Read part 1 here. 🙂
In Indian Army, secret programs and agenda are decided hidden to the knowledge of the public. Only the political and army honchos would be aware of it. One such secret agenda of Indian army was to have groups of trained commandos at their disposal for internal threats. None of this would be known to the public or appear in the media but the intention was whenever an issue occurs, the groups of commandos step in and kill the issue within no time. This was a gambit for the government to save their face in future which was suffering a very bad political repute.
Obvious choice of selection was Punjab along with Rajasthan, the land of patriotic soldiers and legendary freedom fighters. There every family had one of its members serving the Indian Army and they were proud of it.
Akeel Japal, the only son of Ashok Jagpal and Jashoda, was a grade 10 student when he was initially selected for the Indian Army. Ashok had a shop in the junction and they were pretty much living hand to mouth. He was a man with good regard in the society. His wife Jashoda was a school teacher and she quit her job to stay back home and take care of Akeel after his birth. He had a blissful childhood, to hear stories from his mother and be pampered like baby even when he was 15. He was very much attached to his mother resulting in being sensitive and emotional. His grandfather was an Army man and his father used to tell him proudly the stories of those days. Akeel from then had the dream of making it to the army so that someday his name will also be taken by the next generations with such pride and honor. A noble thought indeed.
Akeel excelled in academics and he was a good athlete at the same time. He trained rifles and shooting when he was enrolled for National Cadet Corps (NCC) by the school. In his 10th grade, when the commando selections commenced, the army had made it a point to notify each school of their village along with the other villages to inform students about the same. The Army selection criterion was much strict this time, as the purpose was far more different than the normal one. They had specifically set benchmarks for the selection.
Akeel informs his parents and expressed his wish to go for the recruitment. His father felt that going to recruitment would give him an idea of interviews though he never wanted to see him in Army. His mother blindly opposed the thought but Akeel was adamant that he would go for it. In the selection grounds, the candidates were tested for their physical endurance, stamina and candidates surviving these tests were allowed to go in for the interview which checked their IQ. On the whole it was a 4 day long affair. It was very similar to the SSB selections. Akeel got through in the endurance section and interviewers were impressed with his academic background, knowledge about guns and rifles and overall personality though he was considered to be a bit of shy and apprehensive. There were many who got selected and they would be under observation for a 2 year stint as part of behavioral analysis of the candidates.
Before the end of two years, Akeel got a letter from the senior most regiment of Indian Army, Rajputana Rifles. The letter mentioned that Akeel Jagpal will be trained under their Regiment but at various places and upon successful completion will be offered a post which will be decided as per his performance in the training.
Within months of joining, Akeel knew that it was far from his dream. The 2 years in the beginning was the toughest part of the training. With year 1 being dedicated to personality development and fitness trainings. Regular taunts and harassments from the older members, harsh punishments and rude ways had him completely depressed. Sometimes stripped and beaten, some other times woken up from the sleep to be bullied. Being of a soft nature, all he could do is shed tears in the dark. In order to make them ready for the future, the new recruits were harassed and the officers would turn a blind eye to this. Blood stains, cuts on faces, bruises were all a part of it. There was also an army school where the new recruits took their academic lessons.
After rigorous 8 months, Akeel got his first leave of 10 days. He spends the first 7 days at home and came to Delhi on the 8th day to meet a couple of his old friends, and instead he ended up meeting Dr. Alexander and his family.
(To be continued)