Bhubaneswar, Jan. 6: Within twenty-four hours of home department authorities agreeing to fulfil the demands of home guards, those working with Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police here today staged protest in front of the office of the assistant commissioner of police for not assigning them duty.
Around 200 home guards complained that though they usually were distributed duties by Reserve officials, today they were told to report to police stations. They sat on strike to oppose this decision.
“The authorities have been harassing us as we were on a strike for the past five days demanding reinstatement of illegally retrenched home guards. They told us to report to inspectors, as we have to work in their areas. The inspectors will harass us,” said Tanmay Swain, a home guard.
Besides, they also alleged that they were sent to far off places to discharge duties. “They do not provide us with any allowance for travel and force us to discharge duties at far-off places, which is unfair. They are targeting us for our involvement in the protest,” said Deepak Bisoyi, another home guard.
Home guards across the state have been on cease work since January 1. They later sat on a hunger strike at MG Marg near the Assembly demanding on-duty security, such as being allowed to carry weapons, and closing down the review board that at times fires them. Following a discussion between the home guards and home department authorities, they called off their strike yesterday evening as the authorities agreed to fulfil their demands.
“We have given the authorities two months to fulfil our demands or else we will resume our agitation,” said Sanjay Kumar Behera, president of the All-Odisha Home Guards’ Association.
Police officials said that as these home guards had been discharging their duties in various police station areas, local inspectors could easily keep tabs on them. There had been allegations against some home guards for not obeying the orders of senior officials and indulging in wrongful activities, and so they were told to report to inspectors.
“Those who had no problem with the duty distribution have joined duty, but the trouble makers are sitting on strike. As they are working in the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police area, they should work wherever they are deployed,” said a senior police officer.
“We are trying to convince them to report to duty by holding talks with them,” said Banambar Sethi, reserve officer in charge of duty distribution of home guards in the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police.