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Govt staff turn M S Gill's chowkidars

Sports Authority of India employees Raj Singh and Des Raj, both watchmen with the SAI Northern Centre, Chandigarh, guard Sports Minister M S Gill's residence. Saurabh Duggal reports.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 17, 2010 02:15 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times

Sports Authority of India (SAI) employees Raj Singh and Des Raj, both watchmen with the SAI Northern Centre, Chandigarh, have been working without a single holiday from July 1.

They work 12-hour shifts without any overtime or weekly or compensatory offs - they even worked on Independence Day, a mandatory day off for government employees.

But which precise location do they work at?

Not at the SAI Northern Centre office. They come in to the office only once a week, to mark their attendance.

For the rest of the time, they get a salary of Rs 15,000 each a month (a total of Rs 30,000 of taxpayers' money) to watch over House No 507, Sector 33B, Chandigarh, a private residence.

The Chandigarh estate office record lists the house owner as M S Gill, who is also India's Sports Minister.

Northern Centre's Deputy Director V S Chauhan admitted both watchmen were employed by the Centre, but refused to comment when asked why they were posted at Gill's private residence.

A SAI official however, told Hindustan Times they had received "verbal orders" to that effect.

"There's nothing in writing, but we've been told to make sure someone's there as the house is empty," said an official.

This correspondent, posing as a SAI official from Delhi, visited the house at 1 pm on Monday, when Raj Singh was on duty.

Asked whether he was taking proper care of the house, Singh said: "We have been coming daily to the Sports Minister's house from July 1, and haven't missed a single day. Des Raj has some personal work today and will not come for the night shift, so I will stay for an entire 24-hours."

But because this is not official overtime, Raj Singh will get no extra payment.

Gill could not be contacted by phone (either on his cell or at his office or residence) and did not respond to text messages.

Meanwhile there is a staff crunch at SAI's Northern Centre.

"We have to constantly work overtime as Raj Singh and Des Raj are away doing duty at Minister sahib's house," said one employee.

"Somehow we manage. But it's even tougher for both of them, with their 12-hour shifts. If Gill sahib wants his house guarded, why can't he hire a private security guard?"

Sunil Paul from Hillguard, a private security firm in Chandigarh, said a guard can be hired for about Rs 7,000 a month for an eight-hour shift.

First Published: Aug 17, 2010 00:59 IST