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UK Rising Star At The "Met" Reveals Secret Heartache At Top Private School


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
THE most senior Sikh officer in the Met yesterday revealed how his bullying hell at a top private school has inspired him to help other young victims.

Superintendent Raj Kohli, 45, told how being victimised at Hutcheson’s Grammar, one of the country’s leading fee-paying schools, has shaped his life.

The officer, who was the public face of the London force after the death of singer Amy Winehouse, said he felt isolated and alone after being repeatedly beaten up and having his turban knocked off.

He says his treatment after becoming one of the first Asians to attend the Glasgow school – where he was a pupil from the first to fifth year – even caused him to stop eating for a while.

Kohli, brother of showbiz stars Hardeep and Sanjeev, said: “It was 1978 when I moved to Hutchie and they were difficult times. I was physically badly bullied at school.

“I was the first bloke with a turban at Hutchie Grammar School and of course the said turban used to get knocked off my head on a daily basis and I was relieved of my £1 pocket money on a regular basis.

“I was so tall and skinny at school because actually I didn’t eat.”

He says that he never told teachers or his parents for fear of making things worse.

He added: “I never told my parents because, even at a young age, I knew the sacrifices they made.

“My mum would work 15 or 16 hours in the shop.

“My dad was working in a List D school as a teacher and then coming home to help mum in the shop.

“They really struggled to send three boys to fee-paying schools.

“I am not entirely sure my parents ever realised the extent of the bullying I was subject to. It went on all the time.

“You’d go to the toilets, where all the boys were smoking, and get beaten up and get your turban knocked off.”

He believes the bullying was racially motivated, saying: “Of course it was.

The school has declined to comment on his claims and Kohli admits teachers were unaware: “I didn’t tell the teachers so how can the school fix something when they don’t know what’s happening?

“I give presentations and I tell pupils, ‘You must tell someone’ but I didn’t myself.

Now a dad himself, he said: “With my kids, I rarely see them. They are 18 and 14 and out all the time.

“I never had any of that, a school social life as it were, because I was considered a bit strange and a bit weird.

“That’s why I am particularly sympathetic to issues around bullying in school and I give presentations about bullies and being bullied.”

As Kohli talks of his years in the force and particularly his tenure as the officer in charge of London’s Camden, his sensitivity to victims is an enduring theme.

He explained: “I do think it’s made me a better police officer and I can connect better with young people.

“I have a real feeling for bullying and how debilitating it can be.”
That was one reason he spoke to the media in the hours after Winehouse’s death as speculation she had died of a drugs overdose ran wild.

He recalled: “It was a bit like King Canute on the beach trying to stop the waves. I was never going to stop people speculating. They wanted to know the answers and just filled in the gaps until such time as the answers came out.
“I hadn’t been going to make any statement – this wasn’t about the police, after all. It was about the passing of a talented young woman but immediately there was speculation about her death, so I decided to say something.”

Kohli stood on the doorstep of the singer’s house to point out that the cause of her death was unclear and that fact should be respected.

He said at the time: “I am aware of reports suggesting that the death was a result of a suspected drugs overdose but I would like to re-emphasise that no post-mortem examination has yet taken place and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the cause of death.”

Post-mortem results suggest Amy had not taken drugs before her death but Kohli insists that, at the time, he was only trying to protect her family as best he could.

He said: “The call came in literally from the scene. They told me it was Amy Winehouse. We knew right away who it was, even though it was not confirmed for some time.

“But the body still had to be identified. Someone had to do it.

“I didn’t meet her parents. We have family liaison officers who do that and I did not want to step into their domain and blur the boundaries.

“What I tried to manage for them was the immediate worldwide interest and the need for people to pay their respects at the scene.

“The complication with someone like Amy was the sheer speed of the news going out.”

Now 45, Kohli believes he was destined to join the force from the time as a little boy his mum gave him a police outfit.

After school, he went to Paisley College of Technology – now the University of the West of Scotland – but it was at a Glasgow University careers fair that he was intrigued by the Met officer recruiting for the graduate fast-track scheme.

He was one of 30 recruits across Britain chosen for the positions.
Ask Raj for his significant memories and he will recall the first time he had to tell parents their 19-year-old had been killed in a car crash.

Other haunting events include going to a flat where a father and his two daughters had been killed in a gangland execution, or the two-year-old toddler who fell to his death out of a window with a faulty catch.

He said: “There was this tiny handprint on the window and then it just smeared downwards.”

Camden sees more than its fair share of the rich and famous – George Michael and Sean Bean are just two residents whose paths have crossed the thin blue line.

But it’s the ordinary people of the north London borough who remain his priority. It is his beat and they are his people.

Kohli said: “Cops can be quite parochial that way and look out for their own.”
Brothers made it to the top

THE three Kohli brothers have got to the top of very different careers.
While Raj is the Met’s highest-ranking Sikh officer, Sanjeev, 40, and Hardeep, 42, are two of the country’s most famous comics.

They went to St Aloysius College, a Roman Catholic school.
Sanjeev is best known for playing shopkeeper Navid in the BBC’s hugely successful Still Game.

Hardeep is a newspaper columnist, TV and radio presenter.

Parents Parduman and Kuldip came to Britain from India in 1966, moving to Glasgow in 1974. Mum was a social worker, dad a teacher.

Parduman is now head of a multi-million-pound Glasgow property empire.



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Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
I must admit that I know the Kohli family personally because they belong to Ferozepore, my hometown. Parduman, a very jolly fellow grew up with my late brother and then they lived in London together before the Kohlis moved to Glasgow. His younger brother Charanjeet and I grew up together and went to the same school although he was 3 years my senior. They are one wonderful bunch.

Glasgow had become one of the most racist cities in the 70's because of the explosion of the Muslim population, mainly from Pakistan, and due to the industrial base there, where hardworking Asians were taking over the jobs from the natives. Edinburgh was more mellow.

All of us with turbans were also used to be called Pakis in the UK, which was used as a slur.

In fact, Raj came and stayed with me in Los Angeles during his hitchhiking tour of the Americas in the late 80's. He did not wear a turban then. I am glad to see him back with the turban. A handsome Copper!
Spnadmin ji: Thanks for the article. Nice U turn in the memory lane.:redturban:
Tejwant Singh



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