M3 Features

The mysterious world of code names

June 18, 2015

Police work often needs to be shrouded in secrecy; and Kolkata Police is no different in this respect. An essential part of maintaining secrecy is using code names, be they for people, for places, for buildings, or for anything else. Kolkata Police being almost a century-and-a-half old, some of the code names are as old too. Take, for example, ‘Charlie Mike’ and ‘Charlie Peter’ – these are the code names for chief minister and mayor, respectively, and were given by the police during the British era.

Code names, in fact, abound, some less known than others. The chief secretary is ‘1’ and the home secretary is ‘2’. Tollygunge Police Station is called ‘Uncle-1’ in the Kolkata Police code language. This was given by the British rulers. Much later, after a firing incident, it was decided that Tollygunge Police Station had too big an area to manage. Hence it was decided to break it down. Thus was born ‘Uncle-2’ or Lake Police Station, and still later, ‘Uncle-3’ or Charu Market Police Station. Only time will tell how many more uncles Kolkata Police will get!

The British rulers had many more code names for police stations. Park Street Police Station was code-named ‘King-1’, Shakespeare Sarani (formerly Theatre Road Police Station), ‘King-2’. Then there was ‘Mike’ for Cossipore, ‘Mike-2’ for Sinthi.

Now let’s come to people. When the British had laid down the rules governing Kolkata Police almost a hundred and fifty years back, they had put down a code name for the commissioner of police: ‘William George-1’. This code is still used when talking over radio. The deputy commissioners, naturally, are code-named ‘William George’, all of them. The assistant commissioners, though, go by different names – some are called ‘William Charlie’, some ‘William None’.

VVIPs, for whom high levels of security arrangements are required, have been assigned code names too.

Police stations are sometimes called ‘Roger’, sometimes ‘Sugar’. Perhaps to sugar-coat the harsh nature of the work the police do! Similarly, two certain police stations under Kolkata Police go by the code names of ‘Love-1’ and ‘Love-2’.

In different departments too, code language is used to describe different types of work.

Most of these names are pre-independence legacies, and most of them have been continued with, mostly for convenience of remembering. The prevalence of code names is for the simple fact that it is more convenient to remember short code names than to remember the real names, which change periodically with transfers and retirements.

This little-known list (there are many other names, which the police are not always willing to share) provides an interesting peek into the high level of secrecy that the police have to maintain in their work.

Written by Anushtup Haldar for Team M3.tv

Feature image: itimes.com

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