By Tenali Rama
With just two months to go before the high-profile Indian Housing Society decides on the new security agency to guard its sprawling premises, there is intense competition to grab the contract. The tenders opened on March 18 and the residents will vote to choose their next chowkidar.
The incumbent agency has been under fire for turning a blind eye to thefts in the society, a charge its general secretary refuted emphatically.
“I am an excellent chowkidar and so is my team of chowkidars. Indian Housing Society ki Jai,” said the general secretary.
The agency is facing a tough challenge from the Chowkidar Congress that lost the contract in 2014. The president of the Chowkidar Congress who is trying hard to bag the security contract for the next five years claimed that the present chowkidar is a chor (thief). “He is in league with a merchant who he is trying to benefit,” he alleged.
The Chowkidar Congress has found support from residents in the Telugu block who reside in the southern part of the society complex. They are backing the Chowkidar Congress and have accused the incumbent agency with not providing special security to the Telugu block.
“From the beginning, I am saying that so many Telugu residents moved out of a big house into a small house in 2014. What I am saying is that it does not mean the agency does not care for us any more. I am very clear that the agency is hurting Telugu pride and self-respect. Till his contract is not revoked, we will wear black shirts,” complained the spokesperson of the Telugu block.
A resident of the Bengali Block has alleged that the agency is vigilant only about the security of homes belonging to the majority community. The agency has denied the charge, saying that it believed in “Sabka saath, sabki chowkidari”.
The agency is also accused of removing the CCTVs installed at the complex overnight, without informing anyone. The decision to do so on a winter night in November 2016 took everyone by surprise, forcing residents to go without digital security for close to two months.
In order to beef up its chances to secure the contract for a second consecutive term, the agency has brought in a nationalistic flavour. The name of the agency has been changed to Bharatiya Chowkidar Panel (BCP). Its general secretary said, “Hum chor ke ghar me ghus kar marenge.”
Making a pitch before the Indian Housing society, its representatives pointed out that unlike Chowkidar Congress which provided security between 2004 and 2014, the BCP had decided not to deploy any chowkidars above the age of 75. They also pointed out that when there was an attempt to break into a house after scaling the wall by a group of burglars in February, their chief chowkidar had chased them across the wall.
“In our community of chowkidars, we call such acts of courage as surgical strike on burglars,” explained the representatives.
The BCP chowkidars who do duty at the Society between 8 pm and 11 pm are also using the time to visit every home, telling the residents that the Chowkidar Congress was in league with the burglars. Photographs of some chowkidars who were arrested and sent to prison have also been circulated, both offline and online.
The BCP has now come up with a campaign narrative that pitches every member of the society as a chowkidar. “Each one of you is a chowkidar. And if the president of the Chowkidar Congress calls our general secretary a chor, he is indirectly calling you one as well,” said a BCP representative.
The BCP has also blamed the founder president of the Chowkidar Congress for not acting immediately when a part of the society’s land was encroached upon by miscreants in the neighbourhood. The BCP links all security issues in the society complex to burglars in the immediate vicinity.
“The Chowkidar Congress cannot digest the fact that our general secretary, who was earlier a chaiwalla can also multitask to become a chowkidar. They want to monopolise chowkidari in this society,” claimed the BCP in an online message to all residents.