General who put people first
A pall of gloom descended on the city as the news of Lt Gen (retd) JFR Jacob’s death reached here on Wednesday morning. One of the last of the Indian Army veterans to have seen action in World War II and who played a stellar role in the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh, Jacob was the 29th Governor of Punjab and also served as the Administrator of Chandigarh from November 27, 1999 to May 8, 2003.
Jacob made immense contribution to the development of the City Beautiful. Having keen interest in art and archives, the former UT Administrator had played a vital role in giving the city museum and art gallery a facelift, besides opening almost two dozen schools for slum children.
The Chandigarh Football Academy was also the brainchild of Jacob, who established it in 2000, with an aim to provide world-class training to the children between the age of 9 and 11.
Having a farsighted vision, he conceptualised Rajiv Gandhi IT Park to provide jobs to the young people of the city.
“Governor saheb used to celebrate Diwali with blind children from the Institute for Blind and share the festivities on all other occasions with us,” recalled Rampal, who had been serving as a helper at the Punjab Raj Bhawan since 1995.
A catering superviser at Punjab Raj Bhawan, Rajinder Kanojia, remembers how Lt Gen Jacob used to free staffers early in the day on festivals so that they could celebrate with their families. He would tell them to cook his dinner early and leave it in the kitchen, from where he would take it on his own.
“Jacob’s remarkable legacy will always be remembered as the state’s most effective and beloved (ex) Governor and Administrator,” says a city resident, Suresh Kumar.
Lt Gen NS Brar (retd), who was Captain when Jacob was 16 Corps Commander at Nagrota, termed Jacob as a “very simple person having all the qualities of great military leader who never feared to speak the truth”.