How delay in armed forces recruitment has put lives of youths on hold

Jitendra Kumar was all of 16 when he began to dream of donning the olive uniform. Photos: Sat Singh

The training ground in Haryana’s Talu village was Pawan Panghal’s second home. This is where he literally grew up. This is where he ran and worked out, got bitten by mosquitoes and the bug to join the Indian Army. Pawan would hit the ground most mornings at 3 am, hours before anyone else would turn up. So, by the time others came, Pawan would be ready to wrap up for the day. On April 27, he followed the same routine and came to practice at 3 am. But hours later when others started to walk into the training ground, they did not find Pawan running or leaving. They found him hanging from a tree.

Just months before he died by suicide, Pawan had won the first prize in an inter-village 21-km marathon.

With the Army recruitment process put on hold in view of the Covid restrictions, Pawan, an arts graduate and NCC cadet, could not come to terms with the fact that years of hard work had come to mean nothing as he had crossed the upper age limit for a general duty officer in the Indian Army.

In a note he left behind, Pawan apologised to his parents for not being able to fulfil their dreams of him becoming a ‘jawan’.

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