Amid rising incidents of ‘harassment’, security guards learn to fight back

Agencies that place the guards in Noida societies are sensitizing them on how to protect themselves if the situation turns violent; many guards have quit their jobs following the attacks

Agencies that place the guards in Noida societies are sensitizing them on how to protect themselves if the situation turns violent; many guards have quit their jobs following the attacks

Ujjwal Shukla, a 24-year-old man from Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh, recently started working at a garment company as an office assistant.

The arts graduate said he got lucky with the new job after quitting his old position as a security guard in a plush society in Noida in a hurry. Asked what prompted him to change his job, Mr. Shukla said, “Managing a family of five with minimum wages and little or no respect is a difficult task.”

mr. Shukla was one of the guards who was attacked and abused by three women residents of Ajnara Green Homes in Noida Sector 121 on October 8. One woman, who was allegedly inebriated, held Mr. Shukla by his collar and threw away his cap. While an FIR was registered and the women were arrested, they were let out on bail the next day.

“This wasn’t the first time they [the three women] had misbehaved with us. On October 1, they hurled abuses at us when we were doing our duty of checking every vehicle before allowing them entry,” said Mr. Sugar.

Viral video

A video of the attack went viral on social media and triggered an outrage, following which the society asked the three women to vacate their flat.

For the guards, however, the video only caused “humiliation and embarrassment”. “My family asked me to change the job after seeing the clip,” said Mr. Sugar.

Another guard, Sachin Rana, who had been working at the society for four years, also left his job after the incident. He said he has applied to telecom companies for a sales position.

This is not a one-off case. Multiple incidents of “verbal and physical harassment” of security guards in housing societies in Noida have been caught on CCTV cameras in the past few months. These attacks have prompted the agencies hiring and placing the security guards to sensitize them on how to deal with the situation if things spiral out of control.

Akash Srivastava, HR head at Samson Securitas Pvt Ltd, said in the wake of the recent attacks, they have asked their guards to report to their field officers if they face bad behaviour. “If that doesn’t help, then they can approach their supervisor, the security officer, the president of the society or the police, depending on the severity of the matter,” he said.

mr. Srivastava said the guards have been asked to speak to the residents politely, even in situations when they the latter are found to be inebriated. “If a fight ensues between individuals, the guards have been asked to record a video consensually,” he said.

Several guards told The Hindu that the agencies have asked them to always remain in contact with the local police officers. “We have been asked to make a video if a situation escalates and lodge an FIR in case of violence,” said a guard on condition of anonymity.

Minimum wages

Most security guards The Hindu spoke to said they are paid minimum wages for working over 10 hours a day.

“I am 19 and I have to work for 12 hours a day to earn ₹12,000 a month. If I take a leave, ₹400 is cut from my salary,” said Pankaj Agnihotri, a security guard at Ajnara Green Homes.

Another guard from Cleo County, who did not wish to be named, said, “In such high-rise societies, you don’t work for your employer [placement agency]you work for these people [residents]but nobody cares.”

According to the guards, the arguments with residents usually begin over the time taken in allowing entry into the society. “It’s our duty to keep a check. If we don’t, we will be held responsible,” said Ravinder, a guard at Ajnara Green Homes.

The incidents of misconduct and violence against the security guards have prompted some of the societies to take steps for their safety and betterment. Shobhit Kapoor, a board member of Apartment owner Association (AoA) at Ajnara Green Homes, said, “We are ensuring that action is taken against residents found misbehaving with the guards. We are also monitoring that no guard is overworked.” mr. Kapoor said they have also asked the placement agencies to make provident fund compulsory for all the guards.

While the AoA is trying to ensure a safe working environment for security guards, most of them believe the change has to come from within the residents. mr. Ravinder said most incidents happen at night when the residents return home in an inebriated state. “All we can do is speak to the residents calmly, we cannot take any action because it may lead to a fight,” he said.

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