‘COVID-19: People Indoors, liquor Outdoors’

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Liquor amounting to crores of rupees was illegally taken from the earlier sealed godowns by the Excise & Police department of the state

Deepak Kaushik

In the recent days when people are trying to find ways to beat the COVID19 pandemic, news of illicit trade, supply and distribution of liquor in Haryana became the national news.

When people were barred even from buying essential commodities from the market, Wine & liquor shops & the distilleries were allegedly kept open during the lockdown in the month of March & April.

Liquor amounting to crores of rupees was illegally taken from the earlier sealed godowns by the Excise & Police department of the state.

Haryana had the very first experience of prohibition when former CM Chaudhary Bansilal who was an administrator of repute banned it in 1996 but it was a challenge for the then government on the fiscal and the law & order side as prohibition measures were lifted after two years in 1998.

Role of local police has been under the scanner as three Station House Officers (SHO) of the Kharkhoda Police Station in Sonipat have been suspended, sent to police lines and one is on the run as a fugitive.

Main accused Bhupender Singh was arrested and the petty cases were filed against the truck drivers, not the contractors.

Earlier when a Special Investigative Team was constituted it was expected that an astute officer with impeccable integrity IAS Ashok Khemka would be at the helm of the SIT but another IAS Officer was made the SIT head who submitted its report to the CMO in due time. The decision surprised many of government own Ministers in power.

After the incident whole of the Kharkhoda PS personnel were transferred.

SHO has the ultimate authority & discretion in his jurisdiction and it is since the colonial period ‘Thanedaar’ enjoys such powers and status from the colonial period.

At many instances it is SHO who has the craft to manipulate the decisions of its superior rank officers including Superintendent of Police too.

AURA OF A ‘SHO’

There is a saying in Haryana when a young lad is appointed as IPS and he tells the elders in the rural belt that he is selected IPS he is told that “Thanedaar lagta toh kuch baat hoti, IPS ne kon bujhe”.

Innocent farming community has seen the power of a SHO not the IPS in the day today routine.

In the year 2016 when the Jat Reservation agitation burnt the Haryana, the Haryana government appointed a SIT under the former DGP of UP Prakash Singh who is instrumental in the transformation of the police training administration of the UP police and para military forces.

In his report he found the dominance of a single caste in the constabulary which takes the order from the SHO or the Superintendent of Police of the district.

Patwari, Girdawar, Naib-Tehsildar, Tehsildar and the District Revenue Officer at the district level are the hierarchy of the Revenue Department in Haryana.

It also exists from the Colonial period as in those times collection of the revenue from the farmer used to be the main task of the Deputy Collector which evolved as the Deputy Commissioner in the recent times as this system of collection from the farmer does not prevail nowadays. In the erstwhile Punjab province the system of ‘Mahalwari’ was followed where land of the whole village was considered as the community land.

Whole village as a group or ‘Mahal’ by which name it was known as needed to pay the revenue.

At the village level Lambardar or the Numberdar as we call now was the authority to corroborate the land holdings of a person.

But this revenue department is the sole department where a person has to bribe five to ten lacs to get a desired posting.

There are rates per square feet which a person has to pay as a bribe to the Patwari and the Naib-Tehsildar at the Tehsil level.

Recent suspension of seven employees is not even a drop in the ocean. There is a great need for transformation to be done in this department.

The Haryana government has suspended the registration of land sale and transfer for some time as the government is developing a software to reduce the role of man.

But in reality it is always a man behind the machine who could manipulate the things.

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