Why it is challenging to end British-era revenue policing in Uttarakhand’s hilly areas

Hindustan Times, Dehradun | By
Dec 15, 2020 04:28 PM IST

The issue of bringing all the areas of the state under regular police has come up again after state home secretary Nitesh Jha said a three-member committee has been formed to look into this matter

Uttarakhand is the only the state in the country where nearly 60 % of the area is still under revenue police, a system introduced by the British in 1861, in which revenue officials act as cops with the right to arrest an accused and investigate cases.

Police say revenue police is not needed in the state in view of growing crime in hilly areas.(Representational Image)
Police say revenue police is not needed in the state in view of growing crime in hilly areas.(Representational Image)

The system was brought in when crime in the hilly areas was low. However, the state continued with the system even after it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. But now, many feel that revenue police has become obsolete.

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The issue of bringing all the areas under regular police has come up again after state home secretary Nitesh Jha said a three-member committee has been formed to look into this matter.

Jha spoke about it while announcing a series of reforms for modernisation of the state police department in the next few years. The committee comprises senior retired IAS officers Madhukar Gupta and Indu Pandey, and recently retired director general of police Anil Raturi.

Though Jha said that a decision on the issue would be taken soon, keeping in mind the committee suggestions, police officers and experts claim it won’t be easy to end the system.

A senior police officer at the state police headquarters in Dehradun, while advocating the need to end the revenue police system, said, “The Britishers had introduced the system because there used to be hardly any crime in the hilly areas. The situation remained the same till about a decade ago. But now, there have been serious crimes there also...revenue police fails to crack them and then, those cases go to regular police,” said the officer who didn’t wish to be named.

“If cases have eventually to be given to regular police only, why not end the revenue police completely? The regular police is all prepared to take over the areas presently under revenue police,” he said.

Another senior police officer claimed it is more of an IAS vs IPS issue. “The state police has told the government that it is prepared to take over the areas under revenue police. But there is an IAS vs IPS factor also. The IAS lobby thinks that with the revenue police system, the control of more than half the state is with them and not the police. But there should be a uniform policing system in the state,” he said.

Aloke B Lal, retired director general of police Uttarakhand, however, said that, “More than the IAS vs IPS factor, it’s the lack of political will to end the revenue police system.”

“In my opinion, there should be one police system in the whole state. But there is a lack of political will. It’s because many think the revenue police is somewhat easy to bend but not the regular one,” said Lal.

He added, “The issue has even gone before the Uttarakhand high court which also stated that it is unfortunate that a large part of the state is deprived of a regular policing system due to the revenue police. The whole state has to come under the modern police.”

On the three-member committee, he said, “One of its members, retired DGP Raturi, has studied the issue in detail and would surely make the other two members agree to end the revenue police system.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Kalyan Das covers crime, transport, human rights and central government offices from Bhopal and Indore.

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