Visitors take a look at a 30mm automatic grenade launcher, while civilians enjoy a ride on an army tank (above) during the Know your Army exhibition at Morabadi grounds in Ranchi on Friday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
Firearms are a strict no-no for children. But Friday was different.
The little ones not only got to touch and feel the heavy guns, some of them even had the never-before experience of riding the tanks used by the armed forces in warfare.
The occasion was the “Know your army” exhibition that was hosted by the Cockerel Division of India Army at Morabadi grounds.
The exhibition, which kicked off around 9am, drew enthusiastic school and college students, all of who were taken in by the stalls showcasing military equipment.
Some like little Sanjay Gari were not content with just seeing the rifles and guns. They wanted to try out the weapons themselves.
“Uncle ek goli chalane di jiyega? (Uncle! Will you allow me to fire once?),” came the innocent query from four-year-old Sanjay, who had come from Hatma and took a ride on the T-72 tank that can target an enemy from a 2.5km distance.
An amused jawan of Armoured Regiment lifted the child from the ground and said with a smile:
“Pehle thik se khao aur bare ho jayo (First, you eat properly and become big).”
Om Lal, a pre-nursery student of Cheeranjivi Play School, came up with a taller wish. As he checked out the Tank Recovery Vehicle (TUV) — used to recover tanks trapped in mud or sand during war — he asked his grandfather to get one for him. “Ek tank la di jiyena (Get me a tank),” he pleaded.
Grandfather Meenu Lal, a retired mining engineer of Bharat Coking Coal Limited, consoled him with the promise of a toy tank. “These tanks are not available in the market, I will get you a toy tank,” he said.
If Sanjay and Om were a tad unhappy, the likes of Anshuman Munda, a Class II student of St Kuldeep School, was disappointed for missing most of the action as the exhibition was cut short because of bad weather.
The event, which was supposed to continue till late in the evening, wrapped up by 12.30pm.
Hence, the children, who reached after 12.30pm, left complaining.
“Hum nahi dekhe tank kaise ghoomta hai. Ek baar dikha di jiyega? (I missed the opportunity to see how a tank moves. Can you show me once?),” Anshuman urged an army man, who pleaded helplessness as he could not defy the order of his boss.
A Class III student of DAV International School, Anshu Singh, made his displeasure known to his mother.
“Pehle aate to hum bhi tank par chadhte (Had we come earlier, I would have also taken a ride on the tank),” he was heard saying.
The other highlights of the day were daredevil action by the Corps of Military Police motorcycle riders, spectacular low-level flying manoeuvres by Army Chetak Helicopter and resounding display of military bands.
The mock drills in which the personnel slithered down from helicopters with clockwork precision and carried out surgical mission to safeguard the nation’s interest in any eventuality drew applause from the crowd.
First-hand information on recruitment procedures was also available at the exhibition, which was supposed to be attended by Governor Syed Ahmed. But bad weather kept him away.