Patrolling sentinels fade into oblivion

Patrolling sentinels fade into oblivion

Carrying their trademark lathis, patrolling the streets at night, Gurkhas who instilled a sense of security among people in the City for decades have become a rare sight in recent times.

Until a few years ago, Gurkhas would knock with their lathis at the gates of houses, as a signal to reassure residents that they are on night rounds. While their numbers have come down drastically, a handful of them can still be spotted in some far-off areas in the City.

“Earlier, there were no organised private security agencies and people depended on Gurkhas,” said Kamal Pant, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), explaining the measures by police to increase night patrolling.

“Besides, several Gurkhas have been found involved in crimes in the recent years and people subsequently stopped trusting them.”

Ram Singh Bahadur, a Gurkha, agreed that times had changed. “In the past, when we worked as guards, people were friendly. They would trust us and engage our services. But the trust has been lost as some members of our ethnic group turned criminals.” Now, Gurkhas are forced to look for other jobs as they cannot make a living with the meagre sum they earn as guards, he added.

The present generation of Gurkhas prefers working in housekeeping departments of private companies or enters the hotel industry as waiters or cooks, as these are relatively well-paid jobs.

Some of them are educated and want to lead a decent life, explained Nyeshang Bahadur, a Gurkha living in Thambuchetty Palya, off Old Madras Road. “Each house in the locality pays us just Rs 10-20 per month,” Bahadur said. “This is not enough to make ends meet in this expensive City.”

According to Pant, the second and third generation of Gurkhas is more exposed to the world, unlike their elders. “It is the greed for money that made some of them commit crimes and this has led to their gradual downfall,” said the senior officer. 

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