The Uttarakhand government on Wednesday decided to bring all areas controlled by the state’s revenue police under the jurisdiction of the regular police, weeks after the murder of a 19-year-old receptionist at a resort near the town of Rishikesh, PTI reported.

Uttarakhand is the only state which still has the colonial-era system under which revenue officials carry out initial investigation into crimes in certain areas.

On Wednesday, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary SS Sandhu said that the decision was taken at a state Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. The decision will be implemented in a phased manner, he said.

The chief secretary said that in the first phase, six new police stations and 20 new police outposts will be created, particularly in areas that have more economic and tourism-related activities. New police stations will be opened in the Yamkeshwar area in Pauri district, Chham in Tehri, Ghat in Chamoli, Khanasyu in Nainital, Deghat and Dhauli Jheena in Almora.

The Lakhamandal area in Dehradun district, Beeronkhal in Pauri, Gaja, Kandikhal and Chamiyala in Tehri, Nauti, Narayanbagad and Urgam in Chamoli and Chopta and Durgadgar in Rudraprayag are among the places where new police outposts will be created, according to PTI.

On the morning of September 24, the body of Ankita Bhandari, a receptionist at a local resort, was recovered from the Chilla Canal in Rishikesh. She had gone missing six days earlier.

The police said that Pulkit Arya, the owner of the Vanatara Resort, confessed that he had killed Bhandari along with two others. Arya is the son of former Uttarakhand minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinod Arya.

Revenue police in Uttarakhand

In Uttarakhand, officials such as patwaris and kanungos carry out the initial inquiry into crimes in areas that still have the revenue police system, according to The Hindu.

The regular task of the revenue officials is to maintain land and revenue records. However, in cases of crimes, they file a first information report, arrest the accused persons and even file chargesheets. Cases of heinous crimes are transferred to the regular police, but the process can take seven to ten days.

The revenue police are entrusted with these responsibilities in more than half the area in 11 of the 13 districts in the state.

In the case of Ankita Bhandari’s killing, her parents had accused that the local patwari did not investigate the matter properly, allowing the accused persons to destroy evidence and flee. Following the allegations, the Uttarakhand government had suspended the official and launched an inquiry against him.