Those Fun Days!

The incident did actually take place, let me go through it, though a few may consider it commonplace while others may enjoy it! The narrative is for the latter and it runs as follows. 

It happened in 1978 at Munabao which is a village in the Barmer District in Rajasthan, bordering Pakistan. It is one of the designated border crossings between two nations, through which once-a-week the train Thar Express, from Bhagat Ki Kothi near Jodhpur to Karachi in Sindh, passed through Munabao on India side, Zero Point border station and Khokhrapar on Pakistan side.

The visit of the touring team from National Defense College was organized by the Brigade operating in the area. It was from a sand dune close to the border and in proximity of Munabao Railway station that the touring team scanned, through their binocs, our area and Khokhrapar town located a kilometer or so inside Pakistani territory.  The Directing Staff discussed with their students the battles fought in this and adjoining areas during the 1965 and 1971 wars. They also requested the Brigade Commander to update them. 

“We have a guest speaker, who will arrive soon. Please be seated and look at the track going towards the border,” he told them, pointing out the sandy track winding its way towards the border.

They all sat down on their chairs, positioned in a semicircle. and looked at the sandy track. Soon they observed a vehicle which was very close to the border approaching their location. The vehicle, a Land Rover, climbed the dune and halted at the car Park, which was 50 meters from them. Two men alighted from it and walked towards them. The leading man was dressed in Sherwani and Churidar pajamas, sported a fairly long white beard, dark glasses covered his eyes and wore a stately colorful turban. The one who followed him was simply dressed in kurta, pajama, and wore the Sindhi cap. A double barrel gun hung around his shoulder. The Brigade Commander got up and shook hands with both of them. He asked them to sit down on the vacant chairs. He faced the team and spoke out. 

“Gentlemen, we have a guest speaker, who was adamant to meet you and exchange a few words. He is going to introduce himself to you all,” he said, pointed towards the guest and sat down.

The guest got up from his chair, came forward and faced the audience with a smile.

“My salutations to the honorable audience. I am Major General Gulzar Hassan Chaudhury. I retired from the Pakistan Army about five years back. I am now living in Khokhrapar looking after my farm. I have fought in both the wars in 1965 and 1971 though not in this area. I wanted to meet you all as I have deep respect for your officers and men. You all are so well learned and informed on past miltary operations therefore for me to speak on them would be showing a candle to the sun. However, the pain and agony inflicted from these wars often haunts me. When in 1965 the PAF bombed and destroyed Munaboa Railway Station my heart sank and it hurt me badly. My grandfather had been the Station Master in the early forties and we were brought up in the raiway quarters. The Railway Station had become my second home, as a child I spent most of my time with my friends there. I heaved a sigh of relief when in 1971 the assault by the Indian troops to capture the heavily defended railway station was called off on declration of the ceasefire. There are many more such stories related to these wars in this area, however they have no tactical significance, hence I will leave it at that,” he said, nodded and returned to his seat. 

Refreshments were served, the students mingled and met Gen Chaudhury. They had many questions for him mainly related to his life after retirement. He answered these as much as he could. The Brigade Commander was questioned whether the Pak General had crossed the border legally or he had been invited by him unofficially as a personal friend.

After a while when everyone had consumed what was served to them, the Brigade Commander got up and requested everyone to return to their seats.

“Gentlemen, you heard the General introduce himself to you. Allow me introduce him to you now,” he said and looked towards the general, who got up and stood next to him.

The General removed his turban, the dark glasses and beard and a loud gasp echoed all round. Surprise and amusement flooded the faces of those present.

“Gentlemen, may I introduce my DA&QMG,” the Brigade Commander said and smiled.

The announcement was met with loud laughter and clapping!

Those who may be curious to know the name of the DA&QMG, it was none other than yours truly!

4 thoughts on “Those Fun Days!”

  1. Great recollections of an era gone by. And what a way to bring up history through the engr DQ dressed as the Pak general.
    I am sure those NDC students will never forget the military history of the place.

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    1. Yes those were the days. Incidentally the Brigade Commander was a Georgian from Ajmer School. We hit on really well. On his instructions the idea emanated. I still remember the expressions on the faces of the NDC students when they discovered the identity of the actual Pak Gen.

      Like

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