Caught off-guard in a vortex of violence

Recently, instances of violence and abuse against security guards have exponentially spiked in Delhi-NCR. Those on security duty say facing the wrath of their clients has become integral to their jobs and they are bound by protocols not to retaliate

Caught off-guard in a vortex of violence

Representational photo: Pixabay

Weeks after a lawyer was arrested for assaulting a security guard and subjecting him to racist insults in Noida, two other similar incidents have surfaced, the latest being reported on 11 September. 

At the Cleo County residential complex in Noida’s Sector 121, a woman slapped a security guard following an altercation. Preventive action has been taken against the woman, a professor. 

On 22 August, advocate Bhavya Roy was caught on camera hurling racist slurs at Anoop Kumar, grabbing him by the collar and making indecent gestures at him at the entry gate of Jaypee Wishtown society under Sector 126, also in Noida. After the clip went viral, she was arrested and sent to custody for 14 days, but was later released.

Less than 10 days later, a video of a resident of Gurugram’s The Close North Apartment showed a man, who had been stuck inside the elevator, raining slaps on a security guard out of rage as soon as he came out. Later, the tenant was identified as Varun Nath and the guard, Ashok Kumar, was left humiliated. 

Nath too was arrested by the Gurugram police and then released on bail.

No security for guards

Sonu Singh, placed on duty at a gated building in Kailash Colony, believes taking the blame for incidents he is not responsible for is a “big part” of his job. 

“I have not faced any difficulty during the day. In my 15 years here, two or three people who were reasonably angry found it more convenient to vent their rage by blaming me. But that’s alright. I believe that is part of the job,” he says. 

“The primary issue is with drunk men,” he adds, recalling an incident of atrocity he faced. “Once, a group of five drunk men were trying to park their car and accidentally struck the gate. The driver, who is a tenant in the building, held me by the collar and punched me in my face and abdomen,” he says. 

“Even if I wanted to retaliate, I couldn’t because there were five others against me,” Singh adds. Therefore, Singh now sits in a dark corner of the parking lot to evade the perpetrators, while simultaneously guarding the building from afar.

He says that the job provides no security or insurance. “We must either listen to all the insults and roll with the punches quietly, or remain unemployed and watch our family starve. We’ll be in big trouble if we try to hit any of the residents in self-defence because guards are replaceable, but clients are not. The firm that hires us typically sides with the consumers,” Singh rues.

In the grip of abuse

Not reacting to abuse is a big part of training for the security guards. “We are taught to accept expletives with a smile on our faces. Never to react because that may go against us,” says Sahu. 

The 35-year-old moved to Delhi during Diwali last year and has been working at Sarita Vihar DDA apartments since. Born and raised in Odisha’s Sundargarh, Sahu spent a decade across Tamil Nadu, including Salem and Coimbatore, as a security guard before he shifted to Delhi.

“We all have self-respect, but we are not allowed to act to protect it. People abuse us left, right, and centre for trivial things like sitting down during duty hours. We are expected to stand all through the eight-hour shift. Some people are nasty, and when they spot us sitting or resting for a bit, they slam us with abuse,” he says. 

According to Bhagiroth, the experience of being a security guard was not unpleasant in Tamil Nadu. “Here people driving cars use slurs even while ordering us to open the gates. I have not faced any violent incidents yet, but facing abuse has become a regular part of my job,” he says. 

When the young man watches the news about security guards being thrashed mercilessly, he feels “dejected”, but he is “not surprised”. 

“Yes, I am scared that some day I may be at the receiving end of violence, par abhi kya kar sakte hain. Jo hai, yahi hai ab (but what can we do about it now? It is what it is)”, Sahu concludes.

‘No help at hand’ 

Working as a security guard for the previous five years, Sheebu (name changed) was accustomed to following ‘commands’ from superiors, no matter how nasty the orders were.

He was 30 when he was violently assaulted with wooden sticks while working at a luxurious bungalow in Bharat Nagar, near New Friends Colony. “I was put on duty for 5-6 months at the bungalow. Initially, the work was fine, but towards the end of my term there, my boss hosted a birthday party for his son, who was in his early 20s,” recalls Sheebu, who hails from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. 

He was instructed not to not allow “outsiders” and to let in “only friends”. Guarding the giant house alone, he noticed a side door through which a few people were entering to attend the event. “I was told that they were all friends. But then, dozens more arrived at the gate who had no invitation pass that was shared with me for verification,” he continues. 

“I objected to their entry, as I was strictly ordered to not allow anyone without a pass. Those guys didn’t take it well and a scuffle broke out, but I was able to get them off the premises,” he says.

However, the men returned half-an-hour later with a gang of 10 people more, as Sheebu narrates, with sticks. A petrified Sheebu tried to call the young man whose birthday was being celebrated inside, but there was no response. “They began beating me up. How could one person hold them off anyway? It went on for 10 minutes and then they all left,” he says. 

When his boss was informed, he took Sheebu for first aid. “But for all the rest of the treatment, I had to bear the cost of the expensive balms. My boss was happy that I performed well on the job, but when I was being violently beaten up, no one turned up”, he adds. 

Following the incident, his place of duty was changed. So far, no such incident has taken place at Sukhdev Vihar DDA apartments.

Shoddy behaviour

Mohan Kumar, a security guard in Sector 20, Noida, says that they don’t receive any respect. “People treat us like we’re servants. I’ve been working for the past eight years, when social media platforms were not that much popular, and similar incidents were disregarded and dismissed by everybody”, he says.

When asked if he had ever sought assistance from his security agency or police, Kumar stated that the possibility of them receiving assistance is far less than the possibility of them being fired and unemployed. “Once you’re out of the good graces of the agencies that got you the job, it becomes extremely difficult to find another job as a security guard. So, often, we just try to ignore it as a bad memory”, he says.

Saying he is glad that now his colleagues are receiving justice and help, he adds, “I’d like to ask everyone to treat us with respect and decency as well; we don’t mistreat anybody, we follow your directions, we take care of your possessions and your safety, we greet you every time we see you. The treatment we get in return is simply not fair.”

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