TODAY -

Journey from SPOs to VDFs : Respecting the uniform they wear
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: March 30 2015 -



Demands under consideration. This is Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam referring to the demands put up by personnel of Village Defence Force (VDF).

As everyone, at least those who read the newspapers meticulously would put it, the VDF personnel raised their voice of protest demanding, among other things, a hike in their monthly honorarium, payment of honorarium for 13 months in a year, service protection and transformation of VDF as a regular force.

The agitation was topped off by a 24 hour State wide bandh which came into effect from midnight of March 27.

The immediate factor for imposing the bandh was in protest against the crackdown launched by the State police on a group of VDF personnel after a meeting at THAU ground some days back.

The VDF personnel had also alleged that some of their colleagues were put under arrest while their vehicles were impounded by the police personnel.

With DGP Shahid Ahmed stepping in and giving an audience to the agitating VDF personnel, the stir has been suspended with immediate effect, but this is not the time for the Government to sleep over the matter.

No one in his or her right mind would endorse a bandh or a general strike, but it is nonetheless important for all to seriously mull over the question of why VDF personnel decided to launch a cease work strike and cap it off with a 24 hour Statewide bandh.

There may be different takes on the formation of the VDF, but it is there on record that it came into being after the infamous Heirok incident many years back.

First it was the Special Police Officers and it was rechristened VDF after a hue and cry was raised.

It has not been smooth sailing since then and today there is nothing much to suggest that all is hunky dory, amply demonstrated by the latest round of Statewide bandh.

Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam, who incidentally holds the Home portfolio, was candid enough to admit that there is just no way for the State Government to meet the financial demands of the VDF personnel.

This much is understandable for remember the total strength of the VDF is more than 10,000.

However it is noteworthy that the Deputy Chief Minister has not rubbished the demands of the VDF personnel.

This indicates that some sort of a solution may be worked out, but it is anybody’s guess whether such a solution will be acceptable to all the VDF personnel.

As things stand today, the pay of the VDF personnel is a measly Rs 5000 per month. This is like a joke, but then the VDF is not a regular force and the State Government will not be in a financial position to pay them more.

Nothing has also been laid down in black and white over the service conditions of the VDF personnel.

Does this then mean that a VDF man can be dismissed from service at the fancy and whim of the man or men in positions of power ?

Moreover it stands that all VDF personnel have had to perform duties which far outweigh the pay they receive every month.

Also remember that the VDF job did not come to them on a platter and it is not without reason why there are talks doing the round about the asking rate of appointment in the VDF.

A tragedy it is to think that the VDF has been formed and made to work hard with the Government unable to pay them adequately.

Respecting the uniform they wear should cut both ways.



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