There are 420 active units of home guards currently employed in Karnataka.
Nearly 4,000 home guard posts, out of the sanctioned 30,000, are vacant in the state. Home guards assist the police department with security in many situations, mainly during elections. With the Karnataka Assembly elections set to be held before May, 2023; these vacancies need to be filled up soon, according to an official of the Karnataka Home Guards and Civil Defence Department (KHGCD).
P. Rajappa, Instructor, KHGCD, Bengaluru North district, said, “There are many vacancies in the home guards department. We are trying to fill them up as soon as we can.” He said that home guards are deployed to many departments, mainly the police department. They are also allotted to provide security services in many government and political offices. He added, “Our main focus now, is the upcoming elections. So, I will pull home guards from other places like government offices, and allot them to election and bandobast duties.”
The KHGCD website states that home guards are an auxiliary force to the police department. They are to provide protection to citizens in any untoward situation. The central government had sanctioned 21,700 home guard posts for Karnataka in 1962. This number was raised to 30,000 by the Karnataka state government in 2016. As of September, 2022, there were vacancies for 3,947 posts out of the sanctioned 30,000 posts.
Bengaluru North district currently has 1850 home guards employed by the state. There are around 224 posts still vacant in the district. Each home guard is employed on a three-year contract basis. After their contract is up, they get the option to renew their contract for another three years, if interested. Once they apply, each candidate has to undergo a 10-day training before they are allotted their duties.
Peter, a home guard who recently renewed his contract, said, “I joined home guards as I did not know what else to do at that time.” He said that he found out about home guards from a family friend and decided to apply for it. He did not know where to go or how to apply. He had to get help from other people to figure out the procedure to apply. “I think the main problem here is that no one knows the process of applying for home guards,” he added.
In February, 2022, it was reported that Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that as home guards are a voluntary force, they do not have job security. He said that job security cannot be provided to them in the future too. Several home guards said that this statement from him had caused them to feel wary about renewing their contract again.
Padmakshi. T. S, Deputy Commandant, KHGCD, said that the department will soon start to advertise in the local newspapers and tv channels about the vacancies. “Any interested candidate can get the application form from their district office and apply.” She said that the age limit is 19 to 45 years for both men and women. She added that they do not show any discrimination based on gender.
Rajappa said that salaries for home guards depend on where they are posted. If they are posted to the police department, they are paid Rs. 23,000 per month, as they are considered to be equal to police officers. They are paid Rs. 750 per day for election and bandobast duties, Rs. 600 per day to provide security in other government offices, and Rs. 455 per day to work in hospitals and lakes. He added, “Most people find better jobs after their contract is up, which is one of the reasons why the vacancies are prevalent.”
A public policy expert said, “People might be interested to renew their contracts if there is an incentive in it for them. But, since this is a voluntary organization, the government has no obligation to provide one for them.” She said that as soon as the contract ends, most people use their experience as a home guard to find better jobs. For most of them, the salary they get as home guards is not enough. So, they try to find jobs with a higher pay. She said that there is not enough awareness on home guards and what they do. “There should be awareness exercises conducted by the government so that people know that there is something good that they can apply for,” she added.