Mistreatment forced us not to perform poll duties in Assam allege Home Guard personnel (Ld)

Guwahati/Silchar (Assam), April 3 (IANS) The Home Guard personnel in Assam on Saturday alleged that due to the inhuman treatments and negligence of the Cachar district authorities they had been forced to return to their homes without performing election duties in the second phase of polling on Thursday.

On behalf of the distressed Home Guard personnel, Sanjib Das said that when they went to perform the election duties in the first phase of polling in eastern Assam on March 27, they got Rs 5,100 and the authorities have properly taken care of.

“When we reached Cachar district nobody inquired about us. More than 500 Home Guard personnel including women were lodged in a school but there were no basic amenities including water in the camp (school),” Das, who is serving the Home Guard wing of the Assam government for around 10 years, told IANS over phone from his home at Uttar Barbil in western Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.

“Our authorities before the elections had assured us to give Rs 5,100 for each of the phases, but they did not keep their promises,” the 27-year-old Home Guard personnel said.

He said that many of the Home Guard personnel serve for 20 to 25 years with poor daily wages at the rate of Rs 300 per day.

Das, a father of two school children, claimed that despite demands for many years, the Assam government did not increase their wages.

Police and district officials on Saturday hinted that the authorities in Assam are likely to take action against over 500 Home Guards who refused to perform election duties and went to their homes.

Cachar district Police Superintendent Bhanwar Lal Meena said that conduct of the second phase of the Assembly election in southern Assam on Thursday was not hampered and the election process was very peaceful and smooth despite the Home Guards refusing to perform election duties.

Hinting at taking actions against the disgruntled Home Guards, the district police chief said that a section of the personnel (Home Guards) did not keen to hear the logic of the authorities about their wages.

“Refusal to perform election duties is against the law,” Meena told the media.

Election officials in Guwahati said that the authorities had earlier announced to provide the Home Guards one month wages for the three phases of election duties at the rate of Rs 300 per day.

“In the first phase of election duties in eastern Assam (upper Assam), they got Rs 5,100 and the remaining amount out of a month’s total wages of Rs 9,000 supposed to be paid in the second and third phases. But they want a similar amount like that of the first phase,” an election official said on condition of anonymity.

However, the Home Guards comprising men and women, engaged on a contractual basis at the rate of wages of Rs 300 per day, while talking to the media alleged that the local administration did not arrange proper food, shelter, toilets and even water for them.

“We have requested the police and election officials to increase our wages but they said that they would give us Rs 900 or Rs 1,000 for three to four days of election duties in the second phase. How can we manage for 3-4 days in just Rs 900 or Rs 1,000?” a Home Guard personnel questioned.

The Home Guards before returning to their homes had organised protests and demonstrations and gave slogans against the Assam government and police officials.

Nearly 81 per cent of the 73,44,631 voters exercised their franchise in the second phase of polling in Assam on Thursday in the 39 constituencies.

Around 80 per cent of 81,09,815 voters cast their votes on March 27 in the first phase of polling in 47 constituencies.

Of the three-phase elections to the 126-member Assam Assembly, the third and final phase of polling will be held in 40 seats on April 6. The results will be declared on May 2.

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