Mayawati's penchant for statues may have irked many but for ex-armymen this opens up a new job avenue. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister has decided to raise a special battalion to protect the statues of dalit icons across the state, sparking off a demand for ex-soldiers and officers.
Suddenly the ex-servicemen are being sought after in different states for different reasons. Many state governments are raising special forces for specific purposes. If Mayawati plans to deploy former soldiers to protect her pet projects, in Bihar these battle hardened men and officers are being drafted to fight the red army.
“In Bihar, these battalions are called State Auxillary Police or SAP and aimed at tackling the Naxal menace. They have been successful too. Jharkhand too has one. Orissa is thinking of following suit. I guess at least three to four other states have similar plans. But the one in UP would be unique as it would be the first ever battalion of ex-army men raised to guard memorials and parks,” said a senior army officer of the Lucknow based Central Command.
There are roughly three lakh ex-servicemen in UP. “In varying age groups, these retired officers and men have a their unique selling proposition (USP) -- their discipline. Nearly half of them are fighting fit and it’s this fit-and-willing segment, which is now offering trained manpower. The 1200-men which the UP government wishes to employ too should come from this segment,” the officer said.
The state government, however, has not yet said how it wants to go about making the recruitments.
The force of ex-servicemen, to be headed by an ex-army Colonel, is to function under the administrative control of the state’s home department.
Brij Lal, the additional director general, law and order (ADG), UP, said, “I don’t know much since the government order (GO) hasn’t been issued as yet.”
In Bihar, the recruitments were made through the state/district Soldier Boards. In UP, these state/district boards haven’t been contacted as yet.
Lt Colonel (retd) DS Dubey, the Zila Sainik Kalyan Adhikari, Lucknow, said, “I have no word from the government on this so far.”
Army officers feel the government could make direct recruitments without involving the district/state body of ex-army men. But they also say involving the state/district soldier board would make more sense since they keep details of ex-army men.