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Thursday, October 14, 2010


Poonch district (J&K)Image via Wikipedia
My unit was posted at Poonch during 1965-1966. This was a very eventful period in the history of  India. Lal Bahadur Shastri was elected Prime Minister under K Kamaraja plan. The nation was undergoing economic crisis and a severe  food shortage.

Shastri gave a slogan to the nation 'Jai Ja
Lal Bahadur ShastriImage via Wikipedia
wan,Jai Kisan', Hail the Soldier,Hail the Farmer. He also called upon the people to miss a meal on Mondays. 
                                      Our Officer commanding called a meeting of all the officers in the 
mess. He passed  orders that there shall be no kitchen on Monday evenings. All of us said 'yes Sir' hastily and asked the Mess Havaldar to get the table laid for lunch.

All of us, 24 young officers, retired to our living quarters ostensibly to have an afternoon siesta but none could sleep properly. One by one all of us got up, put on our gowns and sat down to talk.  The question of missing a meal on Monday evenings was churning in every one's mind. Capt.Sham Lal and Capt. Kohli were very upset.

''I have never gone to bed on an empty stomach,'' declared Capt. Kohli.
Capt. Sham Lal also expressed the same feelings.''But we can't openly defy the orders, we have to find out some way. ''

The tea trolley arrived just at that time. We kept quiet to avoid the mess servants from hearing and changed the topic.

It was  Saturday evening. We put on our civvies and went to the club in the city in small groups of four  to have a little fun.

Capt. Shamlal, Capt. Kohli and Capt. Khurana branched off on a secret mission about which we came to know later.  

On Monday evening we slipped out,   one by one, led by Capt. Sham Lal to a 'dhaba' just near the Poonch fort . We took care that our Commanding Officer and 2nd in command, Maj. Hudda, who lived at a distance on an adjoining hillock didn't know. 

Aloo Parantha with ButterImage by NA.dir via Flickr
The dhaba owner had been given instructions to keep the shutters down after 8 p.m.  He had been told to serve  'paranthas' stuffed with kidney beans (rajma)  with butter and curds  immediately after the arrival of 2/3 officers. This was done to minimise the absence of large number of officers from the regiment for a long period.

This clandestine operation 'Stuffed Paranthas'
went on smoothly for 4-5  weeks. But Maj Hudda our 2nd in command had observed that the officers were absent every Monday evening. He got suspicious and  decided to follow us surreptitiously one  such evening. 

While we were  enjoying our 'stuffed paranthas' Maj Hudda walked in with mock sniffing act. 
'You bloody well, could have invited this old man also.  I had been starving all these days every Monday evening. Then he turned to the adjutant- Capt. Mehta- and mockingly admonished him ''This is a serious lapse on your part and you shall have to pay for it.''  Capt. Mehta ordered two extra thick Stuffed Paranthas for Maj. Hudda and everything settled down.

The curtains were pulled down  on our secret Operation Paranthas. Even our Officer Commanding came to know of it and he also ordered 'stuffed Paranthas'  to be packed and sent to him on Monday evenings...

Poonch district (J&K)Image via Wikipedia  Poonch District 



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