Ujjwal Mishra, 42, head of residents’ association in Proview Laboni, Crossings Republik, says our expectations from a security guard are endless
Recently, a video of a Noida woman abusing security guards went viral via social media. The choice of Hindi swearwords used by the lady and racist slurs caused much outrage, leading to the arrest of the woman by Noida Police. This episode has brought to limelight the working condition of security guards at numerous gated high-rise communities in Delhi-NCR.
Being associated with a residents association I have closely seen the working hazards of these security staff who man gates, screen visitors and manage various functions vital for running a housing society. Yet, their job remains thankless and unrecognized by indifferent residents and arrogant visitors.
A guard works in long shift hours – 8 am to 8 pm as morning shift or 8 pm to 8 am graveyard shift. They do not get any weekly off, nor common holidays like Independence Day or Diwali-Dussehra. The workplace has the most basic facilities like toilets, drinking water, a chair and fan. Yet everyone’s expectations from him are endless.
A majority of these guards hail from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal who come to Delhi-NCR in search for better livelihoods. However, they are not directly hired by a housing society. They are provided by agencies who are not the best of paymaster.
The rulebook says that a guard must be given salary within 10 days after completing 30 days of work, but I have seen from personal experience that they are mostly paid towards the end of the second month. So their one month salary always remains due in this cycle. There are days when they have to sleep hungry due to non-payment of salaries.
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Although they are security guards as per their job title, their duties go well beyond keeping a watch. They double up as parking attendants, report wrongly parked vehicles, unauthorized entries, dealing with unruly visitors, sorting out fights between neighbours or between maids and owners fight, managing social events in the premises, catching stray dogs, dealing with monkey menace, helping with stuck lifts… the list is endless. Yet, they hardly ever get credit in smooth day-to-day functioning of a community. In fact, they sometimes face the stick from area police which routinely tell them how to maintain visitors’ records, CCTV footage and play a subservient roles to them.
Not long ago, our honorable Prime Minister launched the “Main bhi chowkidar” campaign which was soon rebutted by the Congress with “Chowkidar chor hai“. However, none of the parties really bothered about the real chowkidar. To my mind, chowkidar chor to nahi hai par pareshan hai (the guard is not a thief, but a stressed soul). He is forever stressed so that he can send his family back home a chunk of his ₹7,000 monthly salary.
Being a resident of a gated colony, I earnestly request all residents, management groups, and clients to recognise the services of the private security guard and treat them with respect. We need to understand that they too may be going through a bad day. Treat them as human. Also, authorities concerned must recognise private security services as an essential service to the country.
As told to Deepti Sharma