New Delhi: There will be a change of guards at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as the administration has zeroed in on the Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO) to provide security services on the campus. The AWPO is a welfare organisation of the Indian Army which was established in May 1999 to assist retiring or retired personnel of the force in getting suitable jobs. This establishment is in addition to, yet independent of, the Directorate General Resettlement (DGR).
However, News18 found that the move has triggered unease among many of the nearly 400 guards from private security firm G4S, deployed on the campus right now, as they are worried about losing their jobs.
Confirming the development, JNU registrar Pramod Kumar said, “The government of India runs a rehabilitation programme for the ex-servicemen. The university has decided to change the security arrangement from G4S to AWPO.”
Kumar said the contract with G4S expired almost three years ago and the university floated a tender several times but had no success in locating a suitable replacement. “Later, we approached the defence services to find out if they had anything for us. We got eight to nine tenders from them, and the university picked the AWPO one as it fulfilled our criterion,” he added.
Security has been tighter at JNU after anti-India slogans were allegedly raised during an event on 9 February 2016 to mark the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, and police arrested the-then students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar as well as others. The university’s chief security officer put out a circular on December 31 last year, saying security guards had been told “not to allow entry to any unauthorised person or vehicle” on campus. Residents were asked to “cooperate” with the personnel if they wanted to “frisk them or their vehicle”.
One of the guards from G4S deployed on the campus, who did not wish to be named, said, “There are approximately 400 security guards here. Earlier, even if the tender went to some other company, the guards continued – they could join with a new contract. But now we are anxious that with the ex-servicemen outfit set to take over from G4S, we may not have a chance to continue. The administration should have thought about us and issued a notification about this new contract six months in advance so that the guards could have planned ahead.”
There have been several clashes between student groups representing the Left and the Right on the campus since the 2016 incident. Instances of hostility between some students and teachers have also come to the fore. JNU had also stepped up security on campus this year against the backdrop of tensions between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terrorist attack.
The AWPO webpage informs: “Army is an excellent source of skilled manpower, right across the board. Every year, thousands of highly trained officers, including Short Service Commissioned Officers and Women Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and Jawans leave the Service and are keen for a second career. Army Personnel guarantee all-round high standards. They are reliable, self-motivated and committed individuals with extensive specialist training and a ‘can do’ attitude.”
The AWPO website is an interactive portal which was launched by the Chief of the Army Staff on 28 Jun 2005. It provides opportunities for ex-Army personnel on the lookout for jobs as well as employers searching for trained and disciplined human resource.