Not feeling at home: The lamentable plight of a volunteer force

Not feeling at home: The lamentable plight of a volunteer force

Submitted by alvin on Mon, 2016-06-06 09:13 Bengaluru: Thirty-five-year-old Ramesh is a worried man these days. A home guard with a wife and a three-year-old kid, Ramesh hasn’t received his salary for the past three months.“I stay in a rented house in Chalvadi Palya. My landlord has asked us to vacate the house soon. I don’t know what to do,” says Ramesh.Ramesh is not alone, as fellow home guards have reportedly also not been paid for the past three months, leaving them in a state of constant worry.Unlike other government jobs, where people get recruited after clearing an entrance exam, home guards are a voluntary force, which assists the police in various government departments and also in maintaining law and order. Perhaps, this explains the indifference of the government towards them.As per the rules, home guards should be paid Rs12000 every month. But as of now they are paid only Rs9000. And with no provision for PF or Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) benefits, the home guards are a dejected lot. “We should be paid Rs400 per day. But we are paid only Rs300. When we ask higher officials, they say the government should approve it,” says Ramesh.Like Ramesh, 25-year-old Seema (name changed) is also despondent. A resident of Kamakshipalya, she has two children to feed. Her husband works as a carpenter and earns around Rs2000 per month. “I leave my house at 8am and return by 9.30pm,” says Seema. “It is quite tough for me at the moment. I had to pay children’s school fees so I sold my gold earrings. Grocery stock has also finished. I am desperately waiting for my salary.”Another home guard Venkatesh (name changed), a resident of Anand Nagar, narrates about the shabby treatment meted out to them. “We are given a pair of uniform and a pair of shoes and socks once in two years. But since we cannot wear it for the entire year, we buy another pair. We are not given raincoats or umbrellas,” says Venkatesh.Venkatesh says the issue of non-payment of salaries was nothing new. “It has happened before. This is a common problem for us along with facilities not being provided during duty hours,” he says.Nagamma, (name changed), who has been a home guard for the past 15 years, is also angry. “Forget about paying salaries. We don’t have proper facilities such as like toilets and drinking water,” she says.At present, the head office near Ulsoor hosts more than 1000 home guards: 550 for traffic department, 500 law and order, 300 for metro lines, 50 for fire and emergency, and 500 home guards for Vidhan Soudha, RTO, excise office, BBMP lakes and big parks.Speaking to Bfirst.in, DGP Om Prakash says he is aware of the non-payment of salaries. “I have sent a letter to the concerned department to release the money. The home guards will be paid soon,” says Om Prakash.