Ex-commandos helping MCD officials during raids & demolitions
Having served all over the world and the country, a group of highly-trained ex-Servicemen are now fighting battles against parking mafia, illegal meat shops, property tax-evaders and anyone else who incurs the wrath of the municipal corporations of Delhi.
Twenty retired personnel from the Army’s Para Commandos and National Security Guard have been working in the civic body’s enforcement cell since 2010. In their previous incarnation, all 20 commandos were tested in conflict zones ranging from Kargil to Nagaland as well as in peace-keeping missions abroad.
The cell is managed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, but services all the three civic bodies. The commandos, as they like to be called, are hired on renewable six-month contracts as field operatives.
Dressed in all-black uniforms, the decades of training and discipline pay off as their mere presence helps in tense situations. They help municipal officials during raids, demolitions and inspections. They also keep a check on municipal employees’ attendance, which makes them unpopular with tardy workers.
“It was the former Lieutenant-Governor’s plan to hire Army and NSG commandos in 2010. We were hired through the Directorate General of Resettlement,” explained S. S. Bhandari, the supervisor of the cell.
Mr. Bhandari retired from the Army in 2008 as a Subedar Major in the Para Brigade. In his three-decade-long career, including seven years in the NSG, he was deployed in Kashmir, South Africa and the Maldives.
He was a part of Operation Cactus in 1988, where the Indian Army helped then Maldives President Maumoom Abdul Gayoom regain control of Male after a coup. Explaining the complexity of the operation, he said: “We got the orders and immediately flew from Agra to Maldives. The aircraft could not even land, so we had to quickly slither down the ropes”.
But, these days encroachments and unauthorised buildings are keeping Mr. Bhandari busy. “When we were in the forces, we had to fight outsiders. But here in Delhi it is our people, so we don’t do have to engage in scuffles. We’re here for protection of the municipal officials in sensitive areas and situations,” he said.
One of the commandos, 40-year-old Mann Singh, who fought in the Kargil War, said working with the municipal corporations was a breeze compared to his Army career. “The Army is really tough, this job is relaxing in comparison. Earlier we used to come home after months, now our families are happy that we’re with them,” he said.
Another commando, Singhara Singh chimed in: “Here we can work for 24 hours and it’s not a big deal.” The former Para Commando spent 17 years in the Army before retiring. After serving in Siachen, he said, 24-hour shifts for toll tax monitoring in Delhi are a cakewalk.
Though their current jobs are not as challenging as their Army careers, the commandos take it with the same seriousness. “Desh ke liye kaam kiya hai, ab Dilli ke liye kaam kar rahe hai,” Mr. Bhandari proclaimed.