete with pictures and videos of him wading through water during the recent monsoon and also overseeing traffic diversions necessitated by the ongoing Metro Rail construction.

‘Dive right into special drives’. That has been his goal in traffic. Harsh was in the thick of enforcement against drunken, rash and negligent driving when he was recently distressed to come across “a just wedded man meeting with a fatal accident in Anna Nagar”. The initiative to replace defective number plates was quite a hit with the traffic police managing to have about 6000 plates changed by motorists the same day. More than 2500 motorists who drove on the wrong side were booked on a single Monday.

The Prince Charming met his match in a doctor from Bengaluru – Dr.Vidhya Gowda who now works for a private hospital in Chennai. Composing poems has been a hobby. “I’ve written over 50 poems. One of them titled ‘Why Should I Let My Dreams Die?’ was published in the Hindustan Times.” No prizes for guessing any romantic lines he may have coined to woo his bride!

A news buff, Harsh grew up watching and admiring many anchors on NDTV like Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt. “I think I was in Std. 6 when we got our cable connection. I used to wait for ‘The Big Fight’. Today, it’s ‘Cut the Clutter’ by Shekhar Gupta.”

Evidently, this macho cop has not let any of his dreams fade away, much less die. For he, to borrow the title of another favourite programme, has always tried to ‘Walk The Talk’.

(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, Columnist, Author of 4 books & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)  



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here