Saroj and Sunita, aged 16 and 18 years respectively, travelled around 700 km from Nagaur district in Rajasthan to reach Ambala in the wee hours of the morning to take part in the recruitment rally for women in Corps of Military Police (CMP). A few hours later they were preparing to head back home after they failed to clear the physical fitness test. “We will come again,” said a determined Sunita.
The five-day recruitment rally from September 7 to 11 at Ambala has seen young women aspirants for the Army come from far off places in northern India. Candidates from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Delhi had been allotted the Ambala recruitment centre.
This is the first time that roles in the Army, other than officer-level, have been opened up for women. The Army intends to recruit 100 women in CMP in the first phase taking the total number up to 1700 eventually.
“I did three and a half rounds of the 1600 metre run and then fell down due to stomach ache,” said Saroj. Many girls were unable to clear the run, she added. “We reached Ambala at 2:30 am. The girls did not get much sleep and were tired after the long journey. But they were determined to do their best,” said Rampal, uncle of Saroj and Sunita who accompanied them from Nagaur. He added that it was too hot and the candidates were fainting.
Asked why did they not consider joining police or central police organisations, most girls at the recruitment rally said that Army was their first choice. “I cannot clear the entrance test for officers so thought this was golden opportunity to don the Army uniform,” said Dolly, who had come from New Delhi.
Dolly’s father, Om Parkash, runs a tailoring shop and said that his daughter was insistent on joining the Army. “She is pursuing B.Com and is in first year and very keen to be in the Military Police,” he said. Dolly, sitting exhausted, was also unable to complete her physical fitness test.
A few yards away, Sandeep and Ravi, both friends, were happy that their respective sisters — Sunita and Roshni — had cleared the physical examination. Both had come from Sikar district in Rajasthan after travelling nearly ten hours.
“We have no communication with the girls undergoing tests, but since they have not come out with the other girls it is understood that they have cleared the test. My sister prepared very hard for it, she used to get up early in the morning forcing me too to get up with her,” said Ravi.
Col Som Nath Gupta, in-charge of the recruitment rally, said: “1700 turned up for the recruitment rally, while call letters had been sent to 5000 candidates.” He added that 45-50 per cent candidates failed to clear the physical fitness tests.
“They did not come prepared. From what I could see most just got up and came for the rally. They were very motivated, but should have been better prepared physically,” he said.
Col Gupta informed that women candidates have to clear the 1600 metre run in seven minutes as compared to five minutes given to male candidates. “A written test will be held now for the candidates who passed today’s tests on October 26 and a merit list will be made for final selection by the Army HQs,” he said.
Most candidates spoken to were pursuing graduation or had completed their graduation though the minimum qualification demanded by the Army for recruitment in military police was Class 10 with 45 per cent marks in aggregate and minimum 33 per cent marks in each subject studied.