BSNL tower guards protest for salary, threaten network shutdown

BSNL tower guards protest for salary, threaten network shutdown

Iqbal Kirmani

SRINAGAR: The guards responsible for security and maintenance of the network towers of New Delhi-owned telecommunication company BSNL Tuesday protested over nonpayment of their salaries.
Scores of the security guards from across this central Kashmir district gathered here to stage protest demonstrations.
According to the protesters, their salaries are unpaid since April 2014 while they have been forced into a state of impoverishment.
“Without salary, I haven’t been able to pay the rent for my house. Besides, I struggle to manage expenses of my family,” Muhammad Hussain Khan, who guards the BSNL tower at Zainakadal in old Srinagar, said.
Khan hails from Baramulla district in north Kashmir, he has shifted to the city to work as the security guard, he said.
Khan’s fate is shared by most of his fellow guards.
Said Jehangir Ahmad, a resident of Shopian district in south Kashmir who is posted at SKIMS Medical College at Bemina here: “We all are basically from districts outside Srinagar. Leave aside the problem we face in supporting our families, without salary we cannot even pay the monthly rent.”
The protesters said their salaries are to be paid by BSNL through Kirti Traders Jammu, the agency that the telecom company has hired the services of for security of its towers.
“The agency is too insensitive to understand our plight,” Abdul Ahad Mir, a protester, said.
Stating that they are left with no choice but to protest, the protesting security guards threatened to shut down all the towers on February 1 if their salaries were not released before the deadline.
“If our salaries are not paid by February 1, we will shut down all the BSNL in district Srinagar,” they said.
BSNL’s General Manager Mobiles, DK Agarwal, however said the company has “already disbursed most of the salary amount.”
“It is basically the agency that is delaying the payment of the salaries. We have nothing to do with this matter,” Agarwal told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, Head of Kirti Traders Jammu, Sartaj Ahmad, said the agency had transferred the salary amount into the account of one Rostum Ali Khan, who has been responsible for paying salaries to the guards.
“Khan is guard himself, and he in charge of the distribution. We had transferred the cumulative salary from April to June to his account, but he has not distributed the money among the guards,” Sartaj told Kashmir Reader.
Sartaj said the agency cannot release the salaries until Khan furnishes details.
“He is in police custody. We have to wait for the details from him,” he said.