Home Guards’ Movement in Delhi

Home guards of Delhi are agitating these days to save their jobs.

Home-GuardHome Guards are disturbed by a notification, recently issued by the Directorate General of Home Guards, Delhi. This notification has been issued for the recruitment of 10,285 home guards in Delhi. The last date for submitting online applications was 13 February and the new recruitments were to be done by 31 March 2024. The existing Home Guards, who are 8,624 in number, fear that after this recruitment drive, their existing jobs will be lost. That is why they have been forced to take to the streets and protest for the last one year to save their jobs.

The Home Guards Department was first established in the Bombay Presidency in December, 1946 under the Bombay Home Guards Act. It was established with the stated purpose of assisting the police in case of any civil unrest or communal violence. Its operation was given in the hands of the Union Home Ministry. In 1947, it was also extended to the Union Territory of Delhi. This Act was amended in 1959 and State Governments were empowered to establish their own Auxiliary force of Home Guards. After the war against China in 1962, Home Guards was reorganized.

Home-GuardThe job of Home Guards has been given a volunteer status. In the capital Delhi, they have to work to maintain law and order under the Delhi Police. Generally they are given training in fire fighting, rescue operations, handling of weapons, etc. They are used for traffic management, crowd control, security of government offices and buildings, etc. If needed, in case of emergency, they can be called on duty for any work and at any time. If they refuse to do the assigned work, disciplinary action can be taken against them and they can even be fired from the job.

Directorate of Home Guards comes under the  Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Director General (DG) of Home Guards is its top official.

The monthly income of a home guard in Delhi, including dearness allowance, transport allowance, etc., is around Rs 25,000 per month. The income of home guards in other states is less than this. Nationwide, the average income of home guards is less than Rs 10,000 per month. They are employed for three years. Generally, after this period their tenure is extended for another two years. In most of the states till now their tenure has been extended till retirement.

The Director General of Home Guards, while addressing them at the last monthly parade in Delhi on 10th February, had advised them to find other means of livelihood. (See box: What did the Home Guard Director General say on February 10, 2024?)

After this the apprehension of the home guards has increased further.

Home-GuardDG’s statement makes the present Home Guards feel that they should give up hope of continuing in their jobs. Further, on December 29, 2023, three amendments were made in the Delhi Home Guards Rules, 1959. First, for the job of Home Guard, now it will be necessary to pass 12th class, whereas earlier it was sufficient to be 10th pass. Secondly, now the upper age limit of the applicants has been reduced from 50 years to 45 years. The existing Home Guards have been in the service for 10 to 20 years and most of them are either of the age 45 or above or have only passed 10th class. And hence, the fear of the existing Home Guards is justified – that due to these two amendments to the rules, the existing Home Guards will not be eligible to apply for the current recruitment drive as per the Enrollment Information Advertisement.

According to the third amendment in the rules, from now on the word “enrolled” will be used for Home Guards and the word “appointed” will not be used to describe their job. The intention of the government becomes clear from this third amendment that the government does not want anyone to think that they have a right to continue in their job as home guard. The government’s intention is to use the strength and energy of the youth aged between 20 to 45 years as police assistants for a few years and then throw them away like flies fallen in milk. At that age they will have few employment opportunities left.

The currently working home guards are protesting to save their jobs. They have complained to top officials of Delhi government, LG, Chief Minister and even the Prime Minister. Delhi Home Guard Department has requested the Delhi Chief Secretary to extend the tenure of the currently working Home Guards by 6 months. But no concrete steps have been taken to save their employment. L.G.’s office asks them to go to the Chief Minister, while the Chief Minister’s office tells them that Home Guards come under the L.G. The Home Guards of Delhi have also filed a petition in the High Court. The next date of hearing in this case is 27 March, 2024. Home guards are being made to shuttle from pillar to post.

The new recruitment of 2024 has been put on hold for the time being. It has been said that the main reason for this is the lack of proper resources for recruitment and training by Delhi Police. Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police said that their personnel are engaged in farmers’ movement and bus marshals’ movements and moreover, they do not have a ground to provide training to the home guards.

In these uncertain circumstances, Home Guards have no choice but to agitate to save their future.

What did the Home Guard Director General say on 10 February, 2024?

In his address to the home guards on 10 February, DG said, “You should not be dependent on anyone for your livelihood and running your house. Don’t think that now we have become too old and what can you do now? No, you can do a lot of things. With determination you can do many things. You have to reflect on what your interests are and accordingly acquire skills. In whatever time you are getting, you can open a shop if you have capital. If not, then you can learn the work of a plumber, you can learn the work of an electrician, you can learn the work of a carpenter, you can learn the work of a painter. There are lots of things like this. You can learn to cook, set up your own stall, set up your own shop. Can do a lot of things. Whether you get a job or not, you have to make efforts for it, but if you have skills, then it will be easier to get a job.

 

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