| The office of home guards in Motihari. Picture by Ajit Kumar Verma |
Home guard jawans assisting police in maintaining law and order in the district are unhappy with facilities provided to them for over four decades.
A unit of the Bihar Home Guards was constituted in East Champaran district in the mid-60s. The district administration allotted around 7.5 acre at Awadhesh Nagar in Motihari for a parade ground and a building for the personnel in 1985. But the personnel alleged that the government had done nothing to improve the standard of their life and functioning.
In absence of a building, the homeguards at present work from Lumbini Nagar Bhavan near the Collectorate.
District commandant of home guards Anil Kumar said: “Of the 45 officers and personnel sanctioned in this office at the district-level, only nine are posted. Most of the district commandants are in additional charge of three to four districts. There are only 16 district commandants in the state at present. Posts in 22 districts are vacant.”
On the requirements of the force in East Champaran, the district commandant told The Telegraph: “In the event of election, examination or festival, the available police force in the district finds it difficult to function without the help of home guards. But even one-fourth of the facilities availed by the police is a distant dream for members of our force.”
There are around 3,000 home guard jawans in the district. Of them, the police deploy 350 home guards in rotation at different sites in the district. The deployment strength was increased by a 100 in 2005-06 for better policing in the district. Now, the district magistrate and superintendent of police have again requested the state home secretary to increase the strength.
Apart from being posted at police stations in the district, the home guards are deputed at the offices and residences of the district magistrate, district judge, superintendent of police, chief judicial magistrate, additional district magistrate, deputy superintendents of police and sub- divisional magistrates and judicial and administrative courts to maintain law and order in Motihari.
Establishments like the post office, nationalised banks, telephone exchange, central jail, district hospital and even important embankments in this district are also manned by the home guards, said Kumar.
“Our men are efficient in disaster management. There are five divers and 10 boatmen with the home guards in the district. Their services were put to use during the boat disaster in West Champaran last year,” added Kumar.
Apart from East Champaran, Kumar is also in-charge of Bettiah and Bagaha districts. He said infrastructure for home guards was no better in other districts of the state and stressed the need for the basic requirements for the force, especially a parade ground in order to keep the personnel fit, to ensure they can effectively assist the police in maintaining law and order.