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July 16, 1999
Punjabi youth spurred by Kargil
Harkirat Singh in Amritsar
The Kargil conflict has rekindled the craze among young Punjabi men to join the army. Stirred by patriotic spirit, boys, mainly from rural and semi-urban areas of the border state, are showing enthusiasm to fight for the country.
The zeal among candidates at a state-level recruitment rally on Thursday was reminiscent of the the attitude the youth had during the days when Supercop K P S Gill was heading a determined fight against militancy in the state.
''I had initially not thought of joining the army, but the Kargil development has struck me emotionally,'' says 18-year-old Rajpal Singh from Gurdaspur district.
Ignoring the summer heat, among the hundreds of aspirants at the rally at the Panthers stadium, were those who drew inspiration from their parents. Points out Balwinder Singh from Hoshiarpur: ''My father, himself a jawan fighting in Kargil now, had recently sent a letter to me telling me go to Amritsar and try joining the army. His words kindled my patriotic feelings.''
Ram Lal from Jalandhar is another youth at the rally whose father and grandfather have faced the hardships of being armymen. ''My father was injured in the initial stages of the Kargil conflict,'' he says.
Recruiting officers who often found such rallies lacking in numbers in Punjab, are pleased by the mentality of the aspirants.
''Usually it is impressive, but this time it is overwhelming. Most of these boys are physically strong and would have no problem clearing the physical test,'' says an official.
These youngsters, unlike their urban counterparts, work in the fields after school hours. This, the officials point out, adds strength to their physique.
However, lack of quality of the general standard of primary and secondary education in the state leaves the officers apprehensive of their passing the written test.
Some of the candidates refer to the absence of bribery to be one of the reasons which prompted them to join the armed forces. ''In the army you don't need to offer bribes. This does not happen in the case of earning jobs in the state government departments,'' claims Satpal Satti, a Mazbhi Sikh from this district, who wants to join the Sikh Light Infantry.
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