Women Home Guards share grievances, hardships
Manipur Home Guard Employees' Welfare Assn urges Govt to fulfil its demands

Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 17 2018: The women Home Guard personnel, even without any arms, are playing an important role in serving and protecting the State.

With their meagre amount of salaries, the women Home Guard personnel are not able to maintain their family or fulfil their medical needs, daily fares etc.

One such Home Guard who is facing a similar problem is Serabhanu Begum (37) from Kshetrigao Bengul Makha Leikai, who started working in 2001 under Home Guard Battalion.

She is living with' her son, who is currently pursuing BA second year.

Speaking to The Sangai Express, Serabhanu stated that she lost her husband when her son was in class VIII standard.

She claimed that earlier she received a sum of Rs 1500 as monthly salary, which did not suffice even for her son's school fee, household maintenance, daily fares etc.

Citing her hardships, she claimed that she performed her duty from 5 in the morning till 9.30 pm when she was posted in Bishnupur district while she had to reach by 9 pm when she was posted at commando complex and adding that she had to even walk till her destination by foot, when there was no money left for fares.

During her posting at Khuman Lampak, her hardship lessened a little when she finally bought a bicycle (costing Rs 1500).Starting from guarding the gate of various offices to performing duties during State's protests and major issues, the women Home Guards (without any arms) have been performing their duties diligently.

During such times, the Home Guards even go home at around 11 pm while claiming that they even go back by foot during bandhs or general strikes.

Serabhanu further stated that when her son passed his class X examination, she was devastated just thinking whether she will have the necessary money to admit her son into a school.

Later, her payment increased to Rs 5000 but always in a delayed and inconsistent manner, she claimed.

On the other hand, another woman Home Guard, Sagolsem Ningol Ngangbam ongbi Sanatombi Devi (42) stated that although she joined Home Guard in 1992, she was suspended owing to excess number of Home Guard.

Later in 1994, she rejoined the profession but did not even have the money to stitch her uniform.

She is presently living with her husband, who takes up any available job, and her two sons who are in class XII.

Coupled with numerous hardships, she claimed that women Home Guards are made to perform their duties, without any arms, in front of CRPF and police personnel during crisis or protests.

Sanatombi said that she has been posted in MDS office in Uripok and Khuman Lampak and in Thoubal.

She claimed that, earlier, her monthly salary was only Rs 1500 and she had to leave her infant home to carry out her duty and she even fell unconscious due to lack of taking food or proper lunch.

One of the inconveniences she faced was during State crisis as she was not allowed to pass the road by the army for wearing civil dress and when she wore the uniform, she was then not allowed to pass by bandh supporters.

Meanwhile, officers of the Battalion Division often direct the women Home Guards to reach the office or the posted area at their own risks, she claimed.

Additional to her hardship, she suffered from piles and had to go to Guwahati for treatment.

However, due to lack of treatment money, she had to mortgage her bank pass book which she has not been able to get back till date.

The mortgage has now reached Rs 1,20,000, she stated.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Sangai Express about women Home Guards, one senior Home Guard Haorongbam Ibeyaima said she joined in 1991 and that earlier, there were only 20 home guards among 1200 selected Home Guards.

It was in 1992 during Home Guard Rising Day that the women Home Guard platoon was formed and presented to the people.

The women Home Guards started performing their duties at bazaars and later were posted at different districts, Government functions etc, she claimed.

Due to minimum presence of women police at that time, the women Home Guards had to go police stations to perform their duties.

They also work hard in maintaining law and order in the State, apart from standing guard during election related activities.

The women Home Guards have been performing twice the workload as compared to a woman police, when it comes to black market raids, hotel drives etc.

They were even made to perform duty at marriage ceremonies also, she claimed.

Ibeyaima further stated that one woman Home Guard Bala was injured by a bullet while performing election duty at Moreh while another Home Guard was also injured during a bank duty at Churachandpur district.

Despite, many injuries and deaths, the State Government has not paid attention to them even once.

Most of them had to pay for treatment from their own pocket money, Ibeyaima claimed.

On the other hand, Manipur Home Guard Employees' Welfare Association secretary Khaidem Inaobi told The Sangai Express that Home Guard was established after the war between India and China in between 1963-64, under Bombay Home Guard Act 1947.Since the establishment of the, profession, the monthly salary gradually increased from Rs 850, Rs 1200, Rs 1500, to Rs 5000 .

In March 11, 2015, the Supreme Court issued an order to increase the allowance of a home guard and to make the payment similar to that of the minimum balance of a constable.

The association submitted a memorandum to the Principal Secretary (Home) and Director General Home Guard cum DGP to implement the order of the Supreme Court.

Following the absence of a response from the State Govt, the association filed a case to the High Court of Manipur urging to direct the State Govt to implement the said order.

As a development, the State Govt directed the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) on February 12, 2018 to make the minimum of pay of a home guard as Rs 7730.Secretary Inaobi further stated that the headquarters of Home Guard is at Lamphelpat while each Home Guard Battalion are set up at Imphal West district, Imphal East district, Thoubal and Bishnupur districts.

Out of more than 2000 total Home Guards, 800 are women.

Since the number of women Home Guards have increased with time, the association had also urged the State Government to provide a Divisional Commander (only for women) led by a woman CO.

While highlighting that majority of the deprived women Home Guards are working hard to maintain their families, the association further urged the State Government to consider the hardships of women Home Guards and give a positive response to the demands of the association.

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