Sep 29, 2023
Sep 29, 2023
I was D. G. Police, U. P. in the year 2000 and had gone for the inspection of police station Mussoorie, district Dehradun (Uttarakhand was not yet created). There I went into the record room and saw an old wooden almirah (cupboard) that was full of some old registers covered with dust and mice droppings. I expressed my displeasure on the records being kept so shabbily and asked the Deewan Jee (head constable responsible for keeping the records) to clean the dirt immediately and then put up some of those registers before me. After quickly dusting them Deewan jee put up two registers before me. I was glancing through one of them when an F.I.R. written on 19th Nov., 1963 u/s 452/427 Indian Penal Code attracted my attention. Chowkidar Bahadur Singh of Forest Rest House, Kandi had lodged a complaint that during the previous night when he had left the rest house for his home, some unknown persons had entered the rest house by breaking the glass pane of the shutter of a door, which was bolted from inside. They had also burnt some of the furniture of the rest house in the fire-place. I read each and every word of the F.I.R. with such pleasure which a child gets while committing a deliberate mischief thinking that he is not being observed.
The F.I.R. related to a very romantic experience of my life, which I remembered in complete detail. On 18th Nov. 1963 I was a trainee probationer in National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. It was an off day. After taking heavy breakfast I along with seven other probationers had started on a trek to river Yamuna that was about 18-20 K.M. distant from Mussoorie. Although a road was under construction, but it was at a primitive stage and no vehicle plied on it; and the only means to go there was by walking on foot. It was a sunny and warm morning and since none of us had any previous experience of treacherous route and tricky weather of the hills, we had not taken food items or warm clothing other than a sweater presuming that we shall be back in Mussoorie much before sunset. After we crossed Kempty fall, whose charm had delayed us enough, we found that the route was getting tougher. At one place a good length of the kuchcha road had been swept down by rain completely. Most of us thought of returning from there instead of risking our lives in crossing it, but one Indian Postal service probationer Vishnu Saksena, who was a dare devil, encouraged and helped us cross the fissure. Most of us could cross by holding his finger only. Thus he had to make several rounds. Resultantly, when we reached Yamuna River, sun had started going down. We had not come across any dhaba or tea-shop en-route and we were extremely hungry. One of us disclosed that he had brought some namkeen which we shared while enjoying the beauty of the river flowing through the Himalayan foothills. The charm of the slowly flowing river was heightened here by its apparent serenity as the place was like a valley with little slope. But Vishnu told us that the serenity of water was very deceptive because last year a probationer, who was good at swimming, had jumped into the inviting water and never surfaced again.
We started back soon so as to be able to cross the dangerous fissure before sunset but while on our onward journey it was all downhill, on the return journey it was all uphill and we were dog-tired. We had hardly covered a few kilometers when it started getting dark. It was also getting colder with each passing hour. Our confidence to be able to reach back Mussoorie was vanishing. So, when we saw a village on the roadside comprising of 5-6 houses, we thought of asking some villager for possibility of a shelter for the night. But no man was there to talk to. We saw a woman milking a cow and one of us proceeded to approach her. But as this young man advanced towards her, she ran into her home like a girl being chased by a mad dog. Thereafter we dared not stay there for a moment for fear of becoming a victim of male residents’ ire.
When we reached the fissure, it was pitch dark and we were hungry, cold and mortally afraid for our lives. We shouted at the top of our voices for help from anybody, whosoever might hear us, but there was no response excepting the echo of our shouts reverberating between the hills. And as it subsided we could here only the eerie sound of the jungle, which mercilessly added to our fear of the unknown. We had Vishnu Saksena alone as our savior, but were quite skeptical that even he would be able to get all of us through without any mishap. In fact the patch of the road which had been washed away was extremely slippery, and any slip of the foot would have made us roll down in the deep gorge like a rubber ball. We were quite confused and uncertain whether we should risk our lives trying to cross the patch with Vishnu’s support or we should take risk of dying due to hypothermia on the road. But Vishnu encouraged us and with the help of a torch and a broken branch of a tree he made us cross the fissure one by one without a mishap. On having crossed the fissure without anybody slipping down the gorge, we shouted with such joy as if we had just escaped drowning in mid-ocean.
Then we started trudging again towards Mussoorie. After moving a few kilometers more, we saw a chholdari (small tent) pitched by the side of the road in which a lantern was lit. The possibility of a man being there raised our spirits substantially and we called for help. A man came out and on our query told us that there is a forest rest house about a kilometer away deep in the jungle. On our offer of ten rupees, he took us there. The rest house was locked and we did not find any Chowkidar around there. That man told us that the Chowkidar lives in a village about half a kilometer away, but he would not go there because he was not in good terms with the Chowkidar. Then he left.
We were trembling with cold; and in our desperate situation one of us broke the glass pane of the shutter of a door which was bolted from inside. He inserted his hand in the gap so created, moved down the shutter and we entered the building. There were two charpoys (small beds) inside. We desperately needed rest and warmth, so all the eight of us clustered together on them. However, we soon realized that it was not possible to bear the cold without heating because in every exposed portion of the body our blood seemed to be clotting. So one by one all of us got up and then went out to collect some dry leaves. We put them in the fire-place and one of us, who was a smoker and had a match-box, lighted them. And then to keep the fire burning we started breaking the old furniture of the rest house and putting it in the fire-place. The furniture was enough to burn till dawn. But much before dawn we left the rest house to avoid being detected.
Today I confess that I did not disclose to the station officer that one of the unknown accused persons of that F.I.R. was the D.G. Police himself (I). After all, which D.G. Police would like to be arraigned for a mischief committed during initial training of I.P.S.?
More by : Mahesh Chandra Dewedy
|Quite interestingly presented.|
|Thanks for your encouraging comments Mr. Ramabrahamam.|
As you have enjoyed reading this memoir, I would recommend
that you go on 'Writers'- 'Mahesh Chandra Dewedy'-'Memoirs' and read some more memoirs of this type.
I am sure you would not be disappointed.
|Very well written anecdote. The narration is delighting and full of adventure and suspense. Enjoyed the write-up much. This type of "mischief" has to be and must be ignored.|