MUST READ: The Cop Who Stopped the Maharaja

T.S. SATYAN writes: According to a recent report in The Telegraph, Calcutta, “a traffic policeman fined an Andhra Pradesh High Court judge for not wearing a seat belt in an act that won him appreciation from his boss but had the Judiciary smelling a rat.”

This story reminded me of my friend C.W. Kuttappa, the legendary traffic police officer of old Mysore in the 1950s who used to race around town looking for traffic offenders.

The very mention of his name would put terror into the hearts of drivers of overloaded vehicles, and ‘double-riding’ cyclists or pedalling without a lamp at night. They were all mercilessly hauled up and fined.

Old Mysoreans still remember how Kuttappa stopped Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar‘s car as His Highness’ driver had not switched on the lights despite the dark evening.

When the Maharaja curiously peeped out of the window to have a look at the policeman, Kuttappa stood to attention, saluted the Raja saying: “Excuse me, Mahaswami. It’s already getting dark and your driver has not switched on the lights. As a humble servant of your government, I am only following the traffic rules.”

The Maharaja expressed his regret before chastising the driver. And applauded Kuttappa for his sense of duty.

My friend, the science writer G.T. Narayana Rao, told me the story of his encounter with Kuttappa during the Dasara holidays in 1956.

As the in-charge Commander of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in the then State of Coorg (Kodagu), GTN had come from Mercara to Mysore to receive the cadets returning by train after their annual training camp at Bangalore.

All the cadets and the officer leading them boarded the waiting bus at the railway station.

The driver counted the number of passengers and exclaimed, “The official permit is for 49 passengers, but there is one extra person here. Kuttappa’s squad may catch us any moment.”

The officer said that he would meet the situation should it ever arise.

As expected, a few kilometres off the City, Kuttappa’s squad stopped the bus. A policeman started counting the number of heads, verified the licence and issued the official chargesheet to the driver.

“Yours is a case of transgression of rules,” said Kuttappa in a firm tone. The driver turned back at the officer.

The NCC officer, a three-starred Captain in uniform, got down from the bus to meet Kuttappa who gave him a smart salute. The Captain argued that the bus was carrying defence personnel and so the driver could not be punished for any traffic offence.

“Sorry, sir. The case is between the driver and the State Government. No exemption to anyone,” said Kuttappa.

The situation had become tight.

Says Narayana Rao: “As the Senior Officer, but in civilian attire, I got out of the bus, moved up to this embodiment of discipline and introduced myself as the extra passenger responsible for the offence. I told him, ‘Here is my identity card. Please book the case against me. I will face the Court and undergo the prescribed punishment. Kindly withdraw the case against the innocent driver’.”

Kuttappa threw a stern and piercing glance at Narayana Rao, took back the chargesheet from the driver and muttered: “Kuttappa too is human, sir. Go.”

7 Responses to “MUST READ: The Cop Who Stopped the Maharaja”

  1. Quizman Says:


    This reminds me of the fine anecdote in Peter Colaso’s book on Bangalore. Apparently, in the 1950s (0r was it 1960s?) when there were hardly any motor driven vehicle in the road in Bangalore, a policeman stopped a cyclist going on South Parade road without a headlight. The cyclist said, “Sir, when there is so much light on South Parade road, why do I need a headlight?”. The policeman bent down without a word, removed the cap covering the valve of the tyre and let the air out. He looked at the cyclist and said: “Sahebre, when there is so much air in South Parade, why does your tyre read any?”

  2. synopsis Says:

    I was quite impressed to read this, not only because its difficult to find such dedicated officers, but because, ironically yesterday i bumped into this blog doing the rounds.

    Samyuktha Raman

  3. Pratap Says:

    Really … My eyes were moist at the end of reading this… We of this ‘natadrishTa’ generation can only hear such stories …

  4. Kuttappa Paleyanda Says:

    Never heard of this Kuttappa from my folks. Nice to know about it.

  5. somaiah Says:

    Kuttappa the great.i never heard of him.affter all he is a kodava .

  6. Capt.A.K.Char(Retd) Says:

    I am surprised that many kodava’s do not know CW Kuttappa. He is Chatandagudi wothiah Kuttappa,started his Traffic police service at market square-the intersection between Sayyaji rao road and shivarampet in Mysore,there was no statue square then.
    His only daughter is Prof.of English at Maharani’s college-may be retired now.His soninlaw Pandanda Somiah is professor at Gangothri(Mysore University.

  7. NT Says:

    We are proud of thatha Chotangada Wuthaiah Kuttappa. He was a great soul. His younger daughter is retired prof of sociology, Maharaja’s college, Mysore. Older daughter lives in Mysore.

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