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Amarnath Yatra: Meet civil defence volunteers—‘The Unsung Heroes’

Amarnath Yatra: Meet civil defence volunteers—‘The Unsung Heroes’

By Vishal Bharti

Jammu, July 10 (UNI) Attired in reflective jackets, standing tall for hours, these bunch of people at par shouldering their responsibilities with the administration in facilitating and guiding the pilgrims of Shri Amarnath Yatra arriving here to perform the pilgrimage.
Meet the volunteers of Civil Defence wing (Jammu and Kashmir Police)— ‘The Unsung Heroes’—engaged by the administration at around half a dozen of locations for crowd management and guidance of the pilgrims reaching every day to Jammu to leave for Shri Amarnath Cave Shrine in a fleet of buses from the Bhagwati Nagar based Yatri Niwas base camp.
“The small numbers of civil defence volunteers are deployed at six locations to guide and facilitate the Shri Amarnath pilgrims and they are dedicatedly performing the tasks,” said an official who wished not to be quoted.
He said, “they are engaged at the token counters and at the spots where the pilgrims are accommodated like Saraswati Dham, Vaishnavi Dham, Panchayat Dham, Mahajan Hall, Geeta Bhawan and Ram Mandir.”
“Around 60 volunteers, who have been part and parcel of the civil defence for decades, are always on the front foot in giving their services to the society whenever they are needed,” said an official.
He said, “the 52 days Amarnath Yatra is concluding on August 19 and for this period, the volunteers will be selflessly performing their duties,” adding, “they start their day at 6 am and get free by afternoon but in return, they are neither acknowledged nor rewarded for their commitment.”
“They are being paid a minimal amount of Rs 30 (per day) during yatra period despite their ‘never say no’ attitude in equally standing by with the administration for smooth conduct of the show,” he said and added that not only during the Amarnath Yatra, these volunteers are always on toes irrespective of any government functions, security related matters, law and order problem.
“We come daily early in the morning for duties and get free by noon,” said a volunteer pleading anonymity.
He said, “we have been associated with the civil defence for the last so many years but never paid any fixed amount. During duties like Amarnath Yatra and other such occasions, the administration should at least announce wages for us.”
“Many people on occasions like Independence Day or Republic Day are rewarded and acknowledged for their contributions but we never get a due appreciation,” said another volunteer adding that a ‘pat on the back’ sometimes charges you up for efficient working.
“The administration must give a thought on fixing at least a minimal honorarium for the civil defence volunteers role in dealing at the time of crisis and urgency,” he suggested and added that due to non recognition, the number of volunteers has drastically come down that demoralises them.
“We are committed and will remain, but we appeal to the administration to acknowledge us for the assistance we are giving in making all the events successful,” he said, “every time we cannot be the ‘Unsung Heroes’ because appreciation always gives a boost and encourages everyone.


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