Cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur, who helped India storm into the final of the Women’s World Cup with her unbeaten 171 against Australia, is caught in the corridor of uncertainty over her job switch from her current employer, the Western Railway, to the Punjab Police, which offered her the DSP’s post in July last year. The Arjuna award winner is not being relieved by the by the Western Railway, where she worked as an Office Superintendent. Harmanpreet had got the Railway job three years ago under the sports quota, and now a five-year bond signed by her then is being cited by her current employer.
The cricketer was feted by Punjab’s Congress government and offered the job of DSP in July, 2017, even though her request to get a government job nearly five years back had been rejected by the state government earlier.
When contacted, Harmanpreet told The Indian Express over phone that she had not been paid any salary for last five months, despite Western Railway not accepting her resignation which she tendered after Punjab government offered her the job of DSP. Back from Australia on Monday after playing in Big Bash League in Australia, Harmanpreet will attend a training camp that commences on Wednesday ahead of Indian women cricket team’s tour to South Africa later this month
Western Railway, Harmanpreet said, was “demanding Rs 27 lakh” in case she preferred not to honour the five-year bond with the Railways. “I worked for three years only. But, they are asking for the salary of five years to waive off the bond and relieve me,” Harmanpreet said.
“After the World cup, it has been five months that I have not been paid any salary. I am jobless. I am neither getting any salary from Railway nor from Punjab government,” said Harmanpreet, who hails from Moga district in Punjab and will turn 29 on March 8.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, The Indian Express has learnt, taken up the matter with the Union Railway Ministry on more than one occasion to seek relaxation for Harmanpreet. On Monday, Amarinder again wrote to Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal requesting him to consider Harmanpreet’s case on “a different footing and accept her resignation from the Railways for joining Punjab Police in the rank of DSP by granting her relaxation, if any, from the conditions of bond.”
“I would like to request you that the case of Ms Harmanpreet Kaur is different wherein the condition of bond should not apply as she is not leaving the government for a private job. Rather she is joining the state government from a Central Government Organisation for better career prospects. If she is not allowed to join as DSP by imposing the bond by the Railways, it would be unfair to her and amount to punishing rather than rewarding her outstanding performance in Cricket,” he said in his letter.
Western Railway General Manager Anil Kumar Gupta said, “Railway Board recruits people under sports quota and there is a condition of five year bond. In case they want to leave earlier (than five years) they have to reimburse the salary of five years. If they deposit the amount, they are allowed to go.”
Told about Punjab Chief Minister writing to Union Railway Minister to seek relaxation for Harmanpreet, Gupta said the Railways will go by the decision of Railway Board in the case.
Asked if there was a precedent about a similar relaxation been allowed, Gupta said, “Not in my knowledge. As far as my knowledge and whatever information we have got from Railway, there is no such precedent.”
Harmanpreet said she had undergone medical tests and other formalities, but was not allowed to join as DSP with Punjab Police when she went to join in the last week of October. “The IAS officer I met told me that my resignation had not been accepted by the Railways and I have not been relieved,” Harmanpreet said.
Harmanpreet, who was given cash reward of Rs 13 lakh – each member of team had been given that amount – and promoted as Officer on Special Duty (Sports) in Western Railway after her feat in the World Cup said she had rejected the promotion and submitted her resignation instead. “They promoted me after learning that I had got an offer from Punjab government. But, I told them that I wanted to go home,” said Harmanpreet.
She rued that for first one month, her resignation file was “not moved by the Sports Officer” of Western Railway to whom she submitted her resignation and in the second month, they raised the issue of bond. “Actually, I wanted to talk to some reporter (to raise the issue), but thought that I should not be mistaken as if I am speaking against the Railways. Railways was my last hope and had given me a job when Punjab government had turned down my request. I hope, the Railways will give me bond waiver so that I can go to my home state,” said Harmanpreet.
“I think there is a rule that bond gets shifted when you change one government job to other. Punjab Chief Minister has taken up my case for three to four times, but nothing has happened so far,” she said.