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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 4, p. 384.


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CHAPTER XII
POLICE AND JAILS
I. Police
The indi- THE most interesting feature of the modern Indian Police
genous
polioc system is that, along with a regular police formed on the model
system. of the Royal Irish Constabulary, it comprises as an essential
part of its organization the ancient institution of the village
watch. It is now generally admitted that the village com-
munity in its most complete form is of non-Aryan origin; and
it is in the parts of India which have least felt Aryan influence,
that is, in the country lying to the south of the Vindhya
mountains, that this form of self-government has retained
the greatest vitality. In many tracts within this area the old
complement of village officials still exists, and, though all
are not now embodied in the British system of administration,
every village has retained a headman and a watchman. These
officers have been from ancient times, and are still, though to
a somewhat less degree, the backbone of the police machinery
of India. The headman occupied the position of a police
magistrate and the watchman worked under his orders. The
latter's functions are thus graphically described by Mountstuart
Elphinstone in his report (I8I9) on the territories conquered
from the Peshw :-' His [the watchman's] duties are to keep
watch at night, to find out all arrivals and departures, observe
all strangers, and report all suspicious persons to the pdtel
[headman]. He is likewise bound to know the character of
every man in the village; and in the event of a theft committed
within the village bounds, it is his business to detect the thief.
He is enabled to do this by his early habits of inquisitiveness
and observation, as well as by the nature of his allowance,
which being partly a small share of the grain and similar
property belonging to each house, he is kept always on the
watch to ascertain his fees, and always in motion to collect
them. When a theft or robbery happens, the watchman com-
mences his inquiries and researches. It is very common for



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