Guarding Oberoi, but they live in vans, on footpaths
They have been taking turns to guard the Taj and Oberoi hotels in south Mumbai since the two structures were attacked on November 26, 2008, reports HT Correspondent.mumbai Updated: Nov 20, 2009 00:32 IST
They have been taking turns to guard the Taj and Oberoi hotels in south Mumbai since the two structures were attacked on November 26, 2008.
But a year later, there seems to have been no effort to ensure even basic facilities for State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) jawans guarding these landmark hotels every minute.
While the jawans outside Taj Hotel have been forced to make the iconic Gateway of India their home, those outside Oberoi do not even have the luxury of a roof over their heads.
The 25 SRPF jawans guarding Oberoi and Trident have made their van their home. Clothes and utensils hang shabbily in the van while jawans try to catch two hours of sleep on the uncomfortable seats after 12 hours of duty.
Hindustan Times was not allowed to take a picture of the jawans outside Oberoi.
They feel their counterparts at Gateway are better off. “At least they have a roof over their heads and relax after duty hours,” said a jawan. “But here there are 25 men and a single van to sleep, eat and change.”
Swank cars drive past a rusty iron bed that sits on a footpath outside Oberoi. The jawans man three bunkers around the Trident and Oberoi all day.
They had it worse during the monsoon. “Even after covering the van with steel sheets we would get drenched,” said an SRPF officer from Jalna posted at Oberoi. “Even in the parking lot dirty rain water would get accumulated. It was unbearable.”
SRPF Deputy Inspector General Ashok Dongre said, “The matter will be looked into.”
Across the road from the Taj vest-clad SRPF personnel sleep inside the Gateway of India amidst clothes hanging on clotheslines and plastic bags carrying their belongings.
“In the rains, we used to sleep under a leaking roof. Where do we go?” said an SRPF officer from Solapur. “We know this is a heritage monument and should not be littered. We are doing our best to not degrade it but 30 of us cannot stay inside a van.”
The jawans get their food from the Worli police canteen and from the Taj group while those outside Oberoi get their meals from the Bhoiwada police canteen.
Tourists throng the Taj hotel to click pictures, but turn their eyes away from the clutter at Gateway. “The heritage structure is kept clean for the tourists but even we are posted here to protect them,” said an SRPF officer.