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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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CIMA Gallary

Home guards up in arms

Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Jan. 1: Police today faced a daunting task in managing vehicles at various squares because of a ceasework agitation by home guards in the state.

Many police vehicles could not move in the twin cities as home guards constitute bulk of the force.

Around 17,500 home guards across the state resorted to the agitation, demanding their security and stopping of illegal retrenchment. Demanding reinstatement of around 1,200 home guards, who have been arbitrarily discharged from duties without any inquiry, the protesters staged demonstrations in district headquarters, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.

“We have six demands and we want the authorities to fulfil those, or else, we will continue our protest for indefinite period. Earlier, we had put our demands before the higher authorities, but to no avail. In December, we had given a memorandum to additional director-general of police, home guard, Binay Behera. It also yielded no results,” said Sanjay Kumar Behera, state president of the NIkhil Utkal Gruharakshi Mahasangha.

Nearly 965 home guards are deployed in Cuttack and about 1,500 are working in Bhubaneswar. They staged a demonstration near AG Square.

The mahasangha has been demanding for amendment in the Home Guard Services Act, 1961-62, and regularisation of jobs and a hike in daily duty call allowance from Rs 200 to Rs 500 for discharging duties in other districts of the state. “We are discharging duties at various bungalows belonging to IPS and judges, apart from being deployed during VIP visits. We also assist traffic police, and in many places, we have to independently manage traffic. Unarmed we face life threats,” said Cuttack city Home Guards Association president Sanjay Majhi.

Majhi said the home guards are yet to get their recognition, despite rendering vital services even in remote Maoist-affected districts.

The mahasangha demanded setting up of a welfare fund as the state government is collecting Rs 20 per day from the home guards. “A rally will be organised in Bhubaneswar on Thursday,” said association secretary Hemant Parida.

An official said that though the home guards had been on strike, the department did not face any problem as back up forces were being utilised.