Road was long to INS Hamla By Rajendra Chaudhary
Why & How did I join Indian Navy-
It was 1962 and Indo-China war was on and I was 11 years old and studying in seventh class. Many military men and vehicles were on move. In fact my native village is on the Patna-Mokamah road. My village Athmal Gola is situated on both sides of the road. All the people of our village watching the Army convoys pass through the village. All of us were saluting to the military personnel. I was too happy by watching them and I felt, this is the best service which pays both money and respect. That time I decided to join military’s forces and that thought struck in my mind.
My journey to join in Defence started when I became 13 year old and studying in ninth class in the year of 1964. One of my friend Ishwar Lal came and told me , will go to Patna and join military. I asked him we are very young and not matric pass. He replied, they are recruiting boys also. I told him I do not have money. He said we do not need money mere one rupee and eight anas is enough which was with him. He knew I will not refuse because everyday all the time I am talking to join the Defence We both get on a tumtum gadi and reached Bakhtiyar Pur. From Bakhtiyar Pur we took train and reached Patna. For me it was first time to reach Patna. We were aware of the recruiting office.
But we asked from the station and reached to Recruiting Office at 1430 hour. There was no much movement inside. The gate keeper was standing on the out side the gate. We asked him about the recruiting he directed us to enquire from the Army man. He allowed me to go inside. We met him and asked about the recruitment. He told us to go away there is no recruitment at all and if we want to talk about recruitment come at 0800 hour. We wanted to know from him more. Another army man told us to come after two year you are very young you can not join even as boys entry. He also ask is to come with certificate Nothing much he allowed us to talk. We left the place without much information We came back home. On the way we started finding some excuse because we were late Anyway when we reached our village we could know our parents are in search for us. But we knew for this mistake we will be punished We were not beaten badly but we were scolded very badly our parents said no harm in joining Defence but after your education.
In 1965, when Indo Pak started I was in tenth class. We could know from others there are recruitment for various post in all recruiting office. I was knowing the place so I took permission from my father to go to recruiting office, though my mother was never ready to permit, I left home at 0400 hours and walked eight kilometer upto Bakhtiyar Pur then took train and reached Patna Recruiting Office at 0815 hours There was heavy rush almost 1200 persons were standing outside I too joined and stood behind them I could see there were only three persons of my age. All were very healthy and little older. I stood till the last there was call for all Matric passed person should make a Que and rest should go out and wait. I was waiting till 1500 hour there were no call for below matric. One of person from my village Mr Rajkumar Singh was recruited I had to wait for him to carry the message to his home. This process continued till I gave my Matric exam and later.
In 1967, I appeared for Matric exam but I did not pass and again I went to Ranchi to try my luck. I kept on visiting Recruiting Office Ranchi once every month. In 1968, I joined as cleaner with my a relative driver. I couldn’t even succeeded in that and left the job. My interest for joining in Defence did not go away. In 1969, I could know by seeing the board out side the Recruiting Office, there are post for ninth pass in the Navy. Then I continued regular practice to enquiry about vacancy.
In July 1969, one day I was literally annoyed and I quarreled in side recruiting office by questioning the staff present there. In between Lt. Cdr ML Manchanda came from outside and stood behind me. I was questioning to staff there are many boards outside which says ninth pass can join Navy but you are not allowing us to stand here. When ever I have visited every time you tell us only Matric pass should stand inside others should go out. Why it is so. Lt Cdr ML Manchanda was listening our conversation. Other all those who were standing together with me ran away and I was caught by Manchanda. He was very angry, he took me inside and asked me why did I talk like this. I answered him sir for last five year I am coming to recruiting office whether Patna or Ranchi every time there is recruitment of Matric pass but why not for ninth pass. I told him I appear for Matric exam but due to my family problem I could not pass and I can not appear again because of my financial problem. By the time he was cool and asked me where do I live. I explained him I am coming from 80 kilo mitre away I come in the night to Ranchi and early morning to recruiting office He asked me whether I am ready to join Navy as a steward I was not knowing the meaning of steward but I replied him yes sir. He again said you have to clean the plates. I knew the meaning of plate that is called saucer. My interest was to join Navy branch did not matter for me. My answer was only positive. Then he asked can I stay in Ranchi for another two three days I replied him in positive. It was 11 o clock, he called one Subedar and asked him to take my physical details. I went inside with him he took all my physical and professional details. He asked me to go home after completing all the details.
I went back to one of the friend’s house and stayed with him. My friend was packing Garam Masala every day in the morning and evening he used to go to some market to sell it off. It was his everyday routine. When ever I used to come to Ranchi I used to help him in packing and in return I used to get food and shelter. Next day I went to recruiting office and some how I met the same Subedar Ji. I reminded him of yesterday my meeting. He refused to talk to me. He only said there is no vacancy. It was surprise for me but I did not go back I waited for Lt Cdr.L Manchanda. Manchanda sir came late at about 11 o clock I was standing out side. When he entered inside I also came in though other staff tried to stop me. When I entered his office he asked why I am late. I replied him, ‘sir I am waiting here from 8 o clock’.
He asked me did I met to the Subedar Saheb I replied yes sir but he told me there is no vacancy. Immediately he asked his man to call Subedar Saheb. Subedar Saheb came and discussed with him. I did not knew anything about discussion but I was taken by Subedar Saheb to his office. Subedar Saheb started searching the paper but he could not find. Immediately he took another paper and filled up everything again. After completing the paper he came with me to Manchanda Saheb. Manchanda Saheb saw the paper and asked him to take me to the medical officer. We together reached to Medical room and I was medically examined by the Mediical Officer. Later I was asked to come next day.
Next day I was present in time to Recruiting Office and approached the Subedar Saheb. He was not happy with me and asked to wait outside. I was waiting outside till 10 o clock. When I realized no one is helpful I went in side and entered in Manchanda Saheb office. Seeing me he asked why are you again late. I replied him I am here from morning. He got up and asked me to come behind him. He also asked whether I will be able to complete maths exam in time. I replied I will do it sir. He took me to one room and asked me to sit down. He also said Education Officer will come here and I have to complete the Math paper. He left from there and started waiting for Ed O. After few minutes Ed O came and asked me why I am sitting inside. I replied very politely Manchanda Saheb told me to meet you. He went and met Manchanda Saheb. On his return he gave a maths paper which had answer sheet in the same. I completed the the paper and got up to hand over the paper he asked to check again the paper. I sat dawn and started checking the paper. After checking the paper I handed over to him. He took paper on hand and referred all. I was waiting for his instruction. Later he asked me to go home. He also said when required we will call you. I was not happy with his answer because if I am selected he should say so. I was waiting there. He left the place and asked me to go out. I was of the view that I will be sent immediately or will be given a date to come. Nothing happened as such so I left the office but did not leave Ranchi.
There was doubt in my mind after all thing completed why I am being sent back. I wanted the answer from Manchanda Saheb so I came next day again to recruiting office and waited for Manchanda Saheb arrival. He came to office late I was waiting for him. Once he entered in his office I went in and told him. Sir I was told to go home by Ed O. He replied me you go home we will call you when required. I was very sad with the answer and left the office. Later I went back to my village on 2nd August. I felt I was made fool by them. I waited for call or any letter from Recruiting Office. I gave present address of my brother who was living in Ranchi . I waited till September end and lost all hope. I opened a small petty shop on first October in my village and felt this is fate it can never be changed. I was suffering with heavy debt. My parents took loan from the money lender. I took responsibility to return the loan because my brother was not on right path. He never contributed any money for home. Even my sister in law was living with us.
On 7th October we received a telegram from my brother “Rajendra, come soon’. Those days there were no other fast communication. We did not know the matter. My sister in law and mother started crying. They felt my brother is not well. I had already lost my hope so I did not think else. I never thought that they(recruiting officer) will be so kind enough to call me because I am not being selected for Collectors Post. Even when I told about my story to my friend they expressed the same. Any how I had to leave Athmal Gola same day. After reaching to my brother’s place I could know that there was a call for me to be present in Recruiting Office on 11 October 1969. I was so much happy that can never be expressed. It was my long journey to reach this stage. I reached Ranchi Recruiting Office on eleventh morning. I had to go through all the test again and I was given warrant to join Indian Navy on thirteenth October 1969. Later on I realised there were no vacancy in the August batch but on the kindness of Manchanda Saheb I was kept in reserve for next Batch. I left Ranchi with other two friend. In fact I tried to locate and meet Manchanda Saheb many times but I could not But I always prayed for his good health. My desired remained unfulfilled to meet again.
Served the navy with Pride:-
I joined Indian Navy on 13.10.1969 as Steward II and received B&D training in INS Hamla for 2 months. Later I received training for Steward. I passed out in the month of June 1970 and joined INAS 310 in Cochin.
After serving navy for 15 years I retired and started my own successful catering business and am a happy and content person, thanks to Navy for giving me confidence and experience.. Jai Hind ( CONCLUDED)”
Courtesy : Post by Ranjit Singh Sekhon