Equipped to replace revenue police, says DGP; experts say it’s uphill task
The Uttarakhand Police is ready to replace the revenue police with regular police in the hill districts of the state, says director general of police (DGP) Anil K Raturi.
“The new police stations have to be first notified by the government. Once it is done, the police department will start manning these posts,” he said.
In January, the Uttarakhand high court had ordered the state government to replace the revenue police with regular police within six months. The court had said that the old revenue policing system, a legacy of the British-era, has become obsolete to deal with crime in the present day scenario.
Under the revenue police system, patwaris are empowered to arrest and investigate cases falling under their revenue jurisdiction. This makes Uttarakhand the only state in the country to have this system.
The system was introduced by the British to oversee day-to-day law and order situation in the remote areas. Since the crime rate was low, need for regular police was not felt, and revenue officials were given the additional task.
Even today, nearly 60% of the geographical area in the state is under the revenue police.
When asked how the department plans to meet the manpower and infrastructure required to replace revenue police from 61% area within six months, the DGP said, “Most of the population is already under the regular police. Revenue policing is present in the hills and the population density there is less. One police station in the hills has a large area in its jurisdiction but the population in it is small as compared to the plains.”
He added that the department will require “huge funds to implement the court’s order in one go” within six months.
Meanwhile, experts say that even though replacing revenue police with regular police has become indispensible today, it will be very difficult for the government to do it in six months.
“There are serious challenges in the interior areas due to the absence of regular police. The understanding of a patwari in a bordering district about intelligence gathering can be very limited. Intelligence collection is an important factor of policing in these regions, especially if we have a porous border like the one with Nepal,” said Aloke B Lal, former DGP, Uttarakhand.
About completing the task within six months, he said, “To implement the court’s order in six months will be very difficult. Besides recruitment, there are challenges of arranging equipment, getting clearances, constructing buildings etc. The new recruits cannot be sent directly to these areas. They have to be trained. The department can’t rope in existing trained staff because then other areas will suffer. Besides, at a time when the government does not have funds even for paying salaries, creating so many police stations will be a big challenge.”
Former administrative member of board of revenue, SS Pangety echoes the same. “The situation in the hills is so grave that revenue policing is obsolete. Banks have been operationalised in the hills but there is no security arrangement in absence of regular police. The crime rate is also increasing,” he said.
He added that getting permissions for creating new posts, recruitment, land procurement, equipment etc will take time because there are many stages and many departments involved in this. “Doing it in six months will be very difficult,” he said.