Meet Kuldip Kaur (55) has been working as the village chowkidar at Bangiwal,since 2008. She is one of only two women among the 13,500 chowkidars appointed by the government to guard 13,000 villages of Punjab. The other is Razia Begum, who guards Bir, 15 km away from Bangiwal, who came into profession a year or two after her.
Dressed up in a simple salwar-kameez, head covered with a dupatta, the moment she steps out, her first priority is to take a quick check of the several lanes in the village before coming around to the main street by 9.30 pm. “After that, I go and sit for at least 20 minutes at a chabutra (platform) built around an old banyan tree, where the men play cards during the day. I sit there and call out villagers’ names and shout ‘Jagde raho’ (keep awake),” Kuldip says, adding, “Then I move to the other corner of the village.”
With a population of around 1,500 and around 500-600 houses at stake spread over three or four sq km, long breaks are off the table as she has to take a round of entire lanes. “Earlier, I used to work for seven to eight hours ie till 3:30-4:00am, but since the last two or three years, I have been working for four to five hours only and return home between 12:30-1am,” she shares.
The reason for this is that she has been diagnosed with a cataract recently, which has been making it difficult for her night duty. Though she comes home early, one of her two sons take the mantle from her. “At times people even make fun of me when I say Jagde raho as I pass by their homes, but all these things don’t affect me anymore as I have become used to it,” she says.
sources : Tribune