Home Guard, Mukesh Jadhav, was one of the first victims of the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008 on Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal, as he guarded the station. He was shot in the chest by a terrorist, but in spite of being mortally wounded, he walked to the police station between the platforms to inform the police. He sacrificed his life, protecting his city.
Santosh Gupta, a fellow Home Guard, mans the railway stations of Mumbai at night, protecting the citizens of Mumbai too. But his dedicated efforts have been ignored by the State. Gupta is yet awaiting his salary of six months amounting to Rs. 72,000. While he mans the railway stations between 7 pm and 5 am, to make ends meet, Gupta works takes up odd jobs during the day such as selling juice, ice golas and snacks. “We get paid Rs. 400 on a daily basis, but this claim is simply on paper. In reality, we get paid after 4-5 months. Instead, we have to pay for everything – from our uniforms to shoes,” he tells Amol Lalzare, our Community Correspondent and also Gupta’s neighbour in Sathe Nagar, a slum in Mumbai.
Like Gupta, there are many Home Guards across Maharashtra, who are being denied their salaries. These men and women form a part of a voluntary task force, which serves as an auxiliary to the Indian Police. But the force is made to do all types of duties, which include crime, law and order, security for VVIPs, and traffic. “The laws don’t let a Home Guard raise any request or demand for themselves. In an ‘Azad Bharat’, Home Guards are still treated as bonded labourers,” says Santosh Thorat, a former Home Guard who left the services due to such discrimination from the forces.
These brave individuals are as much a part of our forces, as the other forces. These women and men have stood in solidarity with the Police, Army and other security forces when times were tough – from floods to terrorist attacks. Gupta needs your support for claiming his rightful salary. Make a call to Director General of Police on +91-22-22842423 and demand that the Home Guards be paid their salaries. You can also tweet your request to the Maharashtra Police on @MumbaiPolice.
Community correspondent Amol Lalzare reports from Maharashtra for Video Volunteers.
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