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Death of a dream

But an evening call to appear at the orderly room turned Raj Bahadur's life upside down as he was given a letter issued from the headquarters in Allahabad, telling him he had been sacked. A report by Haider Naqvi.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2008 22:54 IST
Haider Naqvi

There was a time when Raj Bahadur would sprint eight miles a day and pump iron at the makeshift gymnasium in his village of Bighepur. It was his way of building on a dream he had lived since childhood. The young man’s moment of truth came two years ago when he got to wear his dream: the khaki uniform.

“That was the only future I’d reserved for myself,” he says.

Raj Bahadur had applied when the previous Mulayam Singh Yadav government began recruiting police constables en masse. Raj topped his class in the physical tests. Eventually, the Class XII passout was among the 18,500 selected from around the state.

Over the next 15 months, Raj trained hard in police schools and got his first posting in Sitapur on a net salary of Rs 6,700. “It seemed I couldn’t have asked for more. My feeble parents were at peace; my brother resumed his studies,” he remembers with a wry smile. “Everyone in the family wanted me to settle down.”

<b1>But an evening call to appear at the orderly room turned his life upside down. He was given a letter issued from the headquarters in Allahabad, telling him he had been sacked. “I was numbed and kept looking at the Reserve Inspector for so long that he came and shook me,” he remembers.

He spent the night sharing, as he puts it, the darkest hour of life with others who had met with a similar fate. On his return, he was by greeted by his family members with silence.

“If there was anything wrong with the selection, the government had the means to find out the people who had entered though the backdoor. Why were people like me given the elbow? I had made it on merit,” he says.

For days he wandered depressed. To make ends meet, he took up a job as a tempo driver for a paltry Rs 1,500. Later, he became a taxi driver and added Rs 700 to his monthly income. His has done away with driving in the second half of the day: he supplies milk to households in the evenings.

There are others like Raj in the locality. Gaurav Tewari is learning computers and Anil Yadav is tutoring kids for a pittance.

But Noor Mohammad didn’t have the grit to carry on in the face of such adversity. The dejected 24-year-old took his life after a month of being sacked from the Etawah police force.