Women Home Guards Slog Despite Not Being Paid for 3 Months
By Ashwini M Sripad | Published: 01st August 2014 09:01 AM |
BANGALORE: Lakshmi (name changed), a 34-year-old Home Guard attached to a police station in South Bangalore, left home on Thursday at 5 am to report for duty at 6 am.
She had prepared sambar the night before and hurriedly cooked rice before leaving in the morning. Her three children were fast asleep when she set out. Her bandh duty ended at 6 pm.
Lakshmi is one of thousands of Home Guards deployed for bandh duty. On days like this, they work for 12 hours or more.
For all their hard work, they are not always treated well. For instance, they have not received their salaries for the past three months. Lakshmi’s monthly salary is just Rs 9,000.
“On a normal day, we work between 10 am and 5 pm, but on days like today, we have to work much longer. Due to the bandh, my children did not go to school today,” she told Express. The children are too young to make cook for themselves. All day Lakshmi sat on a chair on a footpath, telling people things were peaceful across the city.
Radha (name changed) started working six years ago for a salary of Rs 5,250 at a police station in Bangalore West. She now gets Rs 9,000.
A common problem she and her female colleagues in the Home Guards face is that they find no toilets while on duty. “We have to go wherever we are deployed. If we do not find public toilets nearby, we ask people in the neighbourhood permission to use their toilets,” she said.
Most people turn them away, but Radha says that is not surprising. “After all, why should they allow a stranger to enter their house?” she said. The other problem is superiors turning up when women Home Guards are trying to find a place to relieve themselves.
“If we step away from our post in search of toilets, and seniors find us missing, they mark us absent and deduct `300 from our salary,” Radha said.
The Home Guards are not as well cared for as the policemen.
“We get no provident fund or Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) benefits. They don’t give us any rain coats, but expect us to work in traffic. They tell us to use umbrellas,” Radha said.
Jayashree (name changed), a Home Guard in East Bangalore, said when she joined the force nine years ago, she used to get Rs 4,500, but the amount has doubled now.
“We get a uniform and a pair of shoes and socks once in two years. We cannot wear these all 30 days, so we buy an additional set from our money,” she said.
The Home Guards work with the Excise, RTO, Traffic, Law and Order and other departments.
Om Prakash, DGP (Home Guards), told Express more than 21,000 work across the state, with 1,500 assigned to assist the Bangalore city police and 500 for the Bangalore traffic police.
“The police asked us for an additional 1,000 people during Ramzan. I am not sure how many were deployed for bandh duty,” he said.
Departments that requisition Home Guards have to pay them an allowance. “It is their duty to pay `300 a day. Home Guards are not regular employees and so are not entitled for PF and ESI,” he said. On delayed salaries, he said the money had come, but the process had run into a “technical problem”. It has been sorted out, he added.
Who Are They?
Indian Home Guards are members of a paramilitary force. They are a voluntary force who assist the police. The Home Guards Organisation was reorganised in 1962 after the India-China war. Home Guards are recruited from a cross section of the society. All citizens of India between 18-50 are eligible to be Home Guards.