The 30 jawans from Solapur, who had been staying at the Gateway of India and guarding the Taj hotel for at least two months, were asked to move out of the heritage structure even though they had nowhere else to go.
The State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) jawans have now been reduced to living on the footpath across the iconic structure. Senior police officers asked them to vacate the Gateway premises late on Thursday night.
"We were told that the Navy is having a program at the site and asked to move out," said a jawan posted there since September. "Earlier, at least we had a roof over our heads. The government should have first thought about where we would stay and then moved us."
The jawans spent the night on the footpath near the Shivaji statue. The jawans now change, dry their clothes and sleep inside their mini SRPF van. Their bags lie strewn all over.
Deputy commissioner of SRPF, S.Ladke, said the authorities were looking for accommodation for them. "If we cannot find anything ... we will put them up at the Worli or Goregaon SRPF units and arrange for a vehicle to drop them [at the Taj] for duty," said Ladke.
The men were initially stuffed in the one-room police chowky at Gateway at night.
"We know that Gateway is a heritage structure and did our best to not deface it," said an SRPF officer. "All we did was rest there after our 12-hour duty."
Ladke also visited the Oberoi Hotel SRPF base to enquire about the accommodation problems of the jawans posted there.