After finding out that many Home Guards get paid even though they are not reporting to duty and sensing an internal scam relating to the way they function, senior Home Guard officials have written to the Mumbai Police commissioner to register offences of cheating and forgery against errant personnel.
Sources said many Home Guards — who get paid Rs 400 daily to volunteer — had been found to be doing private jobs. They have also been found to submit forged work certificates by giving a cut of their fee to officers issuing such certificates.
The annual government spending on Home Guards is Rs 120 crore. There are over 38,000 volunteer Home Guards in the state, who are deployed for bandobast during festivals alongside the local police. The Home Guards are also deployed at several railway stations and trains to overcome the staff crunch of the railway police.
“After receiving several complaints, we set up an enquiry and found that many Home Guards were doing regular private jobs and even while they worked there, were being marked present for their Home Guard duties,”said a senior official from the Home Guards department.
“After many such instances were reported, we decided to seek opinion from the Director of Prosecution for the state and wrote a letter to him on April 27 this year,” the official said.
According to the official, the legal opinion given to them was that the offenders be booked for cheating and forgery under sections 417, 468 and 465 of the IPC.
Another senior official said, “A volunteering Home Guard gets Rs 400 per day. But many of them just sign and leave for their respective jobs. They connive with officials in police stations and the railway police, who issue false work certificates.”
“In a few instances, we found that a volunteer was shown present by two different police stations on the same day. There is also a lot of overwriting done in the musters.” The committee, which was formed following growing complaints, found that there were irregularities during bandobast duties last year during school examinations, Dahi Handi, Ganesh festival and Navratri, when Home Guards were deployed across the state.
The probe also indicated that officials attached to Mahim, Dadar and Mumbai Central Railways police, and Vinoba Bhave police and Worli police stations issued false work certificates to such Home Guards even when they were not on duty.
“Commuters, especially women, have often expressed concerns over Home Guards never being present in the trains post 9pm. This scam exposes the reason behind the men failing to turn up for the jobs. They just take the money by colluding with the policemen and don’t report to work,” said another official.
A letter written by the Home Guards on May 9 provides details of the scam with the role played by the Home Guards, the police units and their own scrutiny staffers. “We have, along with the letter, also submitted a detailed report of our findings and requested the city police commissioner to register criminal cases against the offenders,” said the official.