The chronicle of Police system during the ancient regime of Tripura kings, prior to the advent of Muslim rule in Bengal, is still obscure. The glimpses of information available in coins, inscriptions and temple are scanty and limited. The Rajmala and other historical literatures also could not give the clear account of police system in the princely state of Tripura. However, there existed a concept of indigenous police agency in each hill tribes, based on their respective self governing institutions according to their primitive social customs and procedure that migrated to this land in successive waves from various uplands. Thus, the tribes had the freedom of their self administration and their relation with the then monarchy was mostly confined to collection of taxes and periodical nazaranas. The system of the then administration was feudal in nature and there was no chain of official hierarchical command. The king was all in all. There was no separate agency in the name of Police for maintaining law & order. The early kings depended on the military for internal administration, suppression of any rebellion by the chieftains and war as well as conquest.
Raja Ratna Manikya was considered to be the first king of Tripura who brought a considerable reform in the administration as well as in the indigenous police system in the line of Muslim administrative system of Bengal during his regime. The Nawab of Bengal said to have conferred the title of ‘Manikya’ on him. He brought three experienced Bengalis with him to Tripura who helped in establishing administrative system in Muslim pattern. Some hierarchical posts were created to run the administration. The plain Tripura, then known as Tipperah, and adjacent areas were under the direct administration of the King and the distant regions were ruled through regional administrators, known as ‘Laskars’. They mainly exerted their authority as Police officers in collection of taxes from tribal chiefs.
There were ‘Binidias’, special type of Police, under the direct control of the king. They acted as conduits to inform the tribal chiefs about the orders/formans of the King and also were empowered to arrest any person for defiance of king’s order etc. Raja Amar Manikya introduced the title of ‘Thanadars’ in the last part of 16th century who exercised authority as provincial rulers. There was no written code, court of law and jail before 1870.
Modernization of administrative system in ‘Independent Hill Tipperah’ began following several administrative reforms introduced by Raja Birchandra Manikya in the line of British administration during his regime from 1862 to 1896. ‘Until the year 1873-74, the courts of Tripura dispensed justice according to primitive system of equity and good conscience and there was no judicial procedure’. The Tripura King adopted the Acts of the Government of Bengal and Acts of British India. Nine enactments were passed in 1873-74 including Criminal Procedure Code, Police Code, Cattle Trespass Act and Civil Procedure Code etc.
According to the first Annual Administrative Report of the Political Agency of Hill Tipperah 1872, the Raja’s police consisted of about 200 men. There were 04 Daragahs, 37 Jamadars/other officers and 173 burkandazes in the Civil Police. The numbers of Thanas and Outposts were 08 and 10 respectively. The administrative report for the year 1884-85 reveals that the Magistrate of Agartala was In-Charge of the entire police of the State. Under him, there were 03 Inspectors, 01 at each of the 03 headquarters stations of Agartala, Sonamura and Kailashahar. In accordance to the rules in force in British territory, each Thana was placed under the charge of a Sub-Inspector and each Outpost under a Jamadar or Head Constable. There were all together 18 Thanas and 04 Outposts in the state.
The subsequent Annual Reports revealed that the number of Thanas and Outposts and also the total strength of Police force were subject to variation according to the prevailing law and order situation and other issues. In general, each Thana was having the average strength of 01 officer and 05 men. In addition to the main duties of preserving peace, the police officers/men were the Collectors of Forest revenue, Cotton revenue, Chowkidari tax and in some places of Land revenue also. There was also a contingent of ‘Binindias’ or ‘Tipperah Burkandazes’ whose main duty was to serve processes on the hill people. No regular system of village police was in existence in the kingdom. Chowkidars as a rule were employed only in the headquarters stations. Crime and other occurrences of interior areas were reported by the village head men. However, in 1886-87 04 new posts of Head Police officers with the designation of “Superintendent” were created for the control and supervision of Police and cotton departments and also for revenue work for 04 divisions who were subordinate to the Sub-Divisional officers.
Maharaja Radhakishore Manikya-(1896-1909) brought about separation of Police and Revenue Departments. Before 1905 Police and Tehsil works of the state were performed by the Police officers. In 1907, the Raja thoroughly reorganized the Police Department relieving Police from revenue collection. Mr. Ananda Mohan Guha was the first Superintendent of Police appointed by the Raja after such separation. Shri Maharaj Kumar Brajendra Kishore was made the head of the police administration.
During the regime of Maharaja Birendra Kishore Manikya Bahadur (1909-1923), reconstituted the State Civil Service on 31-03-1916 for recruitment of high officials of the state including the post of Police Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent of Police. The new Arms Act and the Penal Code Amendment Act were passed in 1911. Mr. Kamini Kumar Sinha was the Superintendent of Police then. The total number of officers and men was 350 against 342 in the previous year. The number of Inspector was reduced to 05 from 07 and 10 constables were added during the year. The proportion of the police force to population was 01 to 656 against 01 to 671 and that to area 01 to 11.67 sq. miles against 01 to 11.94 sq. miles in the previous year. The total Police expenditure amounted to Rs.46,977/- as against Rs. 47,228/- in the previous year. A small staff under a senior Inspector was engaged for detective purposes. The Superintendent of Police had to go for extensive tour and inspect Thanas. The number of cases reported in the state was always small. In the interior hilly areas it was almost nil. Offences were generally committed along the border areas.
Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur was the last King who reigned from 1927 to 1947. This period was the most turbulent period in the history of Tripura and India also. Political activities got new momentum. During communal riots in Bengal, large number of refugees entered the state causing demographic change and ethnic tension in some places. The Reang-revolt led by Ratan Moni Reang was suppressed taking stern Police action. The India Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908 (Act XIV of 1908) as amended up-to-date was adopted in 1942.
The Acts of British India were adopted to suit the conditions of the state. After the death of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur on 17th May 1947, Maharani Kanchan Prava Devi took over the reign of the state on behalf of her minor son Maharaja Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya. After merger with Indian Dominion on 15th Nov. 1949, the State of Tripura became a centrally administered part C State under a Chief Commissioner. The Tripura Administration Order 1949, issued on the same date kept in force all earlier laws prevailing in Tripura. Tripura was a one District Territory with one District Magistrate & Collector and also one Superintendent of Police upto 31-08-1970. The territory was divided into 03 districts with appointment of 03 DM & Collectors from 01-09-1970. Accordingly, 03 Superintendents of Police were appointed and posted to the districts. Another post of Superintendent of Police, CID was created with Headquarters at Agartala. Tripura Armed Police was reorganized under a Commandant. After attainment of Statehood on 21st January 1972, the status of the Chief Secretary of Tripura was upgraded to the status of Joint Secretary of the Govt. of India. A common cadre of IAS, IPS & IFS cadres was created under the title of Joint Manipur-Tripura Cadre. The strength of IAS cadre was increased to 21, IPS to 08 and IFS to 04. The gradual expansion in Police setup has culminated into the present full-fledged shape which is now in the threshold of paradigm change towards the concept of community policing.