Yeh bhi Chowkidaar – exalted by PM, done in by reality
The social media may have bolstered the ‘Mai Bhi Chowkidaar’ campaign led by PM Narendra Modi, but real watchmen in Uttar Pradesh want a more respectable remuneration and some allowances to help them and their families lead a respectable life. This, despite the Yogi Adityanath government’s recent initiatives to better the stock of real watchmen, now dubbed gram prahari by CM Adityanath.
These real watchmen, one in every gram panchayat and attached to the respective police station in rural areas, get a paltry Rs 2,500 per month (Rs 83 per day) and are made to work 24x7. Right from sealing the body in case of a crime to making tea for policemen, or even sweeping the police station, the work of a watchman is never ending.
For example, Shiv Babu, a watchman in Sawadih village, under the Phulpur Kotwali, has been working for over a decade. He said that he used to get Rs 1,500 per month till last year, when the Yogi government increased the salary to Rs 2,500.
“In Rs 2,500, I can’t even feed my family of five. The previous state government gave us a cycle and a torch. No conveyance is given to us,” he said.
Similarly, another watchman, Murlidhar Sharma, serving in Parsara village, under the Bara police station, also narrated his tale of woe. “The job is 24x7 without any conveyance or adequate salary. Apart from our basic responsibility of keeping a tab on anti-social elements and keeping the police informed about any untoward happening, it is expected of us to do much more at the police station like making tea, sweeping and even giving a massage to ‘darogaji’,” he said.
According to Holagarh police station inspector Santosh Kumar Dubey, one watchman for each gram panchayat is appointed. “The name of the watchman in case of vacancy is forwarded to district magistrate, who, in turn, approves it. The salary is sent directly to the bank account of the watchman. He has to report to the police station every day but no timing is fixed,” he said.