New Delhi: After widespread outrage over the Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government sacking 25,000 home guards, the government on Thursday said it was rolling back its decision but the duty days would be reduced to 20-22 from 30 days at present.
The news of termination, especially amid the festival season, spread like wildfire on Wednesday, with the Opposition Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and others lashing out at the Adityanath government for ‘fanning unemployment” instead of creating jobs. Social media also showed videos of some home guards begging for money as a mark of protest.
On Thursday, the state home guards minister Chetan Chauhan clarified that no official letter had been received from the state home department in this regard and that no one would be fired, but admitted that there were budgetary constraints. "Due to budget constraints, the days of duties will be less, but the service of home guards won't be terminated."
"We have not received any official letter from the Home Department. I assure that no one will be removed from their jobs. No formal decision has been taken. Due to budget constraint, the days of duty will be reduced to 20-22 from 30 days," Chauhan was quoted as saying by ANI.
Chauhan also said he would meet the Chief Minister on the matter.
Speaking with Newsclick after the recent update by Chauhan, Ramendra Yadav, president of the Home Guards Association, said, "The Home Guard Minister is trying to divert attention from the real issue. The issue is not exactly the termination of home guards, but the cutting down of our duty days. On October 1, the government ended the duty of 16,519 home guards citing fund crunch. Again, on October 11, they relieved the duty of 25,000 personnel despite the fact that the state home department had deployed these 25,000 home guards because of the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.”
With the final Ayodhya verdict next month, security in the state has been beefed up. Terminating home guards in such a situation is fraught with risk for the entire state and its people, he said.
"After the home guards were removed from duty, UP’s Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh had written a letter to the CM, asking him to bring back all these home guards as the law and order could become worse as the final judgment on the Ayodhya case is coming, as well the festival season is going on,” he said, adding that it was the “Additional Director General (ADG) BP Jogdand who issued the order to terminate home guards."
Citing the mover as a violation of the Supreme Court’s order on ‘equal pay for equal work’, Yadav said: “The irony is that the BJP government is also violating the order of the Supreme Court on ‘equal pay for equal work’, as per which home guards should be paid as much as the police of the state. But we are getting the salary of cooks, masons, peons etc. If this continues, we will go to court against the government."
Ramnath Gupta, a home guard posted in Kanpur, who had filed a petition along with five others in Allahabad High Court in 2015, seeking equal pay for equal work, said, “ADG Jogdand, who issued the termination order on October 15, had signed a contract for three years with then Home Guard Minister Surya Prakash Shukla because Uttar Pradesh police department was running short of police personnel. After the contract, 25,000 home guards were sent every year to the state police department, starting from March 2017 to March 2020. But, suddenly, due to the stated financial crunch or some other reason, he terminated the contract before March 2020."
Accusing the Adityanath government of deflecting attention from the issue, Gupta alleged that thousands of home guards, who had been caught unawares during festival time, were now being threatened against raising their voice
"Home Guard officers, along with minister, met Chief Minister Adityanath and were told that there were budgetary constraints and that in March 2020, during next budget session, the government would allot funds. Then future of these home guards could be decided and that we will get 30 days duty. But we also came to know that there is something fishy and the government is trying to divert attention so that we cannot raise our voice. We have been also told that if we hold any protest against this, the government would file FIRs against us. That’s why home guards are living in fear. We can neither protest nor demand our rights", he said.
Gupta said that in a such a situation, the aggrieved home guards would have no option but to approach the Supreme Court.
"Earlier when Anil Rajbhar was Home Guard Minister, he had completed all the documents and formalities to send home guards to the border, and Adityanath had approved the proposal,” Gupta claimed, adding that since the BJP government was flouting the SC’s order on ‘equal work for equal pay’, we may move the apex court and file a contempt of court petition against the Adityanath government.
On October 15, the Uttar Pradesh government terminated the services of 25,000 home guards of the police department in the state. In an order, the Uttar Pradesh police headquarters in Prayagraj had stated that 25,000 home guards would be relieved from their duties soon.
"The decision to end 25,000 home guard services was taken on August 28 this year in a meeting chaired by Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary," the order, issued by ADG Jogdand.