Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Security takes a hit at women protection homes, thanks to staff shortage

The recent escape of a teenage girl from the Vadodara women protection home (WPH) twice in as many days has raised serious questions over security arrangements at WPHs in the region with authorities blaming it on the shortage of staff.
Arti Yadav, a resident of Madhya Pradesh, and Poornima Thakor of Valsad had ran away from the WPH by jumping over the compound wall on June 3. Police had managed to trace Arti on the same day and sent her back to the Home. However, the teenager escaped again from the Home the next morning by breaking open window grills of her room.
WPH superintendent Kamal Pandor holds staff crunch responsible for the escapes. The Home, which currently accommodates 57 inmates, faces shortage of custody staff to look after them.
Against the sanctioned strength of three security guards, it has only two, one of them being outsourced from the District Water Supply and Sanitation Board (DWSSB) and the other slated to retire this month. The post of a woman guard remains vacant for months.
“We have been asked to fill the posts on fixed-salary basis with monthly pay of around Rs 3,000. We have made every effort but no woman is ready to take up this responsibility against that amount,” Pandor told The Indian Express.
The situation is similar at other WPHs in the region, which have also been witnesses to such incidents in recent past.
The Godhra WPH does not have a guard of its own to do duty during the night. “The guard of children’s home provides us security at night. The post of a craft teacher is also vacant. We have written to higher authorities several times about the shortage of staff, but to no avail,” said Reunka Meda, superintendent of Godhra WPH that houses 21 inmates.
A few inmates had escaped from this Home around two years ago.
The WPH at Bharuch does not even have a superintendent for the last one and a half years. There is no security guard during the day time, leading to two teenage girls escaping early this year. The posts of a nurse and a clerk also remain vacant.
“It is very difficult to tend to the 33 inmates, a few of them mentally retarded, with the limited staff we have,” said Chhaya Bhatiya, in-charge superintendent of the Home.
However, WPH in Dahod is an exception as it has three women security guards and only the post of a medical attendant is lying vacant.
Lakshmikant Patel, Social Defence Officer (SDO) of Vadodara who also holds charge of the Panchmahals district, admitted that manpower was a problem at these protection homes.
Director of Social Defence Rajnikant Patle said, “The department is short of women staff members and since these are women institutes, only women can be appointed on certain posts. So we are appointing a lot of in-charge officers. As far as vacant posts of security guards are concerned, we have asked them to fill up the posts on fixed-salary basis.”