MY LIFE –TOLD UNTOLD (An introspection) (A life story of an ordinary man)

  1. It has been my earnest desire to record my memories about the incidents, customs and experiences of my life for which I arranged taped recorder, but my denture did not cooperate with me. Ultimately, I had to look towards my computer and got it set right. In a way it has proved useful to me, as now, when some new memories float during my writing I could incorporate them in between. There is every possibility that some of the vital incidents and facts might have slipped from my mind and some superfluous incidents might have crept in. There is every possibility that some error in dates, times and names might have occurred while writing the past. My life has been full of struggle and there has   been no problem which I could not solve, face or sustain. The vision of every individual is very narrow and limited. One looks and feels differently from others because of this narrow vision. I cannot be the exception to this natural phenomenon. Some part of my writing might appears to be superfluous and may not be acceptable to a few, as their interests and expectations from me, might be different. Though all the times I had tried my best (as per my own perception) to keep my behavior, thinking, sayings and writing rational and has kept in view, the feelings and reactions of others in my mind. I have been successful in my life, but there had been a few failures also where the results have been quite different to my expectations. I accept, these failures might have  happened due to my own wrong perception and handling. Sometimes, I feel handicapped to find the appropriate words to explain the exact situation and feelings. My writing may not be confined to my life only. I may be explaining the situations, customs of those days and also giving the names of the relations and pets which I still remember. (These can be ignored or can be read only for reference). The sequence of incidents and events may not be in the chronological order as I was never keeping any dairy. I had some papers and record which would have been useful in my writing but I have destroyed them, never knowing that I might be writing some times about the unknown incidents of my life. Though, a few papers, I found while I was working on this project and made use of them. Sometimes, I my self got confused which incidents and event had happened first and which after ward. The exact timings of events and the incidents may not be of much significance also. I could not type with speed and accuracy but still I was typing in a speed matching to the flow of the memories which were coming out, without caring for the construction of the sentences and words so that the flow of my memories might not be disturbed or lost. The reconstructions of the sentences, insertion of the missing words and correcting of the spelling to make it understandable would have to be done after completion of the project. My life is an open Chapter, whether it is personal, social or official. I was never worldly wise and clever. All the times I have been behaving like an ordinary man  and was discharging my duties: personal, social and official, best in the way I could, as per my of my mental level. Some of the account might be searing and may not give a comfortable reading as some may not be interested in my personal life, some may not be interested in my Social life and some in my official life and one can skip over those portions if one feels like. For my side I have thrown open my composite life to all, but to my mind the composite reading will help to understand this ordinary man. If one feels like to comment on any point, it will be welcomed with gratitude.

INDEX 

MY LIFE –TOLD UNTOLD (An introspection) (A life story of an ordinary man)

 CHAPTER- I –   Childhood.

CHAPTER-II-    Reached Palampur leaving behind my mother

CHAPTER- III- Joined Punjab National Bank at Yamunanagar.

CHAPTER –IV- It was 11th of April, 1969 I joined Patiala.    

CHAPTER – V-   JOINED  SECTOR-17 CHANDIGARH as Assistant Manager

CHAPTER- VI-  PHAGWARA- NAGPUR (ARM)

CHAPTER-VII -AHMADABAD & AMRITSAR  as Chief  Manager

CHAPTER -VIII  FEROZEPUR  as Regional Manager

CHAPTER-IX  Joined Chandigarh Zonal Office as CM

CHAPTER-X- Post Retirement.

Chapter- XI

                                               CHAPTER-I

BIRTH
                                                      Pindi station -2                                                                                               Rawalpindi Railway Station

I was born on 7th September,1931 (22nd Bhado Vikram Samvat 1987-88, Krishna Paksh, Ardra-4 Nakshatra) on Monday at 4.10 p.m. in Oberai Street, Mohalla Shah Chanchrag, Bazaar Sarafan, Rawalpindi now in Pakistan. I was the eldest child of my parents and the first male child in my grand father’s family. (My eldest bhua Janki already had two daughters, Swaran and Darshan).  I was told that my birth brought great joy and happiness in the family. It is obvious that the same do happen in  other families also). My nick name was ‘Pal’.

 

FAMILY BACK GROUND

Bhera Railway Station.                                                           Bhera Railway station

 Ancestral place was ‘Bhera’ in Sargoda District, now in Pakistan. My great- grand- father Ishar Das Sethi s/o Shanker Das Sethi was a leading petition writer of ‘Bhera’. We had an agricultural land which was leased out to my grand-father’s cousin Ram Lal Sethi who was blind but was assisted by his sister-in-law, Savitri Sethi wd/o Chaman Lal Sethi. My Great-Grand-father and Great-Grand-mother expired on the same day. I am told that my Great-Grand-mother expired in the morning and my Great-grand-father died in the afternoon. The dead bodies of the both were taken to cremation ground at the same time  and it was a talk of the town.

Our gotra is ‘Pulastya’ and caste Sethi which is one of the eight castes of ‘Khukhrains’ (Khatri), namely Anand, Suri, Sahni, Chadha, Bhasin, Kohli, Sabharwal and Chandiok.  It is said that these Kshatriya were warriors and they came together under the leadership of  khokhar Dev Anand to defend themselves from the foreign attacks. The Khukhrains (Suri, Sabharwal and Anand) were ruling in different parts of Punjab. Khokhar Pura in Jehlam District and Khokar Gharh in Gujarkhan District (now in Pakistan) were built by them. Sikander who was defeated on the Bank of Jehlam River by King Porus, was Sabharwal.  Bhadrawati (Bhera) used to be centrist capital of Khukhrains who were rulers in different parts of Punjab. Anands were the rulers of Bhera (Bhadrawati).  (As taken from Khukharain Gazette).

hookah-smoker- iii                                                          Huka (Smoking pipe)

Grand father (दादा ), Ram Das Sethi to whom we used to call ‘Bau ji,  was the second son of his parents.  He  had two brothers. Elder to him was Bhagat Ram Sethi, a retired senior bank officer (Punjab National Bank, Hind Iran Bank and one an other Bank) and younger to him was Raghbir Lal Sethi (a contractor) and both were living at Lahore in Krishna Nagar separately. My grand father after his marriage  had shifted to Rawalpindi.  He was normally tolerant and had seldom lost his tamper though it is said that he used to be obstinate in his childhood and was called “Bhandi’ (quarrelsome). He had whitish complexion. He was a little taller than my grand-mother. He always kept himself busy and would never sit idle.  He was fond of reciting an old Urdu  epics poetry of Bulle Shah. He, normally, never used to interfere in any domestic matters. He was in the habit of smoking ‘Huka’ .  Huka: two thin bamboo pipes tied with each other, one pipe is carved in the middle and the other is straight. On the straight pipe one ‘chilam’ (earthen pot with wide opening on the top and slim opening at the bottom and it could be fitted on the straight pipe). The ‘chilam’ is filled with specially prepared tobacco with molasses. The curved pipe is used for inhaling. Both these pipes are put in the special pot which is generally made of metal and it is filled with water. He used to change the water occasionally. Before smoking the ‘huka’, some burning substance like dung were put in the ‘chilim’ over the tobacco to keep the tobacco burning. Some times I was asked to bring the tobacco from ‘ Purana Quila’ a place closed to our residence.  Other wise,  he himself used to bring the tobacco of his own taste. Some times he used to blend the raw tobacco to his taste. He was very simple and humble man. He used to wear white ‘Pagri’ (head gear) of muslin, white shirt and  white salwar, all starched.  Shirt and salwar were ironed. He was like a saint.

Grand mother (दादी) to whom we used to called ‘Dai ji’ was Gur Dai d/o Hazura Mal Kohli, a millionaire of that time. She was of a short stature, very beautiful; with small hands and feet. She had very fair complexion. She was  soft spoken. She used to keep a small wooden comb and a piece of ‘dandasa’ (a tree bark used for cleaning teeth) in her side pocket. I never found her bickering with anybody. She was majestic in the real sense. She used to wear very neat and clean clothes all the time.  She had two brothers. Gobind Ram Kohli who was elder to her and had five sons: Kundan Lal Kohli, Chaman Lal Kohli (both living at Lahore separately), Krishan Lal Kohli living at Koh Murree, Moti Ram Kohli and Mohan Lal Kohli both were studying and living with him at Rawalpindi. He had no daughter. The other brother, Hari Ram Kohli, younger to her, had six sons,  Roshan Lal Kohli, Bhushan Kohli, Sohan Kohli, Banwari Lal Kohli, Sudarshan Kohli (Chillu), Bihari Lal Kohli (Ghugi) He had four daughters: Shakuntla married to Dev Raj Sethi living at Lahore, Bimla married to Panna Lal Suri living at Calcutta, Nirmal and Baby (married after the partition). My dadi had one sister, Veeran Wali who was married to Amolak Ram Sethi, a dry fruit merchant at Rawalpindi. She had two sons Amar Nath Sethi and Shadi Lal Sethi and three daughters, Leela married to Sohan Lal Chadha living at Karachi, Vidya married to Sham Lal Chadha living at Lahore and Krishna (Gudi) married to Dalip Chadha living at Rawalpindi. Veera Wali expired long before my mind  could recollect and Amolak Ram Sethi re-married to Tara. My Dadi had cordial relations with all her relatives. She had normal house hold work to do.
Father, Achraj Lal Sethi,  to whom we used to call ‘Bhapa ji‘ had three Sisters and two brothers. Janki Devi married to Mallick Chuni Lal Anand of Abbtabad (District Hazara) was the eldest. My father was at number two and was married to Karmawali (my mother) d/o Sarab Dayal Sahni at Malakwal. Younger to him was Suraj Parkash Sethi married to Sushilla d/o Dewan Chand Anand of Abbtabad. His 2nd sister Raj Rani was married to Sita Ram Anand of Gugarkhan. His youngest brother Baldev Raj Sethi was married to Sanjogta d/o Ram Lal Suri (Earlier my uncle was married to Raj who expired after a short period and this was his second marriage). The youngest sister Daya Rani  was married to Om Prakash Kochhar s/o Nand Gopal Kochhar of Rawalpindi. (Baldev Raj married after partition of India).

Mother, Karma Wali to whom we used to call ‘Bhabhi ji‘ was the eldest daughter of her parents. She had two  brothers elder to her.  The eldest, Mangal Sain Sahni,  was married to Raj Rani, sister of Kundan Lal Kohli. (Kundan Lal Kohli was son-in-law of my grand father’s elder brother Bhagat Ram Sethi) and the other,  Chanan Shah Sahni was married to Parkash Wati d/o Parma Nand Bhasin of Rawalpindi. She had two sisters younger to her, Shanti Devi  married to Janki Nath Anand at Gujaranwala and  Rampiari married to Suraj Parkash Sethi of Rawalpindi.  She had never been to any regular  school but learnt Gurmukhi (Punjabi) in a local gurdwara. She was very simple household lady.

Maternal Grand Father ( नाना ) was Sarab Dayal Sahni (settled at Malakwal). He belonged to ‘Miani’ District Sargodha but later the family shifted to Malakwal, Tehsil Phalia District Gujrat. He died much earlier and the marriages of all his children were solemnised after his death. I never saw his photograph even.

Maternal Grand Mother (नानी ) Har Dai  to whom we used to call ‘Be ji‘ was sister of Manohar Lal Kohli  (Mano) of Malakwal, one of the two big personalities of the town. (The other was Bhadur Chand Lamba and they were opponent to each other). She had four brothers and two sisters. My nani’s one brother,  mama Bhana was mentally and physically unbalanced  and was blind also.  He was unmarried, living with his brother Manohar Lal. Many a times some people used to make fun of  him and in return he used to rebuke them but people used to enjoy his rebuking also and it was in full knowledge of his relatives. Some of them, sometimes, used to join these heartless people also. His pathetic condition and behaviour of the people used to disturb me. Nani’s another brother Nank Chand Kohli was also living there. Her one more  brother ( I don’t remember his name) had already expired and he had three sons: Shiv Ram Kohli, Siri Ram Kohli and Daulat Ram Kohli. The former was doing cattle feed business and the other two had  General Merchant shops.  Siri Ram Kohli was assisted by his son Basant Kohli.  Nani’s one sister,  Shivan was also mentally not balanced and was living with his brother Mano.  Her other sister,  Parvati  had four sons: Ram Lal Sabharwal, Sri Ram Sabharwal, Krishan Lal Sabharwal and Nand Lal Sabharwal. All were living at Malakwal and were unmarried.

My nani had a fair complexion. Though she was not harsh but her ascent was not so pleasing, may it  be, because of her village culture. Otherwise she was nice, sympathetic, caring and laborious. She used to wear a tamba’ (a piece of cotton cloth used as single dhoti) in place of ‘salwar’ at home. She was living at Malakwal with her sons, Mangal Sain Sahni and Chanan Shah Sahni and unmarried daughter Ram Piari.

chatti & Madhabi                                                            Chatti and Madhani

My nani’s main work was managing of the milk. She used to put the milk in the earthen pot (called Kuni) in the morning and put it in the small window hearth in the wall covered with a door of wooden flats so that the air and the smoke could pass through and the milk could be saved from the cats. She used to put this milk pot for boiling on the simmering heat of the dungs in the morning for the whole day. The thick ‘malai’ used to cover the milk which used to become yellowish by the evening. She would never allow anyone to take this milk. She would curd this milk at night and early in the morning when everybody was asleep she used to churn this curd with long heavy wooden beater (madhani) tied with cotton  rope on a wooden stand in a clay pot called  ‘matki ’ with her  both hands till the butter began to float on the ‘chach’.  She would take out the butter from it and put it in a separate a pot and ‘chach’ (curd milk without butter) in a separate pot. The ‘chach’ was served during the day, the butter was mainly used for the chapattis but the fresh butter with ‘basi-roti’ of preceding night and ‘chach’ were served in the morning which used to be the breakfast. The unused butter was converted into Ghee by heating it and this ghee was used for cooking purposes. My nani’s work was almost over by then but some times she used to make chapattis during the day otherwise this job was done my mamis (aunts). My mami Raj Rani and Parkash Wanti were supposed to do all other domestic work except managing of milk. My massi Rampiari used to assist them. The morning cleaning of brick floor, which used to give a special glare, though it was a time consuming process, was done either by Mami Raj Rani or massi. The utensils were cleaned with dry dung ash (Suhaga), which used to give a special shinning.

They had the special technique of cleaning the floor. Instead of washing the floor straight away with the water, they would take the bucket full of water and wash the floor with the heavily drenched ‘pujhna’ (a course cloth for cleaning the floors) so that the dirt and dust was dissolved with the water on the floor. In the second round they would again take the bucket filled with fresh water and now they would clean the floor with squeezed ‘pujhna’.  Now every time after they wiped the floor they would wash the ‘pujhna’ in the clean water bucket and squeezed it. This was repeated for the whole of the floor.

There was no system of evening tea. In evening we used to take Roti from Lunch which was specially kept for the evening Supper with Pickles or sometimes we used to take grams or maize to bhatti for dry frying in sand by the ‘Meharis‘ who used to have Bhattis at number of places. They used to take portion of maize or grams as their service charges instead of cash. Meheras’ are one of the service castes in Hindus. Their Men folk normally ran the ‘Dhabas’ (Hotels) and/or used to bring water for the house hold especially in the towns. The Meheras used to help the ‘Halwais’ on marriages and other functions also. They were called ‘Bharbhunja’ also. Their women folk used to clean the utensils with dry ash in houses as domestic helpers. The wood and dung was the main mediums of cooking. The ‘Bhatis’, were managed by their ladies folk who were called ‘Meharis’. ‘Bhatis’ were dug in the ground near some crossings of streets.  It had two openings. One was on the right side which was used for fuelling the ‘bhati’ and the other is on the front. On the front opening Iron utensil known as ‘karahi’ was put on the top. In ‘karahi’ the sand was put and it was heated to the required temperature and then the grains either gram or maize were put and stirred with the sickle and when these are fully roasted, these are taken out with the help of the iron ‘chhanni’ (A iron utensil with holes to filter the sand so that the grains remain in the ‘chhanni’. The sand is filtered in the ‘bhatti’ utensil which was reused  again and the roasted grain are taken out to be given to the customers. 

Eldest mama, Mangal Sain used to take care of the cattle(s). He would make the feed for the cattle(s) and feed them and milk the buffalo(s) both the times. He used to give them water and  bath. Some times he used to purchase the standing crops in the field and would cut the crop from the field daily and chop it with the chopper with his own hands. In the morning collecting of dung was done, mainly, by mami Raj Rani. She would put them on the top floor for drying and would collect the dried dung (Thapi) for burning in the hearth. Most of the mama’s time was consumed for taking care of the cattle(s) and other work pertaining to it. The entire house holds purchases and other miscellaneous jobs were done by him. He would take a gunny bag full of wheat (100 Kg) on his back and get it grinned from the flour mill and would take it back on his back again. His language was not so polished but otherwise he was very laborious and honest. He also used to wear ‘tamba’ instead of ‘salwar’. He had one son,  Dharam Pal  who was younger to me by three years.

Younger mama, Chanan Shah Sahni used to sit on the General Merchant shop in the main Bazaar. He was perfect businessman and was very conservative in spending. He was very calculative. He would purchase broken railway tickets when he used to go for purchases form Lahore or Lala Musa (mainly Lala Musa) if that could save one or two ‘aana’ (six /twelve paisa) in this process. He would not spend any thing on self.

I had four brothers and four sisters. I am the eldest child of the family. 2nd is my sister, Kamla  was married to Ram Parkash Anand s/o Gurdas Mal Anand of Delhi (formerly of Rawalpindi) the 3rd was my brother Inderpal Sethi married to Sudesh d/o Harbans lal Malhotra of Badaion, the 4th is Nirmal Kanta married to Yashpal Chadha s/o Sita Ram Chadha of Gwalior. The 5th was Ashok kumar Sethi who was married to Sharda Rani d/o Som Nath Kapur in relation of Sudesh w/o my brother Inder Pal Sethi. The 6th is Vijay Kumar Sethi who is married to Vijay d/o Inder Sain Kohli of Delhi. The 7th is Vinod Kumar Sethi married to Indu d/o Gobind Ram Sachdeva of Delhi. The 8th is Urmal who was married to Onkar Nath Bhasin s/o Ram Nath Bhasin of Gwalior. The 9th is Promilla married to Satish Chopra s/o Shiv Nath Chopra. Vinod, Urmil and Promilla were born at Chatta District Mathura after partition. (In all we were five brothers and four sisters).

Mundan                                                      Mundan (first hair cut)

MUNDAN: (first hair cut) I am told that my ‘mundan’ was celebrated with great pomp and show at the age of 3 plus. A day before the Mundan’s ‘dokaja’ was celebrated.  ‘Dokaja’ was a custom in which the mother of the child leaves the house pretending to be annoyed from her in-laws and goes to her parents. Then all the members of the husband’s family along with their relatives would go to her parents’ house (locally arranged) to bring her back. Here all the relatives are entertained and given suitable ‘shagans’ and she is brought back with Band Baja. Later the  ‘mundan’  ceremony follows. This custom was celebrated even before my ‘mundan’ in Sethi families. Suitable gifts and shagans were given and taken to from the relatives. (As told when I could understand). I have some memories in my mind about my mundan’s ceremony in Ghama’s house but I have no idea about my behavior when my hairs were cut. After the Mundan Janju (Janeu-Sacred thread) is performed and white Pyjama and Kurti with White Turban was wore. I vividly remember the location where my mundan’s were performed. Four days after Mundan there was ceremony of Bodi (Choti) cut. I used to be wear Bodi (Choti) till Partition. 

IMG_0003                                                                Ghama’s house

In those days there were a few Telephone connections in the city. We were living near Moti Bazaar and my father was at Murree. Some times we used to get a message at night from a Chemist shop (probably owners’s name was Kartar Singh Kohli) which must be 400 or 500 yards from our house that we should come to his shop as telephone was to come from Murree from my father. We used to rush there including my Bhua Daya and chaha Baldev  (who others were, I cannot recall), I must be  of around 4 years. On receiving the call every one  used to talk to my father on phone but I used to hear his voice in the telephone not understanding how my father’s voice was coming in that black instrument. As I can recall I had never spoken to him on the phone despite every body’s persuasion as I could not understand how to speak but I only used to listen. After every body had talked, we used to return home to narrate the conversation we had, to my grand-parents and my mother who used to wait for us eagerly at home.  Subsequently, we joined our father at Murree.

Old telephone (black)                                                 Phone without dialing system

Now I was of School of  going age and my parents wanted to send me to School but I was reluctant to go to School and was frightened at the very name of the School and used to start crying whenever my father used to tell me that I had to go the School. To shed my fear, one day, my father took me to Mangal Sain who was Head Master of the Govt. Primary School and was residing above the cloth shop just across the road. The Head Master patted me and told me that I should not worry,  he would take me to his School. Next morning he took me to the School and till prayer I was sitting in his room. When the prayer was over and the children had gone to the classes the Head Master called one man and told him to take me to my class.  I started weeping as I had the impression that I would sit with him in his room only. I cannot recall how he made me to agree to sit in my class as I was not so simple to yield. After that I became regular to  School going.

Murree School III                                           Government Primary School, Murree.

The  school buildings was single story with five rooms in a row with veranda on the both sides. There was a High School just a few yards ahead. There was one ‘Chabari wala’ (vendor) named Bansi Wala who used to sell orange and green coloured ‘Golian’ (candy) locally made from sugar with some flavor, Sweet—Imli, Patti etc. One paisa was sufficient to purchase the required items. Some times I used to purchase one of the items with half paisa (dhela) and take ‘dhela’ back.  Once, I purchased some thing and found that I had no money to pay. I promised to pay him the following day but I did not go to school on the following day and there after there were a few holidays. On the very 1st day of opening of the School I went to the hawker and gave the small money I owed him but he was reluctant to accept the money and told me that he did not remember if I owed him anything but I insisted him to take the money as I owed him. It must be one or two paisa. After my great insistence he accepted the money and I got  great satisfaction.

Murree Mall Road.                                                       Mall Road Koh-Murree

Murree is a very beautiful hill station of Pakistan. Its full name is Koh Murree. ‘Koh’ is an Urdu word which means hill. It was cantonment for a British battalion. There were two main bazaars.  Besides Mall Road which was mainly for the Britishers, the other was known as Lower Bazaar. The Lower bazaar was the main market for the Indians where all big and small  shops were located and everything of need was available. Our shop, where my father was, a very big hardware and paints shop and we were living above the shop. From the front it looked double storey building and from the back lane it was five storey building. Each storey had independent entry from the side steps (stairs) which must be about 20 feet wide but each storey had interconnected fold-able wooden ladder in the back veranda which were covered with the wooden planks and it could be lifted from its side and one could descend to the lower storey by lifting the Plank and could go down to the lower storey  up-to  the lower back road.

At The Mall. There were big show rooms mainly for the Britishers. It was very neat and clean. There were many hotels, restaurants and ball rooms mostly on the first flour for the English people. The  Indians were not allowed. There were two cinema halls. After nine, at night, there were two shows when English pictures were shown for the white people. There was a GPO with wide neat and clean stairs. In the evening there used to be a great crowd around the GPO and the people would sit on the stairs to relax and to watch and enjoy the view of the crowd on the Mall. Some times I used to peep into the ball room secretly. Behind the GPO there was a road leading to the Kashmir Point, a picnic spot.  There was a small resting place under the groves. Once as a kid we celebrated ‘Dushera’ and burnt the effigy of Ravana at the point. which was made by a few kids like me with bamboo and kite paper but I don’t remember who my friends at Murree were, as I neither used to play in the bazaar nor used to go to any body’s house.

Kasmiri Chapal- Mari   
                                               Kashmiri foot wear and Mall Road

This mall road which stretched to about 2-3 k m was connected with the lower bazaar from two points. One link was near the GPO and the other at the end of the shopping complex from where there was the way to Bus Stand also. No vehicle was allowed beyond the bus stand which was at the entry point of the town. ‘Hatos’, the Kashmiri labours were available at the Bus Stand who used to carry the luggage but one had to walk on foot all the way to one’s house. (Hatto used to wear a  special footwear  of hand knitted rope of the twisted fiber of tree bark). After this point at the Mall, there were a few hotels for the English and there after there was a clear road towards the Mall which  led  to the picnic spot known as Pindi Point. There were Defence and other offices on the left side of the mall and on the right side there were big bungalows of the Britishers. Here too at the end of the Road there was Sub-Post Office with wide stairs and people after a walk used to sit here to relax. Beyond the Post Office there was a hillock surrounded by a circular road with parameter of about two three miles and some people used to walk around this hillock and some would enjoy the pony ride around it which was available on hire but mostly people used to rest at the steps of the Post Office.  A little ahead of the road from where we take the right turn,  this was actual pindi point. At night we could see the twinkling lights of Rawalpindi.   I never saw  any white man loitering on the mall.

It was a hill station. Once I suffered from jaundice and I was taken to Hakim who gave me medicines in powder form to be taken with syrup (Makow ka Sharbat) to be dissolved in the water and I had to take ‘kanichawal as diet. ‘Kani’ chawal  has some medicinal values. It is not any variety of the rice we use at our homes.  I did not see any Doctor’s shop here. I had seen cremation ground which was down the hill at this age. There used to be many bugs in our cots. At night they would bite us at the bed and suck our blood and it was difficult to sleep some times. Number of times in the morning we used to shook our cots on the floor. If any bug dropped, we used to kill it with our shoes. I was around five years of age.

SOME MISCHIEF S AT MURREE.

I was very ignorant about the electric fittings and its working. Once, I was sitting in the latrine and found that there was no bulb in the holder. Immediately after getting free from the latrine I searched for the torch and took out the bulb from the torch and tried to fit this small bulb in the Electric Holder while the switch of the light was on. As soon as I pushed the bulb in side the holder I received a very severe electric shock. Incidentally I was standing on the pot which had the wooden platform and  it absorbed the shock and was saved. I could never muster the courage to tell about this foolish action to my parents.

It was forenoon and day was Sunday. I was just roaming all alone on the Mall towards the Pindi Point. I saw a tree laden with peaches. The top of the tree was just touching the railings of the Mall as the ground of the house was at the lower level as it usually happens in the hills. I plucked one peach from the tree. As  soon as I plucked the peach a young English girl jumped towards the railings and shouted at me in English, which I could not understand but what I could make out was that she was very much furious and must be abusing me and the Indians for my wrong action. I was so frightened that I immediately threw the peach there and ran with full force towards my house which was about one mile. I was breathless, fearing that some one might be chasing me till I reach the lower Bazaar.

BACK TO RAWALPINDI-  AGE AROUND FIVE.

When we shifted to Rawalpindi I am not sure. I must be around 5 years. I was sent to DAV Primary School, Moti Bazaar for a few days in 1st Class. My class room was in the left corner of the first floor. We were living near Moti Bazaar at that time. Later I joined Mission School, near Rose Cinema. The 2nd World War started those days and a huge hoarding with coloured map was displayed near Rose Cinema at a conspicuous place near my School, depicting the movement of the allies’ forces to show their heroic movement. The changes were made frequently on the hoarding. Many a times, I used to visit the site  in the recess without understanding its significance. However, our elders used to talk about the movement of British vis a vis Japanese’s army in close door and  some times my father used  to listen to the news from  ‘Radio Japan’  at some ones house secretly at night as it was considered that All India Radio was giving exaggerated news.

Murga as punishement.                                                           Murga in class room

In the school there was a deep square water tank with two steps on each side in the School Campus where we used to enjoy the floating our ‘Thakthies’ (wooden writing plank). Some times we used to enjoy waving them for drying with rhyme ‘Suk ja meri thakti suk ja’ and this rhyme was repeated  till the ‘tahakti’ dried.  A Muslim teacher Noor Mohammad in-charge of our class was very tall and must be above 6 feet in height.  He used to punish the students who indulged in pranks and would pick them up  from  both their ears and would take them to his height and throw them on the bricks-floor abruptly.  I was frightened of this  horrible scene. The other horrible punishment was asking the students to become ‘Murga’ (Cock) in the sun by putting the arms in between the legs and then to touch the ears and  to keep the buttocks upward. Though not experienced, the scene itself was terrifying. I had seen many a times when the buttocks the student get lowered there was a strong kick from the teacher’s pointed leather shoe toe. This was very painful and perspiring experience. Rarely but there had been occasions when my palm experienced wooden roller/ cane stick and some time twisting of the ears but my face never received any slap nor my bucket experienced the lashes of flexible cane stick which used to leave the mark on the body and the legs. There had been one or two occasions when I had to stand on the bench for not responding  to the correct answer and had to stay in sun for coming late to school. Fortunately I saw more then experiencing the different modes of horrible corporal punishments which were very common in those days.  Once, each student got one ‘ladu’  on the birthday of Queen Victoria, the then Queen of England as India was being ruled by the Britishers . Before the final exams I left the  school. This was my third School.

The promotion from one class to other was a heroic achievement  those days. The day, when the result was to be declared the confident students used to take garland of flowers for the teacher. The students used to sit in the classroom breathlessly till the class teacher would come  with a sealed envelop to open it to declare the name of failed students. Passing from one class to other was followed by distribution of ‘ladoos’ or ‘patase’ (Sugar-bobbles) in own Mohalla (street). As memories goes there were no such distribution in my case but at the same time I never failed . There used to be ‘Kachi ’, ‘Paki ’ and ‘Pehli‘ Class. What we call today Nursery, K.G. and then 1st class. I did not remember whether I also had gone through this process. When the student used to get the entry in the School ‘patase’ were distributed by the parents in the class. The medium of instruction was Urdu in Persian script for the boys and Hindi in Devanagari Script for girls and they used to be separate school  for each.

My father purchased a small imported second hand bicycle for me. During those days when the Englishmen used to go back to England they used to sell their domestic goods through  a local auctioneer and this bicycle along with some other useful items like woolen carpet, a set of drawers with door size looking glass were purchased by my father. I was very happy to get this imported cycle but I did not know cycling. I started learning cycling of my own in my own street. I did not know how to apply the brakes. Whenever I used to see some one coming from the opposite direction I used to start tinkling the cycle bell in panic from a long distance. Once, there was a washer man’s donkey standing on the roadside near our house. I was paddling my cycle towards it and was ringing the bell without understanding that it would not have any impact on  the donkey. I put my cycle in donkeys fore legs. It was a different thing that I was saved with a few bruises. It may be due to my luck or due to swift help of the passerby or gentleness of the donkey. I was given home treatment but I cannot forget my foolishness.

My younger maternal uncle Chanan Shah (who was living at Malakwal) was engaged at Gawalmandi across the Lai (rivulet) near Railway bridge and I used to go with my mother and grand mother there,  occasionally, to enjoy ’gurguley’ ‘samosa’ and ‘Piste wala milk’. I was so innocent that I never thought of meeting the aunt (mami) who was going to marry my uncle. I only used to think that we had gone there to enjoy the milk and sweets etc. I might have seen aunt at her residence but I cannot recall her presence. However, I used to play with her younger sisters of about my age.

My youngest uncle Baldevraj had an agency of Bata Shoe Co, in Moti Bazaar. One day he went some where, leaving me at the shop. In his absence one customer purchased a pair of shoes. He insisted for some rebate. I allowed it knowing fully well that it was the Co’s shop and the rates were fixed and the Co. did not allow selling its product under the fixed rates. When my uncle came I told him happily that I had sold a pair of shoes but charged less. He was not happy over my action though he did not  rebuke me.

I cannot recall if ever, I got thrashing from my elders. This is not that I was  very simple or gentle lad also but I think my elders had an excellent patience and counselling skill. During those days it was  an accepted custom, neither to face nor confront the elders nor to argue with them to justify any wrong action. Our elders were  also always right and wise also, not because of fear or custom only but, I feel, the children also were not so intelligent  due to lack of exposure.

Earlier my grandfather was having a grocery and a laundry shops in Sewa Ram Gali. My father used to take care of the laundry shop which was just opposite to the grocery shop. I some times used to go to shop as it was close to our house where my ‘mundans’ were performed. Once, someone bought some goods from our grocery shop and he might have taken on credit. Next day, I went to his house and asked for the money. I was too small to understand the implications of business transactions but I still went to him without telling my grandfather, which I should not have done. The customer might have told all this to my grandfather. My grandfather questioned me why I had gone there. He might have been annoyed over my action.

Those were ‘holi’ days and my father and grandfather rushed from the shop and went some where in the fore noon after changing their clothes. I could not understand where they were going in hurry. Later, I came to know that Sita Ram Anand, husband of my second Bhua Rani had expired at Lahore due to Sun Stroke. He was very young and very handsome as I was told as I cannot recall his face or coming to our house. I only remember the violet color silken coat with watch embroidered with ‘silma sitare’ as given to me by them. I cannot recall their marriage even. Krishan their son was born about 8 months after his death. My uncle was serving in Railway at Lahore at the time of his death. I cannot recall if it had any sudden effect on me except that I understood I was not to play ‘holi’. Even otherwise I remember that I never used to play in the street. What I used to do at home I cannot recollect. My Chacha Baldev Raj, Bhua Daya  and sister Kamla were there but I cannot recall their presence in that house. However, I can recollect that I used to remain with my father who was very fond of keeping birds. We were living on the 1st floor; he made a very big shed of iron net. (Must be measuring about 40X60 feet and about 10 feet high) in front of our living rooms and used to keep number of pigeons in this shed. He used to fee a few of them in the morning and would allow them to fly in the sky and the birds would come back when they were called. Some times these pigeons used to bring some more pigeons along with them. He was very fond of keeping coloured parrots and sparrows. He specially got made the cages for them. He was also very fond of changing the setting of the house. Some times he would set the bedding and other furniture in one way and after a few days he would again change their direction other way. If anybody pointed out that it did not look good he used to tell, he would change it again. After all the settings clean the dirt.

One mid-night, suddenly when I woke up and saw my grandmother  holding a baby in her lap. She exclaimed! ‘Chhota Krishan has come See!’ I saw it and went to sleep.  I don’t think I was excited on seeing the new arrival as one should be on seeing a small baby. My younger brother Inder was born that night. I was five and a half year  that time.

Malakwal Junction for Sargodha, Mari Indus and Bhera.

Malakwal Junction for Sargodha, Mari Indus and Bhera.

 MALAKWAL

Malakwal is village in Gujarat District. Tehsil  Phalia (now in Pakistan). It is a railway junction on Lalamusa- Sargoda railway line. My Nani was living there with her two sons, Mangal Sain and Chanan Shah and unmarried daughter, Rampiari .  The town had parallel two wide kacha roads about 100 feet wide. One road was commercial and the other was residential. The front of the commercial road was for shops whereas its back was residential which was a part of the residential road. There was no electricity. Kerosene oil was used for lightening the lamps. There were street poles at regular intervals. In the evening a man used to come with a basket of kerosene lamps and light one by one and put them in the poles and likewise he would come in the morning to collect these lamps from the poles.

300px-Main-Bazar_-_MalakwalMalakwal Bazaar (now metaled)

I don’t remember when & why I was sent to Malakwal for studies at my nani’s house. I only remember that I was studying there in Govt. Primary School. As far as I can recall I never resisted for going away from my parents or wept for going back to my parents. I was quite normal in my school going. I never missed the school. I must be in 1st as I said earlier I never appeared in any exam before. Earlier might be kachi (nursery) and paki (K.G.).

There used to be no satchels. I used to carry basta (a piece of un-stitched square cloth) in which  books, slate, ‘saleti’, ‘kalams’ along with a small earthen ink-pot were placed  and the corners of the cloth were tied with knot diagonally at the top. The earthen ink-pot contained semi round shining,chips of black ink with water to dissolve them and a small piece of cotton cloth which could absorb the watery-ink. ‘Kalam’ was the writing instrument of thick strong straw and its point was cut diagonally with the sharp knife.  This job was done by my younger mama  and I was expected to write on the wooden’‘thakhti’ beautifully. Whenever its edge used to become blunt, it was again ripped. Gradually, I also learnt the art of ripping and cutting the kalam.  We had to put a few drops of water occasionally in the ink pot so that the ink-cloth remain wet. After writing a few words we had to ink the ‘kalam’ by dipping it in the ink-pot.

We did not have the exercise books or paper in lower classes. For writing, the wooden plank (thakhti) was only medium and the other was slate (bonded thin black rectangular stone) and ‘sleti’ (made from very soft stone)  used for writing digits or arithmetic sums. In the beginning, the  alphabets of Urdu were traced with pencil on ‘thakti’ (Purne Dalna) and I was required to write on it with  ‘kalam’ and black ink.  I used to write one ‘thakti’ in the School and other at home. This wooden plank, ‘thakti’ were washable. Every time after writing we used to wash it and apply the off white clay (known as ‘gachi’) on it and dry it by waiving it in the air and enjoyed it’s drying and if we have the time we would put it in the sun and keep it there for drying. In the morning we had to take it clean but ruled with pencil to the School. My maternal uncle had very good hand writing and he helped me in improving my hand writing.

After returning from the School I was supposed to reach the shop with my school ‘basta’ (after taking my lunch). I had to write one ‘thakti’ at the shop and do my home work under mama’s supervision. He used to teach me at the shop. There used to be no table or chair for studies. For studies we had to sit on the floor in summer and on the cart in winter. In the school we used to sit on two feet jute tat . Four or five lengths of tats were spread in the class room and each student was to sit in the row. In the evening I was allowed to come home and to take supper (Pachai): ‘Roti’ (bread) and ‘achaar’ (mango-pickle). There was no custom of morning and evening tea. Some times we used to take maize or grams to a ‘bhati’ for getting them roasted. For this service the ‘meheri’ (maid service hand)  didn’t charge money but she used to take a portion of the grain as her labour which was known as ‘bhada’. This was our daily routine at the supper. Tea was never served. Whenever some one was not feeling well special tea with ‘sonf’ and ‘moti ilachi’  was given. Biscuits, Bread, Rusk and ‘Namkeen’ were never brought. ‘Samose’, ‘Gurgaly’, ‘Pakoras’ were special favours in one or two months. Samose of moong ki dal were specialty of ‘Dora’ Halwai. Milk and chhach were the routine and were given regularly.

I don’t remember if I had any friend to play in the street Some times I used to see the boys playing ‘Guli Danda’, ‘Banta’ and ‘Shtapu’. I was confined to my self. At night when my uncle used to come from the shop I was supposed to be at the studies. If for any reason I had gone to bed before he came he would make me  get up and would ask me to be on studies.  If any one tried to shelter me by telling: I was not well or feeling sleepy, he would not listen to any one and I had to get up and study. He would also sit with me. He used to call me ‘Khoti’ (donkey) out of love. I had one cousin Dharam Pal son of my eldest maternal uncle I don’t recall if ever we played together or quarreled. He was younger to me by about 3 years.

My younger sister Kamla was born at Malakwal but I cannot recall her birth as I was less than four years at that time. Only I remember when she had chicken pox, which was very severe. I remember the marriage of my younger maternal uncle Channan Shah  very well. The baraat went to Rawalpindi from Malakwal. The baraat returned with mami after the marriage at night but she was brought home in ‘Doli’ in the morning under ‘taaron ki Chhaw’ (before the stars disappeared) and she was kept at some religious place. Doli was a small tent type sitting cart and it was made with bamboos and covered with red cloth. It is tied with two strong long bamboos and shouldered by four persons (Mehraz). I got the privilege to sit with mami in the ‘doli’ when it was brought home.

I also remember the marriage of my Massi Rampiari. The baraat came from Rawalpindi and stayed there for three nights. I used to accompany the persons who used to go to the cotton mill where the baraat was staying to serve them special hot milk at night in metal glasses. In those days all the preparations were made in ‘Desi Ghee’ to be served to the ‘baraties’.  In marriages ‘puris; were served with vegetables and other special dishes and ‘halwa’ was the essential sweet dish. All these were supposed to be made in ‘Desi Ghee’. But I remember my mama Mangal Sain brought some vegetable oil (Dalda) tins from a wholesale shop which was not far of from our house in the street. He removed the stickers from the tins at the shop and brought them one by one wrapped in a gunny bag so that no body could see them. I don’t know if this was used in ‘mathai’ only (sweet of ‘maida’ soaked in ‘gur’ and sugar and big ‘mathis’) which were made in bulk only.  The baraati’s were serviced on floors where bed sheets were spread on which the ‘baraatis’ used to sit for lunch or dinner. The Halwa was the first item to be served. Sweets were also given with the lunch or dinner in addition. Tea was never served, only milk was served.

Some times our examinations were taken in our High School.  Some of our exams used to be oral, reading of the books or some oral questions and numerical on slate and writing of dictation was also done on the ‘thaktis’. Papers were never used even in the examination. Our school functions were held in High School. Once there was function for raising funds for the Second World War. A special joint function was arranged in the high school. Their donations were being announced on the mike and individuals were encouraged to get up and to give the maximum offer for the funds and they were introduced to the gathering.

Once there was a joint cultural programme in High school.  My uncle got me to learn one English poem which was like this: “Water water died of sona, person how he splita, if I knew he wanted water. Give him full fill cupa” with its Urdu version. “Ab ab kar moun bachia faarsia ghar gale. Je mai janndi bauchha  pani mangda  bhar bhar dendi piale”. the was a great applaud. But later at Rawalpindi in a function (Bazme Adab) at DAV School I got thrashing for reciting the same poem.

There was no uniform for the school. We used to wear long shirt and ‘Salwar’ in the School and also at home. At home it was not essential  to use under garments, the long shirt was sufficient. Handkerchief was neither given to us nor was it used. For wiping the mouth or the nose the front portion of the shirt was used and for cleaning the nose the cuff or the shoulder portion of the shirt was used. My cuff and the shoulder of the shirt used to be very dirty. When the shirt was washed I used to get harshness from the washers. When I came aware I used to avoid using these portions of my shirt but could not avoid it completely as was no other substitute was available.

Freedom struggle was at its peak. I was at Malakwal.  Once there was a long strike. All the shops were closed indefinitely. After some days, public had to face great hardships due to scarcity of the goods of need. The shopkeeper’s association allowed the shop keeper to give goods for the marriages only which were taking place that time only but did not permit to open the doors for other customers. The strike was spontaneous. There was Second World War period also.

Some times my uncle had to go somewhere for a short period and he would leave me in the shop to look after it. If any customer  used to come in his absence I would locate the article which the customer wanted and if he selected it and asked for the price, I would rush across the road where Uncle’s maternal cousin Daulat Ram Kohli was having the similar shop and would enquire the price of that article from him, and he used to guide me and I would tell the customer accordingly. Normally customer would take the article and would pay the price asked for. I used to give this money to my mama on his return and tell him about the goods sold and the help taken from Mama Daulat Ram Kohli.

While I was studying here, there was marriage of Bhushan Kohli s/o my father’s maternal uncle Hari Ram Kohli. The baraat was to go Bhera via Malakwal from Rawalpindi. It was a big show. There were four railway bogies booked for the baraat. One big bogie was for a very big team of Band Baja and the helpers, the other small was for the Lady Singers and ladies attendants and two big bogies were for the ‘baraaties’. The baraat was entertained at Malakwal Railway Station with refreshments. These bogies were detached from the train coming from Rawalpindi and were attached with the train which was to start from here for Bhera. At Bhera the baraat stayed opposite to the reins of old palace. The arrangement at the palace of the stay was very good. The singing arrangement was also made here which was joined by the local lady singers also. The most popular song was “Suye way chure walia mai khaini ha kar chatri the chha main chhaway behani ha.” At the place of reception the arrangement was complete and every thing was made available to the requirement of the baraaties. Some baraaties were mischievous, they started demanding a particular item again and again so that the host may have cut a sorry figure, but the hosts were fully prepared and determined and some how they managed every thing. If there was any delay in arranging  any item, these baraaties would  hoot them but their demands were met.

SOME MISCHIEF’S:

I was not  simple and innocent. Without telling any body, number of times I used to go to Railway Station, which was a junction station, in the afternoon. There used to be shunting of the bogies and engine would take one bogie from one track to another to attach it with other bogie in order to make complete train. I used to board one of these bogies and enjoy its shunting. When the engine  used to slow down for connecting the other bogies I used to get down and walk to my house. But once the engine with the bogies suddenly picked the speed. I thought it was going to other station. I got panicked and jumped from the speeding train. I had bruised on my leg and arms and it was difficult for me to walk but thank God I was saved of major disaster which would have put my nani and mamas in a bad spot.

It was summer, in the noon when I went to Railway Station with out telling . Out side the Railway station there were ‘shatoot’ trees. I used to climb up the trees and pluck the sweet ‘shatoots’ and enjoy its eating . But once I fell down from the tree and the pain was very acute but it was not a fracture. I used to go alone in these ventures as told I had no companion. Once I was crossing a very dirty big drain line (nalla) at the out skirt of the town. There was no bridge on it. A big log of tree was laying over it, which was used for crossing the ‘nalla’. While crossing over the drain I lost my one new shoe. I had to face my uncle’s annoyance. As I had only one pair of shoes a new pair of shoes had to be purchased on that very day. Once I lost my math book. My uncle did not purchase the new book but instead he took the math book from some other boy and wrote whole of the book with his own hand. I must be in 4th or 5th. It was not a small book of few pages.

My masi Ram Piari was the youngest sister of my mother. My mother was the eldest of all the three sisters. Though every one looked after me so well that I never thought of my parents, yet my masi was the main that who was most bothered by me. She had to do all odd things for me. I was very irritating to her on number of occasions.  Many times I had to go for latrine late at mid night and it was she who had to wake up at midnight and take me to the top floor because the latrine was on the top floor. There was no electricity and she had to light the kerosene lamp and take me to the top floor. Some times the pressure was so worst that it was discharged on the way in the stairs. It was she who had to clean all this mess from the stairs and she used to rebuke me by saying ‘Siri Suta, Mar Gaia’ but I was helpless and used to become dumb and used to bear all her rebukes. How torturous job it was for her. She was a very great lady.  (Siri suta: When the dead body of the child was taken for cremation, in those days, on Bamboo ladder (Siri). Before her marriage, I left Malakwal for Rawalpindi as I had completed my studies up to 5th class and was supposed to continue my further schooling at Rawalpindi. Incidentally her in-laws were living just at a stone throw in our mohalla, Shah Chancharag.

PERMANENTLY BACK TO MY HOME RAWALPINDI

When I was brought to Rawalpindi, I found my parents had a separate kitchen. My parents  were living on the second floor whereas my Grandparents along with my both bhuas,, chacha and cousin were living on the 1st floor. I was neither intelligent nor daring. My father had already decided the school where I was to join. I did not know the difference between the College and the School. At night before I was to join my new School I was sent to fetch milk from the Mathra’s Shop which was very famous in that area for special hot milk with thick malai.  Some body must have accompanied me, firstly because I did not know the location, secondly I was very coward to go alone at night. Some body at the shop asked me whether I would be studying at Rawalpindi now. I said affirmatively. Then he asked me. which school I was going to join. I said DAV College. They heartily laughed. Then some one from them told  that it might be DAV School which I was to join. Then I corrected my self.

The following day, I was got admitted to DAV School and all the books and exercise books of 6th class were purchased. English Alphabets were also to be taught from the 6th class. Along with other books, four- line exercise book and drawing board with papers scales was also purchased as I took Drawing as one of the subjects. Hari Mal Vohra was The Principal of the schoolHe had a long nose. He often, used to pull his nose with thumb and his side finger.  The 2nd master was Mr. Sethi who was very tough and disciplinarian and was bulky. In his back students used to call him tout, the meaning of which I did not know. I took that he was called like because he was next to the Principal. Mine was the non-science section. My subjects were English, Urdu, Mathematics, History- Geography and Drawing. There was no School bag. We used to take all the books and exercise books in a square piece of cloth (Basta) but now the blue ink-pot in a glass bottle replaced the earthen ink-pot of black ink. There was Change in the writing instruments also. Instead of ‘kalam’ I was to use holder which could fit the nibs- G nib for English, Z nib for Urdu and Waverly nib for all other works. There was no uniform of the school and I used to wear long shirt and salwar. The medium of instruction was Urdu in Persian script.

There was a no hard and fast rule for sitting. I got my seat in the middle of the row. Only brilliant students used to sit in the front rows. As I said, earlier, I was not an intelligent student. I was like a square peg in a round hole. I could not get the required confidence in the School but was pulling on some how. Once in week there used to be ‘Veda Path’ period. Either I used to miss or remained mentally absent. I could never learn a single ‘shalok’. On the whole I was not good at studies. My parents could not help me, as my mother had her basic teaching at Gurdwara in Gurmukhi at Malakwal and my father used to tell his qualification as PPMF which means Primary Pass, Middle fail. My grand father also knew Urdu only. My Youngest Bhua Daya, who was seven years elder to me, had just passed her 10th Class from Arya School, Tranka wala Bazaar and she was the first to pass 10th in our family. There was no one to motivate me and give me a boost. I don’t know how I was doing my home work every day as I recall I used to remain mentally absent in the class. I am aware, during the summer vacations, I could never finish my home work.  I never used to roam in the streets even. However, in the last week I used to do some home work hurriedly . I was afraid of going to school after vacations fearing that the teacher might ask for the exercise books of the summer vacation. But when some days had passed and the teacher never asked for the exercise books, I used to get a sigh of  relief.

I had a little interest in one subject and that was drawing. I cannot say I was very good in drawing also. I never attended the class without fear. I always had a fear psychosis . I tried to hide my head behind some one in such a way that I might not be visible to the teacher. I feared, if at all I was confronted with any question, I might not be able to reply it. I never discussed my weakness in studies with my father. Once, I had tuition for a month or so for all the subjects with Bakshi Khushal Chand who was my Urdu teacher and he could not do justice to me in teaching the main subjects. Bakshi Khushal Chand was in charge of sports in the School. I neither had any interest in any game nor in sports. In summer when the weather used to be fine or cloudy the students used to shout ‘fine day fine day’ after the prayer and some times the school would takes the students from 6th to 10th to some play grounds far away the School and every body was supposed to take parts in some game or at least was supposed to watch them but I used to run back home without telling any teacher as they did not allow any student to go home.

I don’t know how I was getting promotion from one class to other, as I never failed in any class also. I didn’t have many friends also with whom I could roam or go to their homes. I had no liking for going to any body’s house. I preferred to stay at home. There were a few friends in the street but I never used to visit them.  However, some times some of them used to come to my house but there was no routine. When I was in 8th my cousin Krishan Gopal also joined this school in 5th in primary section. There was one teacher whom the students used to call him ‘Chacha Charlie’ in his absence. Once I was walking with Krishan in a street near our house, he told me some thing against this teacher. I boosted and told my cousin that I would see ‘Chacha Charlie’ in the School the next day. Then suddenly there was a strong slab on my face from my right side when I lifted my face the man who slapped was ‘Chacha Charlie’ who was just walking behind us, which we never knew. He slapped on my cheek and said something and went ahead.

Once, there was a function of Urdu forum (Bazme Adab) and this function was presided over by the Persian teacher. I gave my name for recitation of the poem which I had recited at Malakwal and which was applauded also. Here as soon as I finished the poem there was a hard slap my cheek in the function and the teacher asked me, how I dare to make fun of Persian language. In fact I never knew the exact meaning of the sentences.

My father was very fond of good eating and good wearing. He very was particular about his up keep. He always used perfumed oil. He was fond of ‘Jari ki juti’ (foot wear), ‘tile ka Kula’ (head gear used for binding turban over it, but in routine he used to wear white turban on straw ‘kula’ as it was light in weight. He used well washed and starched  long white shirt and ‘salwar’ washed by the washer man. In his early life he used to wear woolen bridges often. He used to bring quality fruit and good quality sweets in bulk. He also used to bring vegetable and other house hold items like pulses in bulk  of good quality. He did not carry them in his hand but would hire a ‘jhali wala’ (labour having big basket to carry goods on his head). He was fond of ‘Pakore’ and used to make them in bulk at home on number of times. but he used to take only  two very small chapattis.  When ‘Pakore’ were made no other dish was taken with the chapattis. But in bazaar his pets were: ‘Pakore Mangal de’, ‘Dud (milk) Mathra da’, ‘Puri-Lassi and sweets Sai Di’, ‘Chhena (Paneer) sweets Kubba Halwai da’, ‘Kulche-Chhole Godar de’, ‘Samose Ramji de’ .Cold-Drink Rose and lemon soda ‘Sohan da’ as they were very famous and he was very fond of all these We used to bring Cold Drinks of Rose from Sohan and  used to mix it with milk, called ‘dud soda’ and was enjoyed in summer. For Ice cream he used to take us to Raja Bazaar in very big shop. Ice cream was served in special cups with special flat head spoon with a buffer biscuit. We used to call our father ‘Bhapa ji’ while I was called ‘Pal’. He was soft spoken, social and had very cordial relations with all his relatives and their family members. He would never speak ill of any body nor would he allow us to speak against any body even if somebody did wrong to us. He normally never got annoyed. At house he would sit aside and would not take food had there been any bickering with my mother. He studied up to 8th but he never passed 8th.  He could read English News paper. He was very hard working and honest. We had two big rooms. He himself made Kitchen, store and boundary walls of the latrines with wooden waste planks. He would discourage us to take or borrow from neighbors and would ask us to go to bazaar and buy it instead. He was very particular to give respect to others, particularly to the parents of daughter/sister in-laws. He will never allow us to speak ill of  others and their short coming.  

My mother was very simple. She belonged to a village Malakwal and had her education of reading and writing of Gurmukhi (Punjabi) at Gurdwara. She used to read Geeta in Punjabi in her early days but she picked up Devnagari script also for reading Geeta after partitions. In our childhood she used to give us ‘Ghuti’ an herbal medicine which was very bitter in taste. We used to resist its taking . To change the taste he used to give a pinch of sugar. Whenever there was some bickering in the family she used to get ‘gash’ (became unconscious). Otherwise she never stayed alone or left the food. It was not an easy task to take care of  a large family. Preparing food and washing of their clothes itself was a very big job. There used be no helping maids in those days. For number of years she also suffered from disease known as ‘Sangrahni’ (continuous purging) for number of years and was reduced to Skeleton. Number of Doctors and Hakims were consulted but of no avail. Ultimately a tip of some body worked. A medicine made from white ‘Surma’ on the tip of the straw was given for sometimes and it worked.

Once,  when we were living at Bazaar Sarafan my mother had some bickering with one of my bhuas and my mother had a ‘gash’. Incidentally I was at home.  I was very much disturbed and I was required to tell the incidence to my father at his shop at ‘Lal Kurti’ which was far away (4 or 5 miles). I was without leg wearing. n haste I could not find my own. Some how, I found one red ‘dupatta’ lying there. I tied that ‘dupatta’ to my waist and ran to the shop. When I took the Tonga from Rose Cinema the Tonga wala asked me if I was running from my house and he might have told me to get down. I told him the facts. My mother was very innocent also.  It is told that after her marriage the attending relatives gave her perfumed  ‘alma’ oil for the hairs but she told “ main te ghee malesa” (I will use ghee). Every body was amused .This incident was narrated to me number of times by Chachi Kaushalya  wife of my father’s cousin to show her innocence.

Whenever my nani used to come Rawalpindi, she used to bring a big bowl of Butter, ‘Satu’ (flour made from dry fried barley) and ‘holla’ (fire backed unpeeled green grams) and some time she would bring maize and millet flour also, ‘dusa’ (long vegetable strips) and some times Desi Ghee.

The marriage of my father was solemnised at Bhera as my Great Grand Parents were living there. Some days after the marriage when my Grand mother was bringing my mother to Rawalpindi from Bhera, at Rawalpindi railway station his brother Hari Ram Kohli was there to receive them and to break the news that my Great-Grand-Mother had expired. .Reluctantly both were sent back to Bhera in the first available train. On the way my mother was dropped at Malakwal at my nani’s house and my grand-mother with my father proceeded to Bhera. (Malakwal was a railway junction from she was to change the train for Bhera). When she reached Bhera town in the way she started ‘vains’ (swan-song) over the death of her mother in-law immediately after entering the town but some passerby told her ‘you are weeping for your mother in-law only your father in-law too had expired’. My great-grand-father also expired when the news about the death of my great grandmother was conveyed to him. The dead bodies of my great-grand-father and great-grand mother were taken for cremation simultaneously. This unusual incidence was talk of the town.

On return from Bhera my ‘dadi’ was receiving the relatives and neighbors for condolence during the day but at night she was distributing the ‘mathai/bhaji’ secretly to relatives (as bulk was lying ready for the purpose, other wise it would have gone waste). As such my ‘Dadi’ had to perform both the diverse jobs simultaneously.

Vains’ and breast beating was horrible custom in those days. At the death of the dear one the ladies of the house used to sit in the after noon at their house at one place on the ‘phuri’  (literal meaning of ‘phuri’ is mate made with date leaves but it is used for sitting on the floor for mourning the death of the departed soul. The ladies from the relation used to come and sit with the bereaved family daily till the 13th day of the death. The ladies from the mohalla (street) would also join them. There used to be beat the breast weeping and crying loudly for the departed soul. This breast beating and crying loudly in rhymes was done in one order for a few minutes and was repeated number on times while sitting on ‘Phuri’. Some time some professional or expert was engaged to perform this drill in uniformity. The ‘phuri’, the floor mat of date leaves was replaced latter to ‘dari’, but ‘phuri’ still stands for sitting for mourning the dead.

My Dadi was called at Lahore as my Daya Bhua was not well even after giving her treatments of the doctor for the long time. Ultimately it was decided that she be brought to Rawalpindi for treatment. She was given treatment but of no avail. She had become so weak that she could not walk without support.  It was felt that some body might have bewitched her. Some one suggested that she be taken to some ‘Sidh’ at Murree Road. Tonga was requisitioned from father’s maternal house from Company Bagh. (They used to keep Tonga and kochwan/Sayees (driver) with two horses). When she was being taken to Murree Road on Tonga, on the way at 9 Number Choki (Octroi No 9) at Murree Road, the horse suddenly stopped. Every effort was made by the ‘Sayees’ to make the horse to go forward but he did not succeeded. When they were standing on the road some body told them that there was Mata ji place here. They got down and went to her place and met Mata ji and narrated the whole position. Mata ji gave some holy water to be given to Bhua Daya after some intervals. She was brought back home and was given bed in the drawing room, We started giving her the holy water which we brought by a spoon. Immediately after taking the water she became restless and began to rotate her head. My elder uncle Suraj Parkash who was also standing there, he pulled her hairs taking some ‘Bhoot Atma’ (witch) had come to Bhua. At the pulling of her hairs she became furious and began to shout. “I will destroy you. You have pulled down my head gear (Mukat). If I have created you I can destroy you also. I am Krishna.” Everybody standing there was stunned and fearful. Immediately Uncle Suraj Parkash and all other standing begged for forgiveness. Ultimately, the super natural force left her body telling that He would again be coming next day. We were giving the holly water as per schedule. The coming day she again became unconscious and the movement of her lips was quite different as if her lips were on the flute. He used to come and go but before going He used to give the exact time of His next visit. It is strange exact at the notified time her condition used to became the same. Once the time given was 5 O’clock in the evening and she was getting her hairs combed at that time but her condition became the same exact at 5 O’Clock. It is beyond comprehension how the exact time given was observed.

Our toilets were on the second floor but she could not step us the stairs. Even she was unable to walk without support. One day in that very condition she told ‘To day we will like to go for a walk to Company Bagh’ which was about three miles from our house. We offered her that we may call for the Tonga from Company Bagh from her mama’s house, but she refused and told “No we will be going on foot.” She walked all the way up to Company Bagh and way back. At Company Bagh, we requested her to take rest for some times at his mama’s house  but she refused to stay there, saying “ they are not good people” and she walked back again on foot to the house. (It is without saying that two three person accompanied her). It is again beyond comprehension how she walked such long distance when she was too weak to walk which was not less than three miles. All this went on for about a month and once we asked when He will be leaving her. He told the time and day He would leave her but put a condition that she should be taken to Murree the same day  when He leaves. It was Monday when Bhua was to be taken to Murree but suddenly my Dadi had to leave for Miani as Dadi of my Chachi Sheila’s had expired. As such Bhua could not be taken to Murree. At night when every body was still awake we saw that she was trying to jump from the window in the street. Some how she was pulled back and found she was unconscious again. She murmured  “You have breached your promise now I am taking her with me,” Again her life was begged with the promise that she would be taken to Murree next morning.  After taking promise He left and Bhua became conscious. There was a problem, we used to believe in those days not to  take journey on Tuesday . Ultimately it was decided that her language be taken out and kept to our neighbors house. Her language was got ready at night and was kept at the house of the neighbour and in the next morning, on Tuesday my father took Bhua to Murree. After that she began to recoup. Though this incidence raises may many questions but I was witness to this entire episode.    

Some Important places of Rawalpindi were ‘Dehri Baba Sarab Dayal’ ,Saradara Da Bagh, Lai Rivlet, Garden College and Company Bagh (where the first Prime Minister of Pakistan (Liquat Ali) of Pakistan and later (Benazeer Bhutto) ex-Prime Ministers were assassinated) .  Dehri was a temple where Samadhi of Baba Sarab Dayal, Lord Krishna’s Statue and Gurudwara  were located, Sardara Da bagh was very big garden. There were green parks and number of pine  trees. There was a Shiva temple with big Statue of Nandi in the open compound, besides a Gurdwara . The garden was in three four acre of land. Lai was a small rivulet. On Basakhi and other religious occasions we used to take bath. There were small tanks also near it. Some people used to take bath in the tanks. The cremation ground was also near it. Dussehra and other fairs were also celebrated on its crossing. The mains bazaars were Raja Bazaar, Sarafan Bazaar, Qilla, Bazaar Talwara, Kasera Bazaar, Tranka wala Bazaar, Moti Bazar, Bohri mohalla, Subzi Mandi, Chitia Hattia and Anaj Mandi. The Cinemas houses were: Rose Cinema, New-Rose Cinema, and Imperial Cinema besides there was one talkie (Cinema) near Kashmir-Murree  Bus stand.

The main currency used was rupia; Anna and paisa. One could purchase with one rupee many things. One paisa or half paisa was sufficient for us. The other currency in used was Athani Chowani, Dawani, Anna, Taka, Paisa, Dhela, Pai, and Damri. One Rupee was the main unit. Two Adhania (50 paisa), four ‘Chowani’ (25paisa), eight ‘Dawania’ (12 paisa), sixteen ‘Aanas’ (6 Paisa) and sixty-four ‘Paise’ (100paisa) made one Rupees. Two paisa was ‘Taka’, half of paisa was ‘thela’ and one third of paisa was ‘pai’ and one fourth of the paisa was ‘damri’. Damri was seldom in use but pai was used for giving to the beggars only but its utility had vanished in commercial use. Accounting was done in rupees, anna and paisa. I used to get one paisa initially and could spend half of it that was ‘dhela’ at one time or I could take two things in one paisa. Subsequently, in high School, I used to get one Anna as pocket money. In School, I seldom spent. My father used to bring fruits and any other thing we needed, but a hawker used to come in the street with a ‘benghi ‘(two big baskets tied on a bamboo and putting it on his shoulder. selling ‘channes’ (grams), murmmery, Kashmir maize. Some times we used to go to ‘Bhati’; the lady (mehari) will roast our grams and maize. Some times we used to bring Pakore (what we calledtaliya’) from Mangal. Some times in the morning we used to get ‘pratha’ stuffed with radish only.

My sixteen birth days had passed  and I was fifteen plus but there used to be no birthday celebrations  those days. It was not only mine but there was no custom. Even, we never knew the date of birthday . As said earlier I was not in the habit of going to the houses of any friends or known. However, some times, some boys of the mohalla used to come to my house for playing. I had some interest in playing of dramas. I made curtains for the same and mustaches long hairs of jute and coloured them black and ‘mukats’ .We used to play drama at my house only. Some of the friends from the street who used to come to my house were charanjeev, Nand Kishore, Rameshwar.

Though Air Force station was not visible but from our house top but  I used to see the parachutes dropping from the planes. After dropping of the parachutes it used to open in the air and become like umbrellas and some thing tied at the end of the ropes of the parachutes was  seen. This tied substance used to be the paratroopers (though not clearly visible. I used to enjoy this scene and would stand on the roof to till this exercise used to come to the  end. I took a clue from the dropping of the parachutes. I used to tie four twins at the end of my handkerchief and the end of the twins I used to tie a small piece of brick or stone and used to drop it from the roof.  Like a parachutes it also used to open in the air in the form of umbrella and slowly used to drop in our courtyard (second floor).  I got a game to play and enjoy without any body’s company. In those days used parachutes were sold in the market and ladies used to make suits with its cloth. It was heavy synthetic cloth. For making the cloth the stitches of the parachutes had be ripped and I used to help my mother in ripping the stitches.

My other hobbies were making of temple in the house and used the bed sheets  in some corner of the house and putting photos and small statues of Rama and Krishana or used to place ‘Saligram’ or ‘Shiv Ling’ in the temple. I used get ‘gulis dandas’ of wood prepared from my Dada ji which I seldom played. If I played at all I used to play at my roof only. I used to purchase ‘slaletisi’ (for writing on slates) and ‘kalams’ (for writing on the wooden plank (Takhti’) in bulk so that my younger brothers and sisters might not have to go to bazaar for this purpose . I don’t remember if we brothers and sisters had ever quarreled or any one of them had spoken before me. I was much allergic to the hair dressing  of my sister. Nirmal who was hardly five or six years of age but she was very found of making ‘phool chiria’ on her hairs. When ever I used to see this I used to pull her hairs. Otherwise I never showed any authority on my brothers or sisters. My cousin Krishan and brother Inder were studying in DAV Primary School Moti Bazaar and my sister Kamla was studying in Jain School where my Bhua Rani was a primary teacher.

I did not know the meaning and significance of Shraadh’. Once Puri, Kheer, Bhalle and special vegetables were being prepared by my Dadi and we were to take our lunch with  Dadi. I asked my Dadi what was that day and why special preparations were being made. My Rani Bhua was  sitting in the Veranda, abruptly said ‘to day’ is your Dada ji Saradh’ but before any body could correct her she herself became conscious of what she said and immediately corrected her self by saying ‘Oh no, to day is my Par-dada (great grand father)’s ‘shraadh’.

Once, my mother told me that I was annoying her (Tang kar raha hun). But I can’t recall for what reason she was annoyed. Normally I was never a nuisance as far as I can recall but she told me that she would write to my father who was at that time at Srinagar with his cousin Roshan Lal Kohli (son of his maternal Uncle Hari Ram Kohli). In those days only post card was used for writing letters. I immediately wrote Post Card to my father at Srinagar, conveying him that Bhabi ji (My mother) had told me that I was annoying her. Post Card used to cost two paisa (3 paisa)and envelop one anna (6 paisa).

Sometimes I used to play Chor Siphai (Thief and the Police). I used to become policeman and other boys of our Gali (street) used to become thieves, we used to run up to Qilla in the streets . when we used to catch some one we used to shout in the street. My other hobbies were that I used to collect funds from our friends and from known person  to install ‘chhabeel’ of sweat water and milk near our house on Nirgala Akadshi/Hari Akadhsi. Due to shortage, once, I approached an honorary magistrate who sanctioned me 10 seers of sugar and rest we arranged from own houses and bought ice slabs from the market and  served the sweat water to the public. The other hobby was that I used to make ‘Jhula of ‘BAL Krishna’ in the main bazaar, when all the shops were closed, in a veranda of  one shop on ‘Janam Ashtmi’. We used to decorate and design the scenery with fresh green grass with photos and statues of Lord Krishna. It was illuminated with good numbers of electric bulbs also. It used to be the good show. People from other the area also used to visit and see our presentation when they were on round to see many others. .

The struggle for the independence was very strong in Rawalpindi also. Once Jawaharlal Nehru was to come Rawalpindi and was to address the Public meeting. Thousands of people had gathered there to see him and hear him. I was too small to understand all this but was anxious to see Jawaharlal Nehru and I also went with my father to the ground where he was to come. For hours, people waited for him but he did not come. Whenever any airplane was seen flying over the sky, people used to shout ‘Now Pandit ji had come’, and the people would stay on for another hours but ultimately people stared pelting the place. I had never seen Pt. Nehru from close distance. (I had his glimpses only at Rajghat, Delhi after country’s partition. Nehru accompanied there with his grand children, Rajeev and Sanjay clad in white Kurta and Pyjama. Rajeev and Sanjay might be hardly between nine to eleven years). Once, Mahatma Gandhi came to Rawalpindi. It was night. He was to stay at Mohan Pura (a locality of Rawalpindi behind Rose Cinema). Hundreds of people were there to see him. Ultimately he came in procession and was sitting on top of one of the vehicles. I could have his glimpse in darkness for a few seconds.

Rawalpindi was then Gate Way of Kashmir. This was the only route for going to Srinagar, Kashmir, in those days. Whether one was coming from Delhi,Calcutta,Madras or Bombay, one had to pass through Rawalpindi for going to Kashmir by road. There was common bus stand for Murree and Srinagar near Raja Bazaar. Once In June 1946 Nehru was going to Srinagar in support of  Sheikh Abdullah but was arrested by Maharaja  Hari Singh of J & K. and he was to stop  near Kohalla on J.K. border. Sheikh Abdulla was president of Muslim Conference (later National Conference).

I was studying in 8th when my Daya Bhua‘s was going to be married to Om Prakash Koachhar s/o Nanad Gopal Kochhar of Arya Pura. The family belonged to Gujarat (Punjab). My uncle Om Prakash Kochhar was working in Punjab National Bank, Tranka wala bazaar and his father Nand Gopal Kochhar was working in Railways. There was a heavy rain a day before her marriage. All the arrangements for the reception became futile. The reception of the baraat was to be held at our own house on the second floor. All the ‘Shamianas’ were drenched in rains. The Welcome Gate was made of Banana trunks and bamboos covered with green leaves. The streets were decorated with half colorful Jhandiyan (small flags) of kite paper and pasted on the jute twine. This was prepared by me tied in the street but all the flags were washed.

Omprakash Kochhar had a very good handwriting. He wrote. in beautiful handwriting, some letters and applications of my course so that I could learn them. When my 8th class examination was near, I was asked to go his house at Arya Pura at night to take coaching from him for the exam, but I could never get his guidance. On my reaching late, it was time for their going to bed and early in the morning I had to come back to my residence as I was to get ready for School. The distance between our house and his house was about 3 miles and I had to go on foot. However, I got through in the examination and the credit of passing the 8th class went to him.  

OUR PILGRIMAGE TO HARIDWAR: In holidays we went to Haridwar with family. As it was our first visit, we were much excited on the bank of Gangas. We stayed in one ‘Dharmshala’  (inn) near Har ki Pouri. As it was summer all the members of the family used to take rest and sleep at noon but I used to sit in an isolation in one corner and used to weep while thinking that every body would die one day I don’t know how this thought crept in my mind but I used ponder over it for hours and used to weep. No body knew in my family what I was thinking or doing in the isolation. We visited Mansa Devi and stayed at Rishikesh for a few days.

OUR PILGRIMAGE TO MATHURA VRINDAVAN:  From Haridwar we wanted to visit Mathura Vrindavan. Tickets for Mathura were banned from Haridwar  those days. The reason, I don’t remember.  My father bought tickets for Agra as Mathura was in its way and he thought of getting down at Mathura. When we reached Mathura Station we immediately got down from the train and proceeded toward the exist . The ticket collector objected to our getting down at Mathura and began to force us to go back to the train for Agra. While my father was arguing with the ticket collector he singled us to go out. In the meanwhile some one came to ticket collector and he started talking to him and my father also slipped. The train from which we alighted also steamed off. He immediately turned where my father was standing but found the he had slipped. He walked out side the gate to look us but we hurriedly took a shelter behind the Tongas. We were observing his movement. When the ticket collector left the gate and was out of sight we hired Tonga for Vrindavan. We stayed in Dharmshala (inn) near Cheer Ghat which was close to ‘Bihari ji Mandir’. ‘Bihari ji Mandir’ was all marbled with twisted marble pillars. There was golden temple, ‘Banke Bihari ji temple’, ‘Kunj Gali’ and many more temples. Though I had visited most of the temples but suddenly my eyes became very sore and I was unable to see clearly.

My parents used to leave me in the room while they went to see the temples. Once, I was standing on the door, I saw a monkey coming to my side I tried to lift some thing to scare from him off, but as I picked the small stick laying there a battalion of monkeys attacked me.  I was frightened and cried very loudly.  It was just a chance when my parents returned and saved me. They also had to make a struggle to get rid of them. We stayed at Vrindavan for about a week and on way back to Mathura we saw historical Lal Mandir with its three stories on the floor.  We stayed Mathura for three four days and visited Nand Gaon and Barsana.  After a few days we were back to Rawalpindi via Delhi.  I recall two persons who accompanied us, one was a mirror maker (whose shop was on the crossing of Talwara Bazaar (now Urdu Bazaar) and the other was dyer (Rang Saz), Ram Parkash (whose shop was a little ahead  of Talwara Bazaar toward Subzi mandi). What impressed me was that Ram Parkash was very humble man whenever, he used to see a little piece of ‘Roti’ laying on the ground, he used to pick up those pieces and put them on any  a raised stone or on wall so that some bird may take it. His view was that a little bit of ‘Roti’ (cereal) is precious and should not be allowed to be roll under the feet. This ‘roti’ is our life and why should we role our life under the feet. From that day whenever possible I used to pick up the piece of any eatable lying on the ground, I would pick up and place it at a proper place from where it could be used by stray animals and birds. From that day, in my eating plate I would try, not to leave a particle to be thrown in the dust bin.

OUR PILGRIMAGE TO KATASRAJ: I had visited Katasraj three times. Katasraj was closed to Malakwal and we used to go from Malakwal. Once we went with massi Rampiari and her sister in-law Sawraj also. From Malakwal we used to go Khewra by train. (Khewura is very famous for salt mines). This salt is now known as ‘sendha namak’, ‘Pakistani Namak’, ‘Pathar Namak’. Because of its scarcity now it is mostly used as medicine. But in Pakistan this was the only salt used in cooking). Just after enlightening from the train at Khewura Railway Station, we used to cross the Railway lines and just after crossing them there was a dry mountainous road leading to Katasraj via Choha Sedan Shah. Normally we used to visit Katasraj on Basakhi. It used to be very hot these days. We had to start our journey at noon after the train reaches Khewura Station. Katasraj was about 20 miles from Khewura and we had to go on foot all the way. Tongas were available but we never saw them and more so it might have difficult to go by Tonga all the way as the road was steep ascending at some places. Tongas might have been used to carry the goods. Any how, we used to go on foot in the scorching heat taking rest on the way but there were no trees on either side of the road. In the evening we used to reach Choha Sedan Shah. Choha Sedan Shah was a small town known for the cottage industry of distilling Rose water. Katasraj was about three miles from Choha Sedan Shah. From Choha Sedan Shah there was sweet fragrance of roses on the way and there were number of ‘Locaat’ trees on the either side of the road. Before dusk we used to reach Katasraj and take rest in the house of a local  Pandit who used to give it to the ‘yatries with bedding,  In the morning we used get ready to have the view of the procession taken out by the Nanga (naked) Sadhus followed by other Sadhus.  After the Sadhus had taken bath in the holly tank all the yatries were allowed to take bath.The water in the tank comes from the underground. It is said Lord Shiva one tear fell here while He was crossing over this place. The similar story is being told about Pushkar Raj and Ujjain. There were very many old buildings for which it is said that Pandvas stayed here during their Agiatwas. The next day we used to return. It is said that some one asked one yatri where he was going he used to tell Katasraj but when the same yatri was asked when he was returning  his reply was ‘Kataso’ in tiring voice. This indicated that journey was very tedious in the scorching heat on foot during summer.

Katasraj, Pakistan

OUR PILGRAMAGE TO PUNJA SAHIB : As I remember, I had visited Punja Sahib thrice in my childhood. Punja Sahib is associated with Guru Nanak. As it was close to Rawalpindi when ever any relative of ours used to visit us we used to take him to Punja Sahib. Normally, we used to visit Punja Sahib on Basakhi.  For going to Punja Sahib we had to go to Hassan Abdaal by Railway from Rawalpindi. On reaching Hassan Abdaal railway station, Tongas were available for going to Punja Sahib. The building of the Gurudwara was double storey and there were many rooms for the yatries on both the floors. There were verandas in front of the rooms on both the floors. Just after entering the big gate of the Gurdwara and crossing a few yards on the right side there was holy tank where the ‘yatris’ used to take bath. When we enter the holly tank on the right side there was window from where the holy water was gushing out in the tank and in the window there was engraved Palm of the hand on the wall, said to be of Baba Nanak. We used to take this holly water in our hands take it as ‘Amrit’ (Nectar).

Punja Sahib Gurdwara Entrance Gate

There is a small dry hill known after a ‘Pir’ known as ‘Wali Ghandari’. It is said once Baba Nanak came Punja Sahib Village with his disciple Bala and Mardana. One of the disciple wanted some water and He was told that there is only one spring at the hill top and the water is available there only. Baba sent one of his disciple at the hill top but the ‘Pir’ refused to give Him water. The disciple came back. Then Baba put His palm on a wall of the town and the water started gashing out of it and simultaneously the water dried up in the spring at the top of hill. I once went to this Wali Ghandari Hill top also. There were no trees on the way. It was very difficult to climb up the dry hill in the scorching heat. The hill top must be about two miles from the Gurdwara.

Obstinate as I was, once there were ‘mundans’ (first hair cut) of my brother Ashok all the relatives had come. Next day after the  function my massis (mother’s sisters) decided to visit Punja Sahib. They also asked me to accompany them but I abruptly said ‘No’ and they did not insist for my going with them. Instead they gave me eight ‘annas’ (half-rupee) for my staying there. But from core of my heart I also wanted to go Punja Sahib and expected they would ask me again. But they left. As soon as they left I told my mother I also wanted to go Punja Sahib. My mother told me I could go with massis when they asked me but now they had left. I said no I would go after them and catch them. I changed my clothes and ran up to Rose Cinema which was a little less than two miles from our house. I took Tonga up to Gawalmandi Railway Bridge. After crossing the bridge, I again ran toward the Railway Station which was about one mile from the bridge. When I reached Railway Station the Punja Sahib train had already left. Now, it was question of my prestige not to go back. At that time I must be of 11 or 12 years old. Instead of returning home I decided to go Punja Sahib on foot by the Railway track. I had 7 annas by that time, as I had already given one Anna to Tonga wala. I started walking on foot toward Punja Sahib on the Railway Track. I crossed one Railway station but before I could reach the Golra Railway station, two shepherd boys (grown up) stopped me and asked me where I was going?  Simultaneously one of them told the other ‘he is a ‘kafar’ (non believer i.e. non-Muslim) kill him’. Some how I beg for life and told them that there was death of some of my relative and I was way going there. I was frightened and ultimately they spared me and I marched to the next railway station. I enquired from the Golra Railway station when the next train for Hassan Abdaal was to go? I was told the next train would be going around 5.00 p.m. I also enquired the fare of the half ticket for Hassan Abdal, which I had after sparing one Anna for the Tonga from Hassan Abdaal Railway station to Punja Sahib. I reached Hasan Abdaal by evening and took Tonga from the Railway Station for Gurdwara. By the time I reached there it was already dusk. I searched for the massis and found them sitting on the floor to take ‘langar’ (meals). They were astonished to see me there. They told me that I should have accompanied them in the morning. I never told of this misadventure to any one.

VAISHO MATA: I must have visited Mata Vaishno Devi three or four times from Rawalpindi. Once my nani accompanied us and on other visit was the family of my father cousin Roshan Lal Kohli and twice we might have visited with our own family. My father was ardent devotee of Vaishno Mata. There was one Vaishno Mata Sabha at Rawalpindi and he was member of that Sabha. He used to visit Vaishno Darbar almost every year, if not with family members with his Sabha members. The route to Jammu in those days was only via Sialkot. The Jammu-Pathankot route was not there. From Rawalpindi we used to go Sialkot and from here we used to change the train for Jammu. We used to stay at Raghu Nath temple. In the morning some times we used to go River Tawi for a bath.

Once, Roshan Lal Kohli (my father’s Blue eyed maternal cousin with one half cut finger) and his family were in our company. We were staying at Ragunath temple. He was very jolly. One evening we were standing in the bazaar before Raghu Nath temple. Suddenly uncle raised his one hand toward the sky and began to cry’ woh! woh! ……..! ’. His face and hand was toward the sky and he went on repeating these words. We were also seeing toward the sky finding nothing. Gradually a large number of passer byes also began to collect around us and they also began to see toward the sky anxiously. Every body was asking each other what was there but uncle without replying went on repeating ‘woh. When a good number of people had gathered there, he abruptly said Hathi (Elephant).  All who gathered there became very ashamed as they were  be-fooled and went away smiling.

From Jammu, normally, we used to go Katra, the base camp of Vaishno Darbar, by bus but once we had gone Katra by Tonga. I think; the Tonga was mainly used for the language and the adults were walking and on the way they were having ‘darshans’ of the temples. Some times I would also get down from the tonga to visit the temple and would catch the tonga again on the upper road by short cuts as the road were like serpentine. The speed of the ‘tongawas also very slow because of ascending hilly track. Once we had lunch of Makki di Roti (Maize Roti) and Sarson da Saag at Do Mail, from where the road for Srinagar and Katra are separated. (when we had gone Katra by Tonga).

At Katra rooms were available with the ‘Prohits’ and they used to provide blankets and bedding also. As I can recall there was no hotel. Only ‘dhabas’ for food especially for maize ‘roti and ‘urd’ fried in desi ghee were available and these used to be very delicious. At Katra Bamboo sticks and canvass shoes were available on hire. Some people used to take the shoes on hire, some used to purchase the new one and most of the pilgrims used to go bare footed. Our family used to go bare footed. We used to take Bamboo stick on hire and used to engage one ‘Pithu’ (labour) for carrying the luggage. In the morning we used to start our journey bear footed. The Vaishno Darbar was probably about 12 miles from Katra. By noon we used to reach there. After taking bath under the gushing icy cold fall we used to enter the cave accompanied by a ‘prohit ’ through the narrow entrance, crawling on the big stone known as the Bharion’s body. After crossing the ‘Bhairon’ stone-body there used to be complete darkness in the cave. But our prohit used to take the Jyoti (burning cotton in Ghee)  used to show  the way in the cave. Prohit used to be in middle of the visiting yatries so as to show light to all those who are ahead of him and all those who were behind him. The way in the cave was not straight we had to bend at many places up to ‘Vaishno Mata ji pinds’.  We had to walk in icy cold gushing water. We were allowed to stay there for the worship for about ten-fifteen minutes.  After getting ‘darshans’ we used to come back from the same route (at that time there was only entrance). Only one family/party  used to accompany the prohit  inside the cave and on returning of that party the other party/family used to go with their ‘Prohit’. There were not much places to stay at the Darbar and we used to return to Katra by the evening. On way back we used to take darshans of Bharion at Bhairon ghati. It was considered that without ‘Bharaion’s darshans on way back, Mata’s darshan’s were incomplete but while going ‘darbar’ the darshan of Bhairon were considered inauspicious. The temple of Bharion was on a raised place with a few stairs . While going for Darshans to Vaishno Mata we used to crawl in the cave at Ardkuwari which was on half  the way. The ascending of the hill was very difficult at certain points where the ascend was very steep especially at ‘Hathi Matha’. At Ban Ganga from where the ascending starts, some times we used to take bath.

On coming back at Katra after taking some rest in the room we used to enjoy the delicious ‘maki ki roti and sabat mah’ fried in Desi Ghee which I could never enjoy thereafter even at Katra. The rates were also very reasonable. There were many shops for purchasing small gifts. From Ban Ganga hilly track starts and there were no walkable paths. One had to climb the narrow paths with only voice ‘Jai Mata Di’. Ascending and Descending people used to give way to each others while crossing in the way. as the paths were very small They used to greet each other with ‘Jai Mata Di’. After ascending a short distance one used to feel a little tired and there used to be some heaviness in their voice while saying’ Jai Mata Di’. On the way there were many resting points where the saltiest roasted grams and water  was given  free of cost. While ascending from Ban Ganga a little girls called’ kanjeke’ used to come from the hills and ask for ‘Damri or Pai’ ( the smallest coins of the period). The Yatries while starting their ‘Yatra’ from Katra used to bring sufficient number these small coins to be given to these to the little girls (Kankaje). Exchange facility of coins was available at Katra but we used to bring these coins from Rawalpindi itself. After traveling so much we never had any swelling or pain. Except at Katra and Darbar there were no eating shops

As I recall, while living  in Rawalpindi we changed  our residence five times.  Our first house was in Gali Oberai, Mohalla Shah Chancharag, in Bazaar Sarafan where I was born. The second was Ghama’s House in Sewa Ram Street where my mundans  (first hair cut) ceremony was performed and my brother Inder was born. The third house was near Moti Bazaar where my brother Inder’s ‘Mundan’ were held. The fourth house was in Ganga Ram Street. (This house was at the end of the small blind street near Bazaar Sarafan. At the corner of the street there was one gold smith’s shop. In his verandah there was cemented bench. At number of times we used to see Shdole ki Choohi whose body was grown up like elderly child but size of his head was very small like that of a baby. He used to eat and walk like an ordinary man but  he could not speak like us. I was told that if any body stare at him  for long or call him, he would try to bite him but he was never left alone. Some one used to sit with and probably he was chained also. I was told his biting was very poisonous. I used to see him from the distance. After this we again shifted to first house. But before riots we shifted to the house which was just above our shop and where my brother Vijay was born.

Our shop-house had folding stairs which were in the verandah of the shop and we used to pull it up and tie it with the ceiling of the verandah at night. When the houses were shifted I cannot recall. The location of shop of my father was changed four times besides remaining at Murree and Srinagar. The first shop was in Sewa Ram Street where my dada ji had grocery shop, the second shop was just outside the Ganga Ram Street in Bazaar Sarafan and the third was at Lal kurti in Sadar Bazaar area and the lost was big show room at the end of Bazaar Sarafan (outside Mohalla Shah Chancharag). I think earlier shops they retained for short period but the last one remained for the longest time, till  India was divided. When they changed the shops I didn’t know.  I must be at Malakwal perhaps but I remember the opening of one shop only near Ganga Ram Street in Bazaar Sarafan where I got a sever slap from my father’s mama ji, Hari Ram Kohli after which I had high fever and there after I was sent to Malakwal.

My father had been at the service of his maternal uncle and his family. As it is told my father was loved his maternal uncle Hari Ram Kohli very much. He used keep him along even when he used to go on pilgrimage. He kept him in his business all along and even after his death also he was looking his business independently and was in-charge of one of his shops either at Rawalpindi or at Murree, as his own children were School/college going. The head office of the entire business establishment was at Company Bagh where they had a very big building with residence on the first floor. But it hunts me even now why he could not have been given an opportunity to start his own business independently even after his children had grown up. Why it was  not thought to keep him in his business with declared share, when I had seen many of the persons who were serving them had started their own business after leaving them. It is true that we never felt like that he was in their service. Probably it was not known socially also. We never felt dearth of any thing. We were getting every thing what we needed. There is also no denying that my grand mother and her family were getting full respect from their children even. But he could not built his own house even though they were providing reasonable accommodation to us from my grand-mother’s parents property.  

BHEROCHI SABHA: The persons belonging to Bhera and settled at Rawalpindi could be the members ‘Bherochi Sabha’ There used to be its regular meetings. Some times I used to accompany my father. The members of this Sabha were supposed to attend happy and sad occasion of their families. There was no system of sending cards or intimation. They had engaged one stout ‘Nai’ (barber) who used shout at the main door of the house in the street of the members to inform about the sad or good events. He used to shout at the door so loud that the persons residing at the second floor could also listen to the message. The addressee used to come to their front window or door and if they wanted any clarification which he used to give. After delivering the complete message he used to leave.

There was no sewerage system. The sweepers used to clean the latrines and carry the shit on their head in a wide open basket. How inhuman it was. (This system was prevalent from the time immemorial and it stopped only after the installation of the sewerage and that too after great persuasions by the NGOs and the Government). The worst was that on the marriages and on other functions their folk used to sit in the street waiting for the ‘Juthan’ (left over in the plate after eating). They used to carry very big bowls and used to put every thing which was thrown or dropped in the street. They used to jump over this ‘juthan’. Just like dogs and sometimes there used to be tussle between the dogs and these folks.

My cousin Swaran’s marriage was arranged at Palampur. My Bhua Janki was living at Abbtabad and their business too was at Abbtabad and bridegroom’s parents were also living at Rawalpindi  (in our street) but as the elder brother of my Bhua’s husband, Mallick Harbans Lal  a military contractor was at Palampur and he was considered as the head of the family. The marriage of their daughter Swaran with Dev Raj Chandok  had to be solemnised at Palampur (District Kangara). We being their maternal family our presence at the marriage was must as my father was required for the ‘Chura’ ceremony. We all went there to attend the function. Jagmohan Oberai was his ‘Sabala’. We came back Rawalpindi never knowing that shortly there after the country would be partitioned and we would have again to go Palampur after saying Good Bye to Rawalpindi.

MY CONTACTS WITH R.S.S. (Rashtrya Swayam Sevak Sangh)

I was introduced to R.S.S. by Suraj Parkash Sethi my ‘maser ji’ (husband of my massi Rampiari). My Massi was living just behind our house which was surrounded by three lanes. My ‘maser ji’ was going to morning ‘Shakha’ of R.S.S. of at S.D.School.  Once he took me to Shakha. Probably, it was some special day. My maser ji was in Khaki Nicker and white shirt with a long bamboo stick in his hand. When I reached the school I saw all the people attending there were in the same uniform. After the assembly they did their routine Dhawaj Pranam (salutation to the saffron flag) played some games and then ‘Prathna’ (prayer). As I was new I did not knew any thing. I just sat there in one side, watching them playing. More so all other persons were adults. After the Prathana everybody was asked to sit in circle. I also sat beside my maser ji.  Very big, hot and sweat ‘puras’ were served to every one and after a matra (a recitation in Sanskrit)  all were asked to eat. I enjoyed this ‘Pura’ as this was of ‘Desi Ghee’ (butter ghee) and really delicious. While returning from the Shakha I asked maser ji on the way. “Do they give ‘Puras’ daily?” He smiled and told me that that day was a special occasions. I don’t remember what the occasion on that day. Thereafter I used to accompany him in the morning till winter set in and then I  stopped.

My bhua Daya,  who was studying in Arya School,  Tranka wala bazaar. One day, told me that she was attending  Arya Sevika Sabha in her school ground after the school hours and they used to play. She also told me that after the Sabha was over the boys used to come there for playing. She suggested me that I should also go there for playing. During those days I was studying in 6th class. One day my bench mate Chadha  (brother of Sham Chadha an actor) also told me the same. Ultimately one day I reached Arya School to play at the time suggested by my Bhua . The Shakha had already started.  I went and stood on one side the ground and was watching the games. When I was standing there one of them came to me and asked my name, class and school. I replied all his questions. He asked me: ‘why I don’t come and play with them?’ This was what I wanted. He took me to one the teams which were for  small children. He told the ‘Shikshak’ (instructor) to take me in his ‘verg’ (team) and let me play with them. This was my first day in the evening ‘Shakha’ of R.S.S.

This ‘Shakha’ was known as ‘Mukhyia Shakha’. This was the first ‘Shakha’ which was started in Rawalpindi. I became regular and began to learn their system and rules. There was no subscription nor any enrollment  form. Those who were attending it were called ‘Swaymsevaks’. The ‘Swaymsevaks’ were required to reach the ‘Shakha’ before it was to start. I started coming there in time. Every body that came used to come say ‘namaste’ to the standing ‘swaymsevaks’ and they used to respond him . Five minutes before the assembly there were two long whistles which meant to be ready and then at dot there was a long whistle. There was one ‘Mukhya Shiksak’ (In charge) of the ‘Shakha’. He used to blow these whistle and he would ask ‘Varg’ (class) ‘Agresar Sampat’. The front line ‘swaym sevak’ of the ‘vargs’ would come and stand in straight row before the ‘Mukhiya Shiksak’  giving space of at least two arms. Then the ‘mukhiya Shikshak’ used to tell ‘samiak’ which mean that they should see that they are in perfect straight line. There after he used to call ‘sangh sampat’ (all to come and stand in their row). Then all the swaymsevaks standing at different places would go to the line of their ‘varg’. Then the Mukhya Shikshak would again ask for samiak. Now this samiak was for the front ‘swaymsevaks’ to turn their back and see the ‘swaymsevaks’ standing behind them were in the straight line. Then he would ask for the ‘sankhia’ (counting). At this the last swaymsevak would come counting the swaymsevaks in the row and would tell the total of the row to the front ‘swaymsevak’ and go back to his place. Then one senior swaymsevak would go to the each front line ‘swaymsevak’ and take note of the total and would tell the number to the ‘Mukhyia Shikshak’. If there was any ‘Karyawah’ (secretary) or some senior standing across him he would report this number to him. After that very swaymsevak would go to the center where one poll and ‘dwaj’ (Saffron flag) was placed, he would hoist the flag on the pole and fixed the pole in the hole meant for this and would give ‘parnam’ (salute) to the ‘dwaj’ and come back. The ‘mukhyia shikshak’ would ask all the ‘swaymsevaks’ for the ‘Dwaj Parnam’ and would ask for their disbursement, The each ‘varg’ had a ‘shikshak’ (instructor) who would take his ‘verg’  to different places specified for each ‘varg’ and play under his direction. If there is any ‘charcha’ (discussion) or ‘bodhak’ (lecture) from some one then would reassemble about 30 minutes before the final disbursement, otherwise a whistle was used to be blown a five minutes before the disbursement. Now the ‘gutniaks’ would come in the front line and the swaymsevak would stand behind their ‘gutniaks’. Again number was taken as it was done in the beginning and there would be ‘Prathna’ (prayer) and Dwaj Parnam and the Dwaj would be taken from the pole and kept in small cotton bag. There will be ‘vikar’ (final disbursement) While the ‘varg’ for playing and charcha was age wise or class wise and the ‘gats’ were area wise. To create more interest they used to tell a short portion of story from the book ‘Singh Garh Vijay’ of Bankim Chander Chattoupadaya and would stop at the climax so that the eagerness to listen its further developments remained. This story telling session used to be after ‘vikar’ as the ‘shakha’ was to start and end at dot. There used to be 40 to 50 swaymsevaks every day. There were four ‘guts’ and three ‘vergs’. Two of the swaymsevaks Mohinder and Varinder who had broad chests were good players of ‘Kabadi’ and they joined Defence services.  Once when they came on leave we visited them at their house at Tranka wala bazaar. (Varinder Sahani was  the ‘Sangh Chalak’ of Yamuna Nagar District)  There was another Swaymsevk who joined medical college at Lahore and we used to visit his house at Tranka wala bazaar when he used to come on leave.

Vishwa Mitter and then Kulbhushan was our Mukhyia Shikshaks in succession. Vishwa Mitter Bhatia’s father was General Secretary of the India National Congress of Rawalpindi but all his sons, Wishesar Nath, Vishwa Mitter, Sudarshan, and Om Parkash (Naughty) were staunch workers of RSS. Kulbhushan’s father was Executive Officer of Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation. Most of the swaymsevaks were college or school students. Rajinder Bhagat was the local Karyawah (Secretary). Basant Rao ji Agrekar was the District ‘Parcharak’. Later Dr. Harbans Lal ji succeeded him in the last days in Rawalpindi. Manohar Rao Kharke a short stature was the local ‘Pracharak’, Ranbir Sahni a leading advocate was the local  ‘Sangh chalak’. Prant Sangh Chalk was Dewan Badri Dass a very seniors and renown advocate of Lahore (who  successfully fought the case of  Shish-gang Gurdwara) Madhav Rao Muley was the ‘Prant Pracharak’. Bala Rao ji Devras was All India Bodhak Parmukh. Madhav Rao Sada Shiv Golwalkar was the ‘Sar Sangh Chalk’. Dev Raj  Shastri was looking after Frontier. (I met Dr. Harbans Lal  at Delhi and Basant Rao Agrekar at Agra where he joined M.Sc. (Agriculture) after India’s partition.).

After a few months a new Shakha at ‘Bara Dari’ Govt. school started which was closer to ours house and we started going there. Balraj  was the ‘Mukhiya Shikshak’. After some times new Shakha was opened at  Qila’ in Govt. school. This was again nearer to our house. Harbans Lal  Oberai was the ‘Mukhya Shikshak’. I was one of the ‘gut niaks’.

There used to be efficiency class on Sunday morning at S.D.School. I used to attend this class also. There used to be gut meetings which were normally taken by the ‘Mukhya Shikshak’. Once, in ‘gut’ meeting at my residence inadvertently some un-parliamentarian words were spoken by Harbans Lal  and I took very serious of it and stopped going to ‘Shakha’ and instead we started parallel ‘Shakha’ at the court yard of one big house. Some seniors intervene and after a few months we agreed to join the ‘Shakha’ again. After Qila Shakha I joined ‘Dingi Khui’ ‘Shakha’   which was opened anew. This was a BAL Shakha and I was the ‘Mukhya Shikshak’ here. This ‘Shakha’ was close to Raja Bazaar and just behind the Sanskrit Mahavidayala. I was studying in the 10th class.

One day one ‘Adikari’ (Senior) came there and there was charcha (discussions). The topic of the charcha was ‘ which profession is most important for the nation’. Every ‘swaymsevak’ gave his view. Some said Doctor who protects us for the disease, the other said teacher who educates us, the other said soldier who protects us from the attack of the enemy and so on. Every profession was discussed in thread bare and its importance for the national uplift. Ultimately it was concluded that every professions was equally important for the uplift the society and the nation. The need was the sincerity and devotion. Whatever job or profession we adopt it should be done with sincerity and devotion, keeping in mind it is for the nation and the society. This discussion had great imprint on my mind and while in service I kept the outcome of the discussion in mind.

As I can recall, I attended two Shard Shivers (Winter Camps) of three days each. The first was at ‘Gurukul’. It was at a secluded place at the out skirt of Rawalpindi. There more than 100 ‘Swaymsevks’ and ‘Shikshaks’. With all other scheduled Programme of games, Lazium, ‘Bhashans’, Charcha on the 2nd day before noon the swaymsevks were divided into two groups. There was one dry hillock. It was a game of.’Singh Garh Vijay’. One group was occupying the hill and the other group was to take over the hill. I was in the later group. There was stiff resistance from the other group. Even Though it was winter ascending on hill was perspiring. On the 2nd night I was assigned with the duties of guarding the ‘langar’ (community Kitchen) from 12, O’clock in the night to 2 A.M. It was in at secluded place nothing was visible except the bushes, even the ‘Gurukul’ building was far away. I was given a whistle to blow after regular intervals,  especially when I was to hear whistle blowing from the other guard from an unknown place,  so ensure that we all were alert and also to ensure that we were safe. It was a pitch dark and every bush was giving a look of the ghost. The trembling of the bushes was horrifying. Far away the lone trees were seemingly running to me like a devil in the darkness. I was already coward boy. I was turning my body every second fearing some one was coming from the other side. There was no protection from any side only ‘Shamiana’ and ‘kanats’ were there which were also adding to the agony.  I was counting every second but every second was like an hour. I heaved a sigh of relief when my reliever came. I straight went to the camp but not without fear that some one chasing me. It was a horrible experience.

Though I laid down on the bed but I could not get a wink of sleep, the scene of the ‘langar’ were hovering on my mind. It must be around 4 A.M.,  when I was still struggling for the sleep, there was number of long whistles. It was signal of danger. We were asked to come out in the compound in uniform immediately. I was already very tired but I could not be spared. There was no latitude in discipline. Every body assembled on the ground. We were told that one of the ‘swaymsevaks’  guarding at the langar (where earlier I was at duty) had been kidnapped. Every one in their ‘verg’ should go all around with their shikshak who had torch in his hand to trace him.  The directions for each verg were given. For about an hour we were roaming in the jungle when we heard repeated whistles indicating to return. All the ‘swaymsevaks’ were on the ground again. We were told that a few people had lifted the ‘Swaymsevak’ from the langar despite his stiff resistance but he was taken away forcibly and in the process he had received many injuries and he was found lying in the jungle. He had been brought back and  was getting treatment and first aid from the Doctor. After about half an hour a ‘swaymsevak’ with bandage on his head, arm and legs was presented on the dais. In mean time it was dawn and we had to get ready for the day programme. In the evening I returned home very tired and horrified as that was the last day of the shiver. Later I came to know that that was a mock exercise.

The second, three days ‘Shard Shiver’ I attended was at Hamirpur in J&K. From Rawalpindi we went to  Jehelam by Rail and from Railway station we went to Patan (the bank of Jehlam River) by Tongas. On reaching Patan it was already dusk. We crossed the River Jehalam by boat. When we reached the other side of the river it was already dark. Here a camel was waiting for us. We loaded our luggage on the back of the camel. As I was the youngest of the all, I was asked to sit on the camel over the luggage. All other ‘Swamsevks’ walked to ward Hamirpur. The ‘Shiver’ (Camp) was before the Hamirpur city at its skirt. Exactly I don’t remember but the ‘shiver’ must be more than ten miles from the bank of the Jehlam River. This was my first experience to ride of the back of the camel. The bones of my body were shaken very badly. My body was so shaken that I neither could sit nor could get down Some times I was using my hands as shakers. Very late at night my camel reached the camp and I was taken to one of the rooms. I was unable to lie down because of acute pain in my bones. Though I slept at night but was unable to attend the Camp programme properly for the coming three days.

ITC AT PHAGWARA: In those days ITC used to be for fifteen days. I was studying in 9th class. The year was 1946. The ITC was at Phagwara (District Kapurthala) for the Punjab Province (For RSS Punjab was from Peshawar to Delhi including Punjab, J&K and Himachal). I wanted to attend this ITC but my father was not agreeing to it. Ramesh Kohli (Billu) s/o Roshan Kohli (maternal cousin of my father) was also interested in attending this ITC. His parents were also not willing to send him. My father agreed to allow me to go if Billu was going. Ultimately we both decided to take the help from Ranbir Sahni a prominent Advocate and who was ‘Sangh Chalk’ of Rawalpindi. He was residing just opposite to Company Bagh, close to my father’s maternal house and both the families were well connected. It was he who persuaded my uncle Roshan Lal Kohli to allow both of us to go. From Rawalpindi we boarded train for Phagwara (in East Punjab) via Lahore, Amritsar, and Jallandhar. We reached Phagwara by noon. From Phagwara Railway Station we were taken to one ‘Srai’ a little far away from the city by Tongas. It was a very big ‘Srai’. There were many rooms in the ‘srai’ surrounded a very big square compound, which was sufficient for the participation of the swaymsevks. There number must be around 100. There was sufficient place for the each ‘verg’ to play. Each room was independent. Before dawn we were required to leave the bed when there were two long whistles. Our room in charge (vaas naik) used to make us to leave the bed. We were supposed to go for latrine in the open fields. After getting free from it there used to assemble for games for about an hour then we were to be in lines to take our breakfast. The break fast used to be of ‘Dalia’ or fried grams with milk. We were required to take our utensils with us for getting the break fast. After taking the break fast we were to go the tube well where the water was running and we used to clean our utensils there and place them to our room. After ‘alpaar’ (Break fast) there was a regular ‘shakha’.  Assembly was verg wise, There was hoisting of Dwaj and Parnam. The ‘Dwaj’ (flag) remained hoisted till evening ‘Parathna’. Two ‘Swaymsevks’ were posted on guarding duty in rotation at the gate.

Then every verg was taken to the already decided sites in the compound. There were regular games, ‘Kabadi’, ‘kho kho’, ‘Yog chaps’ (Lezium) and ‘Lathi Parhar’ (fighting with bamboo sticks). Different steps were taught for the ‘lathi parhars’. Each verg was to take different items/games at one time and they were to change the game/item after every whistle.  Till noon this physical exercises used to continue. After that there was disbursement for taking bath and washing our clothes at the tube well for about an hour. In the meanwhile there was whistle for the Lunch. Every ‘swaymsevk’ would bring its utensils and sit in row. Each row had a different distributing team; each distributing ‘swaymsevk’ of the team was to handle one dish, roti, rice and water. The distributing team will start the distribution on the whistle. When the distribution was complete then there used to be one ‘mantra’Om sena bhawto…….’ and after the completion of this ‘mantra’ the ‘swaymsevks’ would start taking their meals. After every body had completed his meal there would be whistle for disbursement and cleaning of our utensils. Every body would go to the tube-well and would clean his utensils and would go to their room for rest for one hour.

After having taken rest, there would again be whistle for gathering in a pandal/hall for ‘Bodhak’ (lecture) from a senior. This used to be for an hour or so. Now there is time for the evening Shakha. Different games were played by different vergs. Now it was time for Parathna, Dwaj Parnam retreating and for disbursement. There was time for individual meeting and introduction, if some time was left for between the dinners. The dinner used to be on lunch patron and then cleaning of our utensils. After the dinner, there used to be either ‘Bhashan’ (Lecture), briefing or ‘charcha’ (Discussion). At about 10 O’clock every body was supposed to be on the bed, after the long whistle and the room lights were switched off. All most, this was the routine for the fifteen days. The routine was so busy that one cannot think of out side world or own home. On the fifteenth day there was final disbursement. A day before the disbursement there was ‘vinod sabha’ (cultural programme) at night.

All the expenses of meals, fares etc, were to be born by the Individual swaymsevk. The uniform (dress) of R.S.S. was special khaki starched nicker (half pent) and white full sleeves starched shirt (The sleeves were required to be folded up to the half arms), broad brown leather belt with brass buckle, Black cap and white fleets with blue socks. For special gatherings and route march the Long Black military shoes,  Khaki woolen strips and feet less long woolen socks were used. (These were abandoned subsequently). We used to use Brasso (a liquid for shinning the brass) buckles.

GURU JI’s VISIT: Once Guru ji (M.S. Golwalker) visited Rawalpindi. There was a very big gathering at S.D.School. The big ground of the school was full with the swaymsevks lined in full uniform and large number of special invitees. A beautiful specially designed invitation card was given to the invitees. (I kept one card for long time even after partition but it was lost some where recently) It was like a mini Ram Lilla Ground of Delhi but better managed and giving far better look and show. With the long whistle the arrival of Guru Ji was singled and every swaymsevk was standing attention. Guru Ji was seen walking with grace to ward the dais, putting his one hand on the shoulders of Rajinder Bhagat who was Karyawah of Rawalpindi. (Bhagat  settled at Jagadhri after partition and was Karyawah there also. He was teacher in S.D.School at Jagadhri).  

The R.S.S. AS I UNDERSTOOD: It was very disciplined organisation which was inculcating patriotism and selfless service to the nation especially to Hindu Samaj irrespective of caste and creed. The stress was given on ‘Vyakti Nirman’ (character building). There was no position or ranks in the organisation. All the ‘swaymsevks’ were equal and had the equal respect for each other. The ‘swaymsevk’ with caliber and who could devote time were given ‘zimewari’ (responsibility) and not the position. There was no distinction between the rich or the poor. The class IV employee could had the ‘zimewari; (responsibility) according to his caliber and time he could devout. There was no subscription or donation. For attending the function and for getting his uniform the expenditure was to be borne by the ‘swaymsevk’ himself.  There was no central fund from which one could be helped. If the ‘swaymsevks’ was week in studies he was helped to some extend by the brilliant ‘swaymsevks’.  Welfare of the ‘swaymsevks’ were kept always in view. If any ‘swaymsevk’ did not come to Shakha without information or was sick the ‘gatniak’ and some other ‘swaymsevks’ used to visit him at his house after ‘Shakha’ hours to look after him. The ‘mukhya shikshak’ used to visit the absentee and perspective ‘swaymseveks’ also. It was known as ‘hunting’. If the swaymsevk was sick, the other swaymsevk used to visit him to enquire about his health and render him help if necessary.

There used to be ‘Sahbhoj  (community lunch), where every swaymsevk used to bring his own meal and if required one extra meal and these meals are put together.  After some programme, if there was any, this mixed meal was distributed among the ‘swaymsevks’. As said, there was no subscription for becoming the swaymsevk of the Sangh. The Swaymsevk has to bear all the expenses of his uniform, traveling and camps, and also for any other function organised for the ‘Swaymsevks. In very rare cases if any swaymsevk could not meat expenses for any occasion, he was helped collectively by other co-swaymsevks voluntarily. For want of money he was not left out.  When ever any ‘Prachak’ or ‘Karya karta’ or ‘Adhikari’ used to visit  the town he was generally entertained at some important person’s house, who had appreciation for the RSS. Not only to saves expenses but to get an opportunity to bring that person closer to RSS. Other wise the ‘Prachaks’ were not paid any salary but they them selves voluntarily leave their houses to serve the cause. However, his basic needs of life were met by the organisation. To meet the organisational expenses there was ‘Guru Dakshina System. The ‘Guru Dakshina’ was celebrated once in a year during ‘Guru Punima’ days and the swaymsevks  used come in white clothes with Sangh cap and present the amount wrapped in a envelop before the ‘Dwaj’ who was considered as Guru. There was no pressure for giving any certain amount. The amount offered by the swaymsevks were  never made public. There was no mark or indication on the envelop even. There was no discrimination on account of the big or small amount offered by the Swaymsevks and no responsibility (position/rank) was given on this basis. The responsibility was given  according to the caliber and quantum of time one could devote. It was taught that we should be the foundations and not the charming building on it. The song which had a great impact on my mind and character was ‘Kankar Pathar ban kar hum ko Rashtra neev ko bhar-na hai, Pehanu ga swagat sahar, chhor chalo yai shudra bhavna, Kankar……..’ Though out my life I remained as worker and used to give credit to others for my achievements  even when I was at high position in the  service also. These very ideals made  me popular and successful in my career.

VICHAR DHARA (philosophy as I understood):  During the course of  ‘charcha ’ (discussions) number of questions were raised and replied by ‘Adhikaris’ (seniors) were: Some of them were:

1- What is the ultimate aim of the Sangh? -The ‘sangathan’ (unity) of the Hindus, irrespective of their caste and creed and irrespective of their mode of worship. Unity with hatred to none. Hindu always thinks and acts for the welfare of all the human beings and in the prayer of every sect, you find they utter in the end  “Sarve bhavantu sukhi naam— , Wishv ka kalyan ho, Pranio mai sadh bhavna”. All our holy books speaks for the welfare of humanity and  you cannot single out any ‘granths’ (holy-book) which asks God for Hindus only. Instead of ‘Hindu’ it is used ‘Manav’ (humanity).

2- Why this unity is needed? – There were small and big rajas (kings) ruling in different parts of the country and they were fighting with each-other for their own supremacy and there was no unity among them even when their were foreign attacks. For centuries the Hindus had suffered humiliation and atrocities  at hands of the invaders. There were mass forced conversions and humiliations to women folk. The History tells that the Hindus had never attacked any country for lust of power, money and women. If the Hindus are united no power can dare to  or humiliate us.  If we do physical exercise, we do it keep our selves mentally and physical fit and not to attack any one.  At the same time no one would dare to attack the strong and fit. On the other hand the weak is prone to such attack.  Our ‘Dharma’ says live and let other live. Our ‘Dharma’ wishes for the welfare of all  the human beings and we can verify this fact from the sayings in any of our holy books. We are to become strong not to attack any one but to protect .

3- Why unity of Hindus only:-Because Hindus have identified them selves with the welfare of the nation and country.

4-Who are the Hindus? – All the persons who accept India as their ‘Matriaya Bhumi’ (mother land), ‘Pitri Bhumi’ (place of their ancestors) and ‘Puniaya Bhumi’ (the place of their worship) are Hindus.

5- Can non Hindus be allowed to join this organisation?-The Sangh has no objection if they accept these ideals.

6-Why there is necessity of daily attending Shakha daily?. Daily attending the shakha make the swaymsevaks mentally and physically fit and disciplined.

7- Are we against any religion?Strengthening ourselves  mentally and psychically is for our survival,  not to hating any religion nor for attacking any one but being a strong, we will be able to defend our identity . No body can dare to attack the strongman. The daily attending of the Shakha shapes the individual mentally and physically fit . The nation needs discipline, sincerity. devotion and dedication in which ever profession we are and to which ever mode worship we adopt. We are born Hindus and should keep our identity and go on doing  good for the welfare of the world. These were  some broad principles given by its founder Dr. Kesho Ram Bali Ram Hedgwar and which influenced me.

8- RSS will be disbursed after attaining the Independence? No, RSS will continue to function as its Aim is unite the Hindu Samaj (Sangh-E-Shakti Kaliyuge) and Vyakti Nirmaan (Character Building) is a continuous process.

9- Are we to hate our Opponent? No, they are the Swyamsewak of tomorrow. 

“God can be realizes through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.” 

– Ramakrishna

Due to these inspirations only, I worked honestly and devotedly in my service and was successful and as still caring the same warmth of my colleagues even after retirement.

INDIA PARTITION AND RIOTS: I was preparing my annual examination  of matric (10th)  at ‘Sardara Da Bagh.  as my examination was to start in the 2nd week of March. It was fore noon and beginning of March 1947, suddenly, there was commotion people started running hither and thither. I was all alone and got confused what was happening. I asked one of the running man what had happened. while running, he told me that  Hindu-Muslim riots had started. I also got panicked and ran toward my house as the area surrounding Sardara Ka Bagh was predominately Muslim and their main masjid (Jama Masjid) was just behind the bagh. While running back , on the way, I found  People were running here and there in panic. The shops were shutting down. By the time I reached Bazaar Sarafan it was already closed and giving a deserted look. At home, I found my parents were very much worried . They had a sigh of relief when I reached.

The riot became very sever; every one was running to his own localities. If any one was caught in the wrong area, he was slaughtered. There was loot every where. Rawalpindi city was mainly dominated by Hindus and they had the main business stake. In the surrounding villages also where the Muslim were in majority . Thousands of Hindus men, women and children were slaughtered. Their shops were looted  and It continued for many days. Every one was confined to his area. The Hindus who were living in the Muslim area or were either murdered or lucky could escape without their belongings.  However some Muslims saved their Hindu neighbors  and vice versa.  Mostly the Muslim attackers were from other localities. The rumors were pouring in how the women  were being snatched and taken away  force-ably from their families.  People were to eat whatever was little available in their homes. The mob was attacking in the outer areas. The Military and Police was not seen any where. We were left at the mercy of God. Thank God there was no mob came to our area.

Subsequently, one book with live photographs was also brought out with the title ‘RAPE OF RAWALPINDI’. I bought this book but it was lost. Ultimately our examinations were postponed  probably to June, The partition of India was already declared, but the fate of Lahore which was predominately Hindu area was kept on hook. A few days before the country was to be partitioned it was declared that Lahore would go to Pakistan. I learnt this on Radio when I was at Chhitia Hatiia (locality) to take medicine from Hakim Moti Ram. Hindus were very much disappointed though it did not effect us because our fate had already  been decided as Rawalpindi was decidedly part of Pakistan.

From Delhi one Urdu paper ‘Sangram’ was published which asked all the Hindus who were residing in Pakistani area to hoist Saffron Flags at their houses on 14th August 1947 the day on which Pakistan would come to existence as a protest. I was the lone Hindu in the area who decided to hoist the Saffron flag at the top of my house. I took out long stick and tight the saffron cloth on the top and put the  stick in a earthen pot and put that on the boundary wall facing bazaar Sarafan. Luck would have been, a strong wind began to blow and the Pot along with flag fell in the main bazaar. Thank God no one was hurt as bazaar was deserted which otherwise it was the one to the busiest bazaars. A few months back we had shifted on the first floor of our shop in the the bazaar leaving the house of Mohalla Shah Chancharag.

We were suggested by RSS official to persuade our parents to migrate to J & K. Now I think how far sighted their thinking was. Had the Hindus from Rawalpindi and Frontier shifted  to Kashmir and settled there, the demography of Kashmir would have changed and there would have no problem of Kashmir.

Our annual 10th exam was held in D.A.V. College in some times in June. The attendance in the examination hall was very thin as many families had already shifted to India. Later our own family members like my grand parents, my Rani Bhua, my cousin Krishan, my younger sisters Kamla and Nirmal and my brother Inder had shifted to Palampur temporarily. We were waiting for the situation to normalise. It was thought even after the partition the things would become normal and then we would continue to live in Rawalpindi.  But the situation was becoming worse day by day. All the business establishments were closed. People were confined to their fore walls.

In between, Kale Khan a Muslim League MLA from Rawalpindi came to my father and asked him to sell the Murree and Rawalpindi shops to him and sign the sale deeds.  Kale Khan was well known to my father but the problem was that the ownership of both the shops were in the name of his maternal uncle’s family. My father had no authority to sell them but Kale Khan was very influential man, being a Muslim League M.L.A, he persuaded him to sign the sale deeds of both the shops and it was his responsibility to get them legalised. My father had no option but to submit. Even otherwise also the shops were to be left over locked in Pakistan. Ultimately, the amount was settled which was much less to the market rates. My father wanted that he should be given bank draft instead of Cash to which he finally agreed. (As keeping of cash could invite life risk from any one even from Kale Khan also, as  inevitably, our mind was running to wrong side even though Kale Khan was his friend for the last many years). Kale Khan brought the sale deeds. He took him to Rawalpindi Courts and got his signatures on the sale deeds of Rawalpindi shop and gave him the Bank Demand drafts on State Bank of India payable at Dehra Dun in the name of Brij Rani Kohli widow of my father’s maternal uncle .  While there was no problem for signing of the sale deed of Rawalpindi shop but for Murree shop he was required to go Murree for which there was strong resistance from all the members of our family and we never wanted that he should go Murree alone with Kale Khan. Kale Khan sensing our apprehension he assured our family that they should have faith on him as he was his friend also and he would bring him back safe, Ultimately we had to yield and  he came in his car and took him to Murree. The whole day was very tense for us till he returned in the evening.

It was becoming clear that Hindus had to vacate the territory now called as Pakistan. Later we were asked by the local administration to shift to some concentrated Hindus areas for their own safety. People were waiting for some help for transporting them to the  newly made India called free India. However, we shifted to a nearby Mohalla in the house of Prem Bhasin (a distinct relative). There was no police or military beat in the area. We had a community kitchen. For our shifting to India we were depending on Malliak Harbans Lal. One day a soldier of Gorkha Regiment came to us and told us that a military truck from Palampur had come and any two of us can accompany  them to Palampur.  Malick Harbans Lal was Military contractor of 7th Gorkha Regiment at Palampur and was elder brother of my eldest Bhua Janki’s husband Malick Chuni Lal. As there were only two seats available it was decided by the families that I along with Som Bhasin, brother of Prem Bhasin  should go in the military truck.

I bade good bye to my Rawalpindi forever. At night we were to stay at Lahore at their military camp. When we reached Lahore In the evening one of the soldier asked me that if I wanted to visit Lahore City I could accompany them.  I was unmindful while I was getting ready and taking off my cloths, the soldier saw a ‘kamani wala chaku’  (automatic big knife) tied on my legs. The soldier was surprised and stunned to see it. But before I could give my explanation, he bucked me up and appreciated my courage. Before leaving Rawalpindi I had tied this knife with my one of the legs for my protection. I went with the soldiers in Lahore city as they were to deliver meal to their colleagues  in other camps. Though it was a hurried drive in the city I found the life was very normal for those who were living there now what they were called Pakistani. Next evening we reached Palampur via Amritsar , Pathankot and bade Good bye to our mother land which was now known as Pakistan. At Palampur also the life was very normal for those who were living on this side. We left our heritage, centuries old land of our forefathers.  Our social fabric was shattered. Our hard earned identity was misplaced, now to be called as ‘refugees’. 

From left to right My sisters Nirmal, Kamla my mother my cousin Krishan Gopal Anand, bothers Inder siting lest, Vijay in mother's lap/ g left Anand
From left to right My sister Nirmal, Kamla, my mother with Vijay brother in her lap, causin Krishan  Gopal Anand.  My bothers Inder sitting on left and  Ashok standing behind just before partition of India
With friends Rameshwar, Charanjeev Shastry, me  and Nand Kishore just before partition of India.
Ashok and Vijay just before partition of India
The house where I was born. The entrance (Deoudi) converted into a commercial Complex. 

 

CHAPTER-II I reached Palampur leaving behind my mother

I reached Palampur leaving behind my mother, father and two brothers, Askok and Vijay at Rawalpindi. All the members of our family were very happy to receive me but they all were worried about the left out members of our family. Nothing could be done except to pursue with Malick Harbans Lal to get them to India at the earliest, as in normal course there was uncertainty and risk also. Reaching here I found the Life here was  quite normal as if nothing had happened unusual in the country. Our suffering were confined to us. Our emotional sufferings were comparatively more than that  of financial. We never thought that one day  there will be a storm and we will be uprooted like helpless vegetation. We had left our heritage, centuries old land of our forefathers.  Our social fabric was shattered. Our hard earned identity was lost, now to be called Refugees and to start a new life in India without much of money. Hardly six months back we came Palampur in connection with the marriage of my cousin Swaran  and went back, never knowing that we would have to come again after leaving our home as helpless creatures to be called as refugees.

While coming from Rawalpindi my father gave me a small amount which I deposited with Himalaya Bank Limited which was close to our residence and the Bank accepted me as their customer even though I was under age. This was my first experience to deal with a Bank. This small amount was just for our existence for a few months.

Malliack Harbans Lal had already arranged a house for our extended family which was left by Chirag Din, a Muslim family. My grand-parents with my brother (Inder) and sisters (Kamla and Nirmal), my chacha Baldev, Bhua Rani and his son krishan were living in the house. For my Daya Bhua and her husband Om Parkash Kochhar who had come from Lahore, Mallick ji had also arranged an accommodation for them at Bandla in the kothi of Brij Bihari Butel the owner of Bandla Tea Estate. My brother Inder complained me that he and our family members were not treated well by other members of my grand-parents family and there was some discrimination to ward them. I tackled him and made our family members to understand the situation and to accept it under which they were and tried to keep their moral high in absence of our parents.

I had nothing to do whole day expect to take round of the bazaar or sit home. Uncle Baldev and my brother sometime used to play the play cards for which I had no interest. In the evening we used to go for walk either to Bhua Janki’s house or to Nugal khad just to pass the time.  Before coming from Rawalpindi I had appeared in the matric  (10th) exam from Punjab University Lahore. It was not excepted that we would  be getting the result as Punjab University, Lahore had gone to Pakistan. Moreover, it would have taken one month more to prepare the results. Outwardly, we were composed but internally,  there was a storm and we were very much disturbed. My grand-father was old and uncle Baldev had no work to do. There was no source of any income to our extended parental family.

As I had RSS back ground it was not difficult for me to get my self introduced to the locals.  Jagat Ram who had a grocery shop was the first swaymsevak to be introduced to me. His residence was just behind his shop. RSS ‘karyala’ (office) was also in the same building. Kewl Krisan of Batala was the ‘Tehsil Parchark’. Initially, I used to devote my time at his shop whenever I have nothing else to do. Subsequently I was introduced to other swaymsevaks also. There was one photo studio just opposite to his shop; I was introduced to its owner, Chopra. He encouraged me to come to his shop and learn photography and I started learning the photography. I learnt the art of developing the films and making copy the photo prints form the negatives. There was no electricity at Palampur. For printing the photo copies he had developed an indigenous solar System. He used to put one looking glass facing the Sun to receive its rays and then to pass them on the printing apparatus.  When there was no Sun the  printing was not possible. I purchased one box camera (Kodak) and used to take the photographs as pass time. Notable photos which were taken by me were:  My grandfather inhaling ‘Huka’, Vijay my younger brother one time was inhaling grand father’s ‘Huka’, All the family members sitting on a cart in the street, cloth beater (of wood) raised by Rani Bhua as if she was going to beat some one while washing the clothes at the ‘Khad’ (rivulet).

Mallick Harbans lal was brother of my Uncle Mallick Chuni Lal (husband of my eldest bhua Janki). He was military contractor at 7th Gorkha Regiment. He was very influential man in the town. It was he who brought us here in two installments and even now he was the only hope for bringing my father, mother and two brothers and his own relations Prem Bhasin and others from Rawalpindi. The other important personalities of the town were Pt. Amar Nath, Jai Chand the congress leaders . Pt. Amar Nath was also President of Sanatam Dharam Sabha and S.D. School and Jai Chand had a news paper agency at the Bus Stand. The other important persons of the town were J.P. Nanda; advocate who was ‘Tehsil Sangh Chalak’ of RSS  and was residing just behind the Chopra Photo Studio. Across the Khad (small hilly rivulet) was Dr. Jhangi whose one son was an advocate and his other son, Satish was our swaymsevak. Palampur was the Tehsil Head Quarter in Kangra District which was in Punjab those days. Subsequently when Himachal Pradesh came into existence Kangara District was amalgamated in Himachal Pradesh.

I started evening ‘Bal Shakha ‘ and I was the ‘Karyavah’. The number at the Shakha used to be around 10 to 15. During those days  Apte ji who was All India ‘Bodhak Parmukh’ was to visit Dharamshala, the Head Quarter of Kangra District.  There was no direct bus service for Dharamshala. We took bus for Kangara and alighted at the Pathankot -Dharamshala crossing and took another bus for Dharamshala. RSS programme was in the evening. When the programme ended it was already dusk. Karam Chand who was a swaymsevak of morning Shakha of Palampur was with me. After the disbursement he said to me “Let us go to Palampur on foot”. I agreed to his proposal and we started our hilly journey for Palampur on foot via Yol Camp. Yol Camp was a military Head Quarter and earlier it was a concentration camp for the war prisoners during the World war. Up to Yol Camp the journey was descending and we had no problem except the distance. It was already night when we crossed Yol Camp. At every rivulet Karam Chand used to help me to cross it as the water was very icy and its flow was very fast. After crossing one rivulet there was one small village, here he stopped me. There was a complete silence in the village as it was very late at night in the winter. He told me, as it was very late and we should stay here. He also told me that he had one close relative here who would not mind our staying over night. I agreed to his proposal as I was also feeling very much tired after walking a long distance. We stopped at one house and he knocked its door. One middle aged man emerged. He immediately recognised Karam Cand and asked us to come inside. He took us in one room just close to the main gate, we sat there and the host brought a kerosene lamp. I sat on the cart but after some times both left the room. Probably Karam Chand went inside to meet his other relatives in the house. After some times both of them came in with two buckets. They brought two ‘rajaies’ (quilts) for us. Two carts with beds were already there. His relative left us alone after closing the door. Karam Chand brought one bucket before me and asked to dip my feet in that bucket. When I put my feet I felt a little burning sensation but a little after that I felt that my feet had accepted the temperature of the boiling water. There after it had the soothing effect and I was feeling very comfortable. After about 15 minutes he asked me that I could take my feet out the bucket. He gave me a towel to wipe the wet feet and asked to wear socks and told me to sleep now.

It was still dark in the morning when he asked me to get up and told me that we were in a half way to Palampur. I think he told me the distance between Dharamshala and Palampur was about 30 miles. I got up immediately. I was feeling fresh. A dip in hot water had a miracle effects and we restarted our journey for Palampur. After walking some distance the darkness was already over. We  reached Palampur  forenoon.

In the evening ‘Shakha’ Jaswant Singh was the ‘mukhyia shikshak’. As most of ‘syamsevaks’ were students of local St. Paul High School and were from the villages, The timing of the ‘Shakha’ we set in such a way so that the village ‘swaymsevaks’ could reach home before dusk. Jaswant Singh and his brother Vimal were also from a village

I must have crossed my 17th birthday (after completing my 16 years). Diwali festival was fast approaching but still there was no sign of my parents’ to get out of Rawalpindi. We were constantly in touch with Mallick Sahib. He was assuring us that he already had a talk with the commending officer of the unit and he had assured to send the military truck to Rawalpindi first when any of the truck would come from Lahore. We were listening  news on All India Radio daily, especially if there was any news from Rawalpindi but the news were usual. One day suddenly Mallick Sahib came and told us that a military truck had left Lahore for Rawalpindi and our parents would be here within a couple of days. Diwali was yet to come but Diwali had come and our parents with my two brothers joined us before Diwali.

I had appeared in the metric (10th) exam at Rawalpindi but the result was not known, since immediately after the exams partition of the country had became reality and the Panjab University which took our exams was now in Pakistan. However,The Punjab Government in India had opened East Panjab University at Solan (now in H.P). I approached East Punjab University at Solan for my result, taking that the copies of our result might have been transferred to India, but their reply was that  since our examination record was at Lahore (Pakistan), I could contact them direct. I took up the matter with the Panjab University, Lahore expecting that they would not reply as it was now different country. To my surprise, one day I received one envelop from the Panjab University, Lahore containing a printed matter, indicating that the names of the three particular papers which were not traceable. These three papers were out of the total 12 papers in which I appeared at Rawalpindi Center, but one of papers ticked was not relating to my subject . It was now apparent that I would not be able to get matric certificate. I was much disturbed, thinking that I would now never be able to complete my 10th even, which was considered a reasonable qualification in those days and if one was much enthusiastic he would get admission in the college to get F.A. or B.A. degree. Service was never in mind. If one had passed in 2nd division  it was considered sufficient for getting a service in some Government department as a clerk.  1st divisions were the exceptions. So far it never occurred what I would be doing after 10th.

Now when I was not a matriculate even. My mind was hovering, what should  I do. I had no books, no tutor, no guidance when mentally and financially we were much disturbed.  Suddenly, one day a notification from the East Panjab University, Solan appeared  in the Daily Tribune, Ambala, telling that the students who had appeared in matric, intermediate, or for graduation from the Punjab University Lahore and they could not get the results, can get certificates/degrees after doing some social service  in the aid of the refugees  and after completion of the specified period of social service through recognised Schools and colleges and these certificates/degrees would be treated at par with the certificates/degrees of the candidates who  had actually appeared in the examination and passed. For this purpose they were required to get themselves registered with any recognised School or college. I immediately approached St. Paul High School and met its Principal Mr. T.N. Duston. Mr. Duston was very nice and  sympathetic and he met me with a smiling face. I spoke to him in broken English as the language was still foreign to me.

I got my self registered with St. Paul High School and they made a team to collect funds from the villages in the aid of refugees. I was made leader of the team. We visited various villages which were more or less small hamlets on the hills on foot for over a fortnight. It was sort of hill expedition. Whatever funds we collected were handed over to the School authorities. After a few days it was decided by the School that we should stage a drama in the aid of refugees to collect the funds. S. David, the Art teacher of the School was assigned with this job. He wrote the script and dialogue of the drama and also directed it.   The title of drama was ‘Bharat Matta Ki Pukar’  (The Call of India).  It took more that a fortnight to prepare for the Drama and it was staged at the cinema Hall of the 7th Gorkha regiment. The drama was just a verbal duel between the  heads of the two states,  Pakistan and India and not much of acting was involved. I acted as king of India and acted very gracefully. I took ‘Jari’ shirt and silken sari from Daya Bhua and used them as my dress as a king. The dress was giving perfect look for the character. I wore her shirt with ‘choridar’ Pajama and tight her sari on the head as ‘Pagri’ (turban). The glaring lights were so piercing on my eyes that I could not bear them and open my eyes and I was compelled to put my one hand on my fore head to protect from the glaring lights. Later I was told that my putting hand on my fore head in that way was giving the impression that I was in a serious thought over the situation. On the whole it was appreciated by the audience as there was subsequent demand from the unit commanding officer that the drama be replayed once again in their Hall as many soldiers and their families could not get the opportunity to see it.

The Drama was staged at 7th Gorkha Regiment in their cinema hall which was fully packed and it’s was main viewers were the families of the Jawans and officers. The demand for re-staging the drama in their unit was declined politely as objections were raised by Jai Chand, the Congress leader.  His objection was that there could not be a king of India as it was now a democratic country. The School authorities regretted the leaders and convince them that the king was shown as symbolic head of India and they had no intention to malign the democratic system of our country. The total collection was handed over to the government authorities by the School. Our forms were sent to the East Panjab University, Solan by the school after completing the schedule prescribed by the university and I got the matric certificate after some times which was equivalent to certificate issued for those who have actually took the University Exams.

The Diwali had passed and we were forgetting Rawalpindi and our past. In the evening we used to go for regular walk toward Nugal Khad. As told earlier, I was devoting some time at Chopra Studio and a few hours at Jagat Ram’s shop for gossiping. Once I was taken to Nugal Khad in the interior by Hanwant Singh, a relation of Mallick Harbans Lal, to teach me how to shoot the gun. He gave me his riffle and pressed the butt of the riffle on my right shoulder and told me to hold it tight with my left hand and I was asked to put right finger on striker. He further told me that while holding the riffle tight to my right shoulder I should pull the striker with the finger.  Accordingly I pulled the striker with my finger while holding the riffle tight to my right shoulder.  The sound of the shot was  very deafening and it echoed in the surrounding between the two hills, over roaring water of Nugal Khad. For miles there was no habitation. My whole body especially my legs were shaken. Though I did not disclosed, I felt my body was not strong enough to hold the gun.

My father was worried as we had no source of income. How long we would sit here without any work. Some thing was required to be done. There was no business at Palampur and there was no job of any sort even with private firms. However, he purchased one old truck in partnership with Uncle Mallick Chuni Lal. A driver was engaged but after a few months it was found that they were in loss as there was heavy expenditure on its repair. Ultimately it was sold at loss and he could not recover even half the money.

We were passing through a very crucial time. How we will survive in absence of any work was piercing of our mind and more over nothing was visible in future also. My father thought of going to Dehra Dun where his maternal uncle family had migrated. He wanted to explore if he could do any job there. The time and the situation was very frustrating.  Moreover, he was to hand over the two Banks drafts which he had brought from Rawalpindi as the sale proceeds of the Rawalpindi and Murree Shops. Ultimately he left for Dehradun.

It was 30th January, 1948 at night there was a sad news on All India Radio that Mahatma Gandhi had been shot dead. The shops were closed on the next day. The condolence procession started from The Sanatan Dharam Mandir which was closed to our house and reached Church at Mission Compound  via main bazaar. At church condolence meeting was held and a condolence resolution was  passed after the speeches of the various leaders of the town.

The very next day ban on RSS was imposed. Kewal Krishan was arrested by evening and was taken to Palampur Police station and was kept in lock up. I got the news that Kewal Krishan had been arrested. I got his night meals prepared and served him at the Palampur Police Station. Next morning he was shifted to Yol Camp which was converted into a big jail to accommodate a large number of the detainees.  I was cautioned by my relatives that I might be arrested and was advised to be careful. But there were no RSS activities after the ban. I remained busy in my other scheduled activities. I was not arrested and my relations told me that it was because of Mallick Harbans Lal.  But Mallick Sahib never talked to me on this issue whenever he met me. After a few days I got message from Kewal Krishan from Yol Camp that I should bring his clothes which were lying with Jagat Ram to Yol Jail. The day for meeting the prisoners was fixed. I went Yol Camp taking his belongings. I approached the receptionist and sought the permissions to meet him and told I wanted to deliver his clothes. He asked my relation with Kewal Krishan and I told him that I was his friend from Palampur. He told me that only blood relations were permitted to meet the prisoners. I had to come back disappointed and without delivering his clothes. I sent a message to him to this effect but I could never know whether he got my message or not as after a few days also left Palampur  for Dehra Dun with my father.

Palampur was Tehsil head quarter in Kangra district. It was very neat and clean. The surroundings were very pleasant. There was only one big Bazaar ascending from Palampur Police Station to J.P. Nanda’s house (Chopra Studio). If we ascend further, there was St. Paul High School, a Christen boys school, beyond it was the mission compound and a church. From here the road led to Bandla tea estate owned by Brij Bihari Butel and further to Nugal Khad. If we stand in the bazaar at the crossing facing the mountains we would see beautiful snow clad hill tops on the back of Palampur which could be seen almost though out the year. There used to be snow fall in the surrounding hills every winter and some times there was a snow fall in the town also. There were many tea gardens. Samuel Pal and Mili were husband and wife, residing in the Mission compound. My Bhua Janki, Mallick Harbans Lal and his migrated relatives were also living at the mission compound.  Samuel Paul was a Rajput by caste and was converted to Christianity and was Vice Principal of St. Paul High School ( later he became Principal of the School when Duston left)  His wife Mili was a Brahmin by caste was converted to Christianity and was Principal of the Christen Girls School. The Bus Stand of the Palampur was near the main bazaar just when the Pathankot-Kulu highway took bend on the right side from the main bazaar. There was kacha road parallel to the main bazaar staring from the bus stand and connecting the bazaar road just close to Nanda’s house. There was a narrow kacha path going toward Yol Camp after crossing the khad.  There was S.D.School and Dr. Jhangi and some other families were residing across the Khad but it was not fully inhabited area. Palampur had Railway Station also. But the railway station was on Road at Morinda which was about five miles toward Pathankot. This was a meter gauge railway line from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar but from Palampur to Joginder Nagar the railway track was suspended in those days. The Last Railway Station was Palampur (Morinda). From here bus services were available.

Captain Mulakh Raj Anand was my grand father’s massi son. He belonged to Bhalowal (Pakistan). I was told, my father used to go to this massi very often whom he used to call her tikia wali massi.’ Though he was under matric he joined army as a Recruiting Officer in the rank of Captain. Once he told me that when he applied for this post, the selecting committee questioned him, how he could be fit to get this job when he was under matric. He told me that his reply was that if Sir Sikandar Hayat could control the Punjab as Chief Minister with class 4 qualifications, why he could not control a District, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan was the Chief Minister of un-divided Punjab which then consisted of Punjab’s of Pakistan and India along with Haryana and Kangra District of Himachal Pardesh before Partition. Capt Mulakh Raj Anand was transferred from Gurdaspur to Kangra District with Palampur as his Head Quarter. Mandi and Saket States were also in his command area. He used to visit to our house very frequently as my grand father was his first cousin. In those days the Government used to pay two rupees to a middle man on the recruitment of each jawan. My Chacha Baldev had no work in those days and uncle Anand used to take him along on tours for assistance. He was provided with a jeep and staff also. They used to visit different places for recruitment. A days before their visit to a particular place, the announcement was made in the surroundings for the recruitment. When they used to reach at the place of recruitment a large crowd of young boys used to be there. There was unemployment and abundant of recruits were available. After their physical fitness they were selected. On each selection the amount of the middle man was given to chacha Baldev.

Once I also accompanied them to Saket. He went to meet Maharaja at his palace and took us there also. We were asked to sit in the visitor’s gallery. When Uncle was taken inside to meet the Maharaja he took out one hundred note in his hand. When he returned after meeting the Maharaja. I asked what he did with the one hundred note? Uncle disclosed that it was a British tradition when we meet any dignitary while shaking hand we used to keep one Hundred Rupee note which contained the Photo of the King of England in a palm and it meant that we had met the dignitary on behalf of His Highness (king).  Captain Anand was very caring and nice man. When he was posted here his family was at Gurdaspur, the place of his previous posting. From Palampur he was transferred to Meerut Cantt where I visited  him once.

My grandfather uncle (Chacha ji) was living at Morinda with his son Bihari Lal Sethi (who was married to Shanti).  Bihari Lal Sethi was a senior officer in the Railways (a first class pass holder) and he had his official kothi at Morinda. We used to go there to see him at Morinda on foot which must not be less then 3 miles from Palampur.

After the marriage of my bhua Daya it was the first occasion when I saw my Uncle Om Parkash Kochhar closely. I found him self centered and had sense of superiority complex. He wanted to have relations only with the well placed relatives and people. I found a little smell of his being Damad’ (son-in-law) in him at Palampur.

As told earlier, from Palampur, I went to Dehradun with my father. Other family members remained at Palampur. As said earlier my father’s younger maternal uncle family had settled at Dehradun after the partition. They had  started hardware shop as Paltan Bazaar and his cousin Sohan Lal Kohli was looking after it. I think, his mami might have offered my father to work with them at Dehradun. There was not much business at the shop. I remained with him for a few days at Dehradun. I felt my father was not happy over the offer. There was no job there too. More over, though my father never told me but I feel my father had never played a second fiddle all over his service with them and he had been managing their business independently. When my father had taken so much risk to sell their shops after creation of Pakistan and it was expected that they should have given him some amount as token of recognition or other wise as help, knowing his financial position after the partition as he had been with them almost though out his life. Had my father not taken the decision to sell those two shops, they would have lost every thing of these two shops as they had lost every thing of Company Bagh shop which had huge godown of heavy iron material as they were sole selling agent of Tata Iron & Steel for Punjab.

After a few days my father advised me that I should go Delhi with my massi Rampiari who was presently living at Haridwar, with the intention that either I should find some job or to continue my studies at Delhi. My massi and her family members had migrated to Haridwar after partition. My father left me with massi Rampiari at Haridwar and he himself left for Palampur.

My massi Ram piari, her mother in-law Dhanwanti, masser ji Chachi Kulwanti, chachi’s daughter Sawraj and masser ji’s Bhua were living at Jogi wara, Dharmshala, Haridwar. My masser ji and his brother Inder Raj Sethi had already gone Delhi to find some work and accommodation. At Haridwar they had one room which was sufficient for all during the summer as there was no electric fan in the room and during noon every body had to sit or sleep in the’ deodi’ near the main gate which was airy. At night everybody used to sleep in the verandah or near the temple platform. There were no carts, every one had to sleep on the hard floor on dari (cotton mate). I remained at Haridwar with them for over a fortnight and in the mean while they got the accommodation at Delhi. At Haridwar we had no work expect to the pass the day in the deodi’ and evening at the Har ki Pohri.

My masser ji got a business place to sit in partner ship with some local man near satta bazaar in Chandni Chowk. His business was forward sale and purchase of Gold and his brother also got a place at Karol Bagh for doing his old Meena Kaari work. They got the accommodation in Gali Kale Khan, Kucha Chelian at Darya Ganj in Delhi. It was a double story building at end of the small narrow lane in Gali Kale Khan. This lane was just wide enough for the gate of the house. It was so narrow that only two persons could walk simultaneously in the lane. The house was just like a box with small opening at its one corner.  After entering the gate there was a narrow tunnel like lane on the left, leading to the court yard and there were six living rooms on the ground floor. Stairs for the first floor were just 4 feet opposite the entrance. There were two other houses in the lane, one each on either side. In the left house, one Muslim family was living and on the right one migrated family was living.  As said there were six rooms on the first floor.  There was one big room facing the court yard. This big room had enough length to put four carts pressed with each other in the length of the room, leaving a little passage to pass though the carts on its foot side.  The other room was half of its size and its entrance was from within this big room.  It could be called as store room also. Before the main room there was a verandah and on the right side of the verandah there was another room of the same size (store size) where one could put one and a half cart. One cart had to be put straight on a little  raised height by putting two layers of bricks under it and the small part of the other cart had be pushed under  the raised cart. Besides this there was again a small verandah which was used as an open kitchen and which was in between the small room and the bath room which had a big water tank constructed on the floor. This accommodation (one front room and two right side rooms with verandas) was with my massi Rampiari’s family. My massi was occupying the small room adjoining to the kitchen; my masser ji brother Inder Raj had occupied the other small room (store) whose entrance was from the big room. The big room which was  like a general ward, was occupied by the four persons on cart basis for sleeping at night. One cart was permanent and the other three carts were put at night for sleeping. The first cart had an almirah to be used for putting the belongings and was occupied by Bhua ji, the second cart was occupied by chachi ji and her daughter Swaraj, the third was occupied by massi ji mother in-law (Be ji) and fourth and the last cart (which was permanent) was occupied by me with almirah on its back where I could put my belongings. At night if one has to go out of the room, one  had to step down form the cart form the foot side and pass through the passage left over by the carts, say just about two feet. There was one electric bulb on wall in the center and one electric ceiling fan in the centre. The rooms were used for sleeping purposes mostly in winter and rainy seasons. In summer the open court yard was used for sleeping purpose. This was my house for more that four years.

This ground floor was shared by Bajar Sain Sethi s/o Head Master Gurcharan Lal Sethi. Bajar Sain who was massar ji partner at Rawalpindiin Sarafi Shop, M/S Gobind Ram Bajar Sain Sethi Saraf and was mainly looked after by my masser ji.  Bajar Sain Sethi,’s family had the left side of the courtyard. On its left side there were open stairs and under the stairs there was a small kitchen, adjoining to the main room and other two small rooms of the same size (which my massi had) were in a straight line. They did not share the main verandah even though one room had its opening in the Verandah also. He was living with his wife Chand, two sons Kamal, Yash and one daughter Suneeta. The first floor was occupied by Padma w/o Dr. Gulshan Chadha and d/o Head Master Gurcharan Lal Sethi with her husband, two sons, a daughter. Her father Head Master Gurcharan Lal Sethi was also living with her. They had one servant named Kashi. Gurcharan Lal Sethi was Head Master at Dayal Singh High School, Lahore and now at Delhi. When I needed my birth Certificate he made the certificate for me  but  inadvertently In the birth certificate he put date of my birth as 6-9-1932 instead of 7-9-1931. The certificate was needed for getting entrance in the college. (Subsequently, due to this error  I got the benefit of one year extra service in the bank). In our heredity graph (family tree) he was my uncle. His great grand father and my father’s great grand fathers were brothers.

In Darya Ganj there were two parallel roads of the Faiz Bazaar as these are today but between the parallel roads on the pavements there were wooden ‘Khokhas’ in which there were retail shops opposite the permanent shops. This road was meant for Tonga’s and pedestrians. The other road which was wide enough and had big showrooms on it side. This wider road was meant for buses and cars (which were very few). There were mainly three or four routes of the DTC from Darya Ganj. No. 21 was for going to Karol Bagh, Dev Nagar. No. 4 & 9 was for going to Cannught Place. No 28 for going to Mehroli.

After a few days, my father came to Delhi to get me admitted in some college. He discussed with massi ji and masser ji about my staying with them in case I got admission in the College. They welcomed his proposal and assured that they would take care of me and this was endorsed by ‘Be ji’ (massi’s mother in-law) also. Then we went to Pahar Ganj, where his eldest mama’s (Gobind Ram Kohli) family was living, to condole his mama’s death, who had expired some times back. After the partition. Mami Chano and my father’s cousins, Moti and Mohan were living there. I was told that Mami Chano was not formally married  to his mama Gobind Ram Kohli (who had married thrice before her) but after the death of Mohan’s mother, when Mohan was very small, she was brought in the family to take care of Moti and Mohan. Moti and Mohan were treating her as their mother as she had looked after them since their childhood. In mama’s sickness and in his old age she was the only lady who took care of him. Mama’s eldest two sons, Kundan Lal Kohli and Chaman Lal Kohli (from his 1st wife) who were living at Lahore at Nisbat Road before partition and they had never recognised her as family member and they never visited their father as far as I know. I am not sure about the attitude of his third son Krishan Lal Kohli (from 2nd wife whose 2nd son was Moti), who was living at Murree.

After the condolence, my father asked Mohan, his youngest cousin if I could get admission in any college in Delhi. He was very quick to suggest that in Pahar Ganj, DAV had opened a new College and there would be no problem for me to get the admission. He took us to Hans Raj College at Chitra Gupta Road, which was not far of from their house.  Ultimately, I got the admission in prep. (11th) in the college. My subjects were Hindi, English, Mathematics and Economics. My roll Number was 7. One of Orient Languages was compulsory in Delhi University. I could take Urdu as subject in other colleges of Delhi, as earlier in School my medium of instruction was Urdu and Urdu was my  one of the subjects  also but it was not easy to get admission in any other college in Delhi. In Hans Raj College I had no option but to take Hindi  as they did not have arrangement for any other Orient Languages. I had never got the opportunity to learn Hindi and its grammar though a little of its words I had learnt because of my past association with RSS where mostly Hindi was spoken. I was lacking in it correct ascents and spellings, specially its ‘matras’ (vowels) though I had picked up Dev Nagri Script gradually,

Dr. G.L. Datta who had written books on Physics was The Principal of the college. (Later he became the Vice Chancellor of Vikram University). He was Life Member of DAV. My Hindi teacher was Dr. Bhanot who later became the Head of the Department of Sanskrit in Punjab University. My English teachers were Dr. Sarkar, Prof. Shiv Kumar. Prof. Gian Parkash Chopra, who later became Principal of this college and after his retirement he became the President of D.A.V. College Managing Committee. My Math Teachers were Prof Bhagwan Das and Prof Shanti Swaroop who were also life members of DAV and were very simple and they used to wear Pajama and shirt in the college even. Both these Maths Teachers later became Principals of DAV institutions.  Prof. Thadani (s/o the Principal of Hindu College) and Kapur were my Economics teachers. Later Kapur joined Indian Administrative Services (IAS). Iqbal Nath was the Accountant cum office in charge of the college. Prof Bhagwan Das was known as bursar of the college. He was very disciplinarian but exceptionally humble.

Mehar Chand Mahajan was Chief Justice of India and his two sons Vikram Mahajan and Jatinder Mahajan were my class mates. Jatinder Mahajan was in Arts but Vikram Mahajan was in Science. I went to Chief Justice Kothi number of times with Jatinder Mahajan and twice Jatinder Mahajan came to my house at Darya Ganj to solve the Math Problems. Later Mehar Chand Mahajan after his retirement became the President of D.A.V Managing Committee. The other friends in my College were Comrde Nijhawan and Des Raj Goel both were card holders of Communist Party of India, Des Raj Sabharwal  was member of Indian National Congress, Gopal Bhanot s/o Dr. Bhanot. Later Gopal Bhanot was News Reader at BBC, London. Later who joined us was Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who became Chief Executive Counselor of Delhi from 1967 to 1972 (It was equivalent of CM before Delhi got state hood) and later he became Deputy Opposition Leader of BJP when L.K. Advani was opposition leader.

The building of the college was just one lined building which was earlier part of DAV. H. Sec. School. Just a wall was drawn in DAV High School for our College building. The gate of the School was on Chitra Gupta Road just adjoining the Pahar Ganj Police Station but the college’s gate was in a side lane. When we enter the gate, on the left side there was a big room which was called a hall but was used as Library room, and then there was lane and then a line of rooms with verandah. The first room was meant for the office and the second room was for the Principal and  there were four other rooms in the line for the classes, and at end of the verandah there was a staff room facing the main gate. Later some more rooms (double storey) were constructed to be used as class rooms just on the right side of the main entrance. These were still under construction when I left the college. After entering the main gate there was a lawn opposite to the one line building. There was another lawn and verandah on the back side of the rooms also but its entrance was from lane in front of the Library. For a few months I had tuition for English with Prof. Gian Parkash Chopra when he was living at Malka Ganj,  perhaps he was unmarried at that time. His father, a retired Head Master was living with him and he some times used to guide in grammatical problems.

Members of the Rationalist Union Controlling  Hans Raj College;s Parliament in the centre  Vijay Kumar Maltotra and Y,P.Sethi
Members of the Rationalist Union Controlling Hans Raj College Parliament in the centre Vijay Kumar Maltotra and Y,P. Sethi

In the beginning I used to go college on foot up to Hauz Qaizi in Chawari Bazaar from where the Tonga was available for Pahar Ganj Police Station for one or two Annas. I used to get down near The Police Station which was adjacent to DAV School and to our College. Later my masser ji bought me a new BSA bicycle. In those days Hercules and BSA were the two main cycles in the market but BSA was considered the best. There was no Atlas or Hero at that time. Only one Hind Cycle which was the indigenous cycle was available. When I got the cycle, I used to go college on cycle. In summer, I used to wear a hat to protect from the sun. Once when I was coming from the college and was on the Original Road, Pahar Ganj just before the Railway Bridge a strong wind began to blow from the opposite side and my hat was blown in the air. I did not look behind to see where my hat had blown for the fear of humiliation and hooting from the passer byes.

My interests were more in other extra curricular activities of the College. I was not devoting much time in the studies. Though Hindi was the main huddle but I could not do much in other subjects also. At night, I was conscious that the light should not be on beyond the reasonable time and I used to switch off the light when every body was on their beds, even though none had ever pointed out to me for this but I never wanted to give any chance to other occupants of the room. I learnt the adaptability to any circumstances at all cost and it helped me though out in my life, I learnt the Art if living gracefully. In the house where there were three old widows, one young girl, and in the meanwhile Inder Raj Sethi brother of my massar ji was also got married to Bimla d/o Dewan Chand Anand of Rishikesh. My massi was temperamentally very hot. She would never tolerate any things which were not of her liking. There had been quarrel in the house occasionally. My maser ji was like a saint, he would never intervene in any matter. I also used to keep away from these clashes, knowing very well that on occasions  my massi was at the fault but I would never dare to tell her as she would take ill and it would have an adverse effect on her. Whatever I was given  in the break-fast, lunch and dinner or otherwise I used to take gladly. Some time massi wanted to differentiate by giving me some thing extra or some thing special but I used to refuse this special favour, telling massi ji that it did not look nice and it would have adverse effect also. My massar ji was very nice and he used to take special care of me.

Satish Narula was my class fellow. I cannot recall how he became close to me. His father was working in some departments of Defense and was living in Govt. Quarters at Anand Parbat. Whenever I used to visit his house in the evening and get late and he would not allow me to go without taking dinner despite my telling that my massi’s family would feel bad if don’t take meal when they had already made it for me as it was a joint family. But he would not listen to me and would force me to take meals.  Naturally, after taking dinner I used to get late to my house. My massi’s mother in-law  would not sleep till I came back and when I used to come, I found her waiting for me. They would bring dinner to me and I would never say no them and tell them I had taken my meals. I used to take full dinner so that they should not feel that their meal had gone waste or they might have been forced to tell me that if I was not to take the dinner at least I should have told them before.

One day, after visiting Anand Parbat, I went to Bhua Shakuntla’s (d/o Hari Ram Kohli maternal uncle of my father) house when they were living in a kothi at Rohtak road. At Anand Parbat they used to take their dinner a little early whereas at Bhua’s house they used to take dinner very late. Taking that their time for dinner was late I stopped over at their house for some times but I got  struck there in talk and uncle Dev Raj Sethi, the husband of Bhua Shakuntla did not allow me to go without taking the meal. He was very hard and  he used harsh words if I tried to go without taking meals and no argument was acceptable to him. Consequently, I had to take my full dinner here also. The partial dinner at the both the places was not allowed and they used to ensure that I had taken full meals before leaving.  When I reached home I found my massi’s mother in-law as usual  was waiting for me. I could not dare to tell her that I had already taken the meals twice. Thus that night I took three full meals and slept.

Once or twice it had happened reverse also. Once I went Anand Parbat, with a definite programme and knew that I would come after taking my dinner. I told my massi that I would not be taking my meals on that night as I was going to Anand Parbat. On that day I found that my friend was not at home and I had to come back and on the way I went to Shakutla Bhua’s house at Rohtak Road and sat with them for some times (it was earlier to their dinner time) and returned home. While coming home, I ensured that the time of dinner had passed by time I reach home. As usual they used to ask me for the dinner but my reply was that I had already taken my meals at Anand Parbat and did not look appealing to them when I told them that I had taken my meals when I had reached home comparatively earlier and it was  not much late also. They asked me how I could I take the meals so early. But I justified and went to bed without meals that night. I faced this similar situation twice.

When I had to go some where I used to tell my Massi’s mother in-law instead of my massi to give her importance. Otherwise also,  I used to give respect to every one in house and tried to ensure that no body in the house feel that I was stranger to them and/or only ‘Bhanja’ of Rampiari and had been thrust upon them.

One Narinder Sethi was living near Tarah Beharam Khan near our house. He was in a distinct relation with the family. He often used to meet me in the street. His father had an agency of Rita Sewing Machine at Nayi Sarak and he was very sweet in talk. He used to wear multi colored flower shirts.  Once, my few class fellows decided to visit Agra for site seeing. He came to know of it or I might have told him casually. He told me that he too wanted to accompany us. My friends did not object his going with us. From Delhi we went to Chhatta (District Mathura) where my parents were living and we stayed a night there. Next morning we went to Agra and returned Delhi late at night. All his fares were born by me as he told me that he had forgotten his purse at Delhi. Not only that, he borrowed two hundred rupees from me in cash in addition, with a promise to return me on reaching Delhi. For some times I kept mum and never asked for the money but later I started asking for my money and he cleverly used to tell me that he would come to my place  and pay me the amount. In the bazaar he was avoiding me. Twice I went to his shop also and his reply used to be same. One day, he promised that he would pay the money definitely in the evening at his shop. I went to his shop to collect my money and called him out side from his shop. When he came out side he told me, just wait, I would bring the money from his father and after some times when he came, he told me that his father wanted to see me. I went in the shop and paid my respect to his father. His father asked me “Narinder is telling you needed some money. Why you ask Narinder? You should have asked me if you needed any money.”  I got much ashamed. Before I could tell him any thing Narinder hurriedly took me out side the shop and told me ‘Go and never come in future for money’. I was stunned and shocked and went back with a mind not to tell any body that I had been cheated, be-fooled and humiliated.

When I had left Palampur and had come Delhi after staying for a few days at Dehradun and Haridwar, my Bhua Daya also had shifted to Delhi  as my uncle Om Prakash had got a job in civil department of Defense Services and they took one room at the third floor in Partap Street, Chuna Mandi, Pahar Ganj which was very close to my college. My Bhua also got a teaching job in Arya Samaj School just close her house. Naturally my visits to her house also became frequent. Subsequently my Bhua improved here education and got a job in the Government School as a senior teacher. Afterwards my uncle also got a Govt. accommodation at R.K Puram.

When I had come Delhi, ban on RSS was still there. I met some of old swaymsevaks of Rawalpindi. We used to meet each other under tree near Jhande Wala Mandir. Dev Raj Sethi who was Karyawah of the morning Shakhas was also with us. After some times the ban of RSS was lifted and Shree Guru Ji came Delhi for the first time after his release from the Jail. The uniformed swaymsevaks were posted reroute from Delhi Railway Station to Red Fort (beyond it I did not go to see). On his arrival the whole building of the Railway Station was packed with people up to its roof, whether these were verandas or window. The roads were fully jammed with the crowd except the route which was being guarding by the uniformed swaymsevaks. I had one Box Camera and I took photographs of all the scenes. It was a historical welcome. In the evening a Public meeting was held at Ram Lila Ground which too was full to its pack. Shree Guru Ji’s old mother and father also came on the dais. This was the first occasion when I saw the parents of Shree Guru Ji. I observed all this as I was not connected with them after coming from Palampur.

The partition saw many well placed persons on the foot path. I saw my mother’ maternal cousin who were in lakhs and very big man at Malakwal were living in a Khokhas in Karol Bagh, and Jagdish and Baldev his cousins (sons of Mama Mano) were doing some labour jobs. Many also got opportunity to rise also.

I had completed one year in Hans Raj College and appeared in the preparatory (Prep.) examination and the result was to my expectation. I failed in two subjects, Hindi and English. What was to be done now? To be eligible for the admission in the college for graduation, I had to pass “admission” examination of Delhi University. I submitted my ‘admission’ form to the Delhi University through my College. This time I cleared my ‘admission’ examination  against my own expectations. When the result was displayed in the University notice board, I went to the University but did not dare to go near the Notice Board  to see the result. My friend who accompanied me he told that my name was also there in the successful candidates.

I got a chance to get the admission in 1st year of three year Degree course of Delhi University. For eligibility to three years degree course one has to be either Higher Secondary pass or one year course of ‘preparatory’ examination of from any university after passing the matriculation examination. Those who had failed in the Preparatory examination were given a chance to appear in the ‘Admission’ examination of the University.  In Delhi University, Degree course was of three years and No annual examinations were taken by the University. Only the colleges in which one was studying used to take the annual examination and those who passed were promoted to the next class. The University used to take the examination at the students by end of the three years of the affiliated colleges. Where as in the Punjab University during those days after matriculation (10th), one had to put two year course for F.A. and after passing  F.A. one had to put two years for the Degree (B.A). Private Students were not allowed to sit in any of the examinations only regular students of colleges were allowed.

As I told, I was very active in extracurricular activities of the college in stead of putting my self completely in the studies. I was conscious that it was hard earned money of my parents and Massar ji, but I was never serious about these hard facts and was passing my time leisurely. I never put my heart and soul in studies. (I cannot complain to my environment). However, I was regular to my college and never missed any period; I never went to see the movies as many of my friends used to go during college hours. I very seldom went to movie otherwise also,  When I had no interest in the movies and for roaming in the cannaught Place or any other place of interest, I should have excelled in the studies but it was not so. I could never develop my interest in studies. My routine was going to college and from college straight to my home. I was not much going to my friends even, except a few friends Kailash Nagpal, Satish Narula, Narinder Soni and Charanjeev Shastri that too not so frequently.

Kailash Nagpal was a science student of Hindu College and was living at Shyam Bhawan, Faiz Bazaar, Darya Ganj after  shifting from Terah Behram Khan. He  was introduced to me through RSS and we had developed very strong family relations. He was very laborious and  nice boy. He was very good in studies also. Only his eldest brother was married and had a very nice, soft spoken, caring and accommodating wife (his Bhabi). He had no mother. His Bhabi was taking care of the entire family without any sign of burden or fatigue on her forehead. Whenever I visited his house I saw her with a smiling face. Kailash’s father too was a very nice and caring . He had four brothers. The eldest married. brother had a whole sale leather and Rexene business at Kucha Bili Maran in Chandni Chowk. His second brother (elder to him) Lekh Raj was studying probably at Allahabad and was doing graduation in paper technology. Kailash was at number three.  His third and fourth brothers Ramesh and Satpal were studying in School.  Ramesh and Satpal were very found of Cricket. On Sundays they used to go to Kotla ground (out side Delhi Gate) and used to play cricket with other friends. Kailash some times used to join them. Some times he used to take me also to the play ground but I never played despite insistence from all the three brothers. I was treated as their family member. Some time my massi used to visit his house to meet her ‘bhabi’ and she also  used to reciprocate. He had a good camera and used to take shot of my cousins: Anil, Anita and Suneeta. After a few years of marriage of Inder Raj Sethi (brother of massar ji) Suneeta was born. One day Kailash told me that one night while  he was sleeping on the roof of their house in Tehrah Beharam Khan at mid night, there was a rain and they were having ‘rajai’ (quilt) over them. Initially the rain was mild and he though that the rain would stop and did not get down to his rooms on the ground floor. After ward there was a heavy rain but he still did not move down. With the result his ‘rajai’ was fully drenched and so his bed. Sometimes Kailash used to come to our house for studies and we used to sit in bathroom as it was cool place in summer. Moreover, as told earlier. the space at the house was very small.  Kailash was engaged to Radha who had joined some evening coaching college at Karol Bagh. One night he took me to Karol Bagh to meet her. He got me introduced to her. On return he asked me how I find her. I told what I observed. She was beautiful and soft spoken. Kailash did his M.Sc. from Hindu College, Kashmiri Gate. After M.Sc. he got job in NPL (National Physical Laboratory). He did his PhD. from NPL and retired as Deputy Director of NPL.

Narinder Soni was also my class fellow, but I don’t know how he also got attached to me. He was a very sincere friend. He was living in Wazir Singh Street, Chuna Mandi. He used to take me to his residence though they probably had one room set, which was on the first floor. He had one brother and one sister, both were younger to him. His mother was very nice and caring.  At least they had chairs to sit in their room. I met him twice after I left Delhi, but when I went again once, I found that he had already shifted somewhere.

Charanjeev Shastri s/o Pt. Amar Nath was our neighbor at Rawalpindi. He was one of the Swaymsevak of the evening ‘Chhatarsal Shakha’ which was near to his Pathshala. After doing his Vishard he was studying in Shastri at Dhingi Khui near Raja Bazaar. Incidentally he met me in Delhi after the partition. He was living at Pahar Ganj.  He took me to his house once. When we met he told me that he had already completed his Shastri at Rawalpindi and in Delhi he had done his M.A. in Sanskrit  and he had got a job. He had his younger sister Toshi was got married. As I can recall probably his father and mother had already expired after the partition when I met him. He used to come to our house at Darya Ganj frequently as he was living just next to our house at Rawalpindi. He and his parents were known to massi ji and other members of the family. I introduced him to my friend Kailash Nagpal also. He also used to meet him occasionally. Un-luckily he was trapped in a criminal case. Dr. Shakuntla, who was well known figure of Rawalpindi and was living at Murree Road, opposite Company Bagh and she had a big Kothi there. Now she was living in Delhi but I cannot recall where she was living in Delhi. Once she had to go some where, she entrusted her house to Charanjeev for supervision and gave him one room for sleeping. Chranjeev had some friends  who used to sleep with him at Dr. Shakuntla’s house. When Dr. Shakutla returned, she found that her house had been burgled and some one had gone inside the house from the ventilator of the room which was given to Charanjeev. Charanjeev was arrested. I came to know of this incidence much later when he was in Jail. Other wise Charanjeev was very simple and honest boy. I came to know that after a long trial he was acquitted. Once I went to his side but I could not locate his house.

I remained in Delhi for over four years. Besides my friends and relatives  mentioned above I used to visit to few of my other relatives also. Among other was Shanti Bhua. As told earlier, Shanti Bhua was daughter of my grand father’s eldest brother Bhagat Ram Sethi. She was the only daughter of my father’s ’tayia ji’ . She had one younger brother Chander Parkash (Chan) who was in Central Bank at Lucknow. Bhua Shanti was married to Kundan Lal Kohli who was brother of my eldest mami Raj Rani (w/o Mangal Sain Sahni). They were living at Jawhar Nagar near Malika Ganj. My uncle Kohli was in charge of the local branch of Orient Longsman an International firm of Publishers. Their eldest son was Yog, then daughter Uma and Veena and youngest son was Baby . Yog and Uma were elder to me and Baby and Veena were much younger to me. Bhua Shanti and Uncle were very nice to me. Normally I used to visit their house on Sundays when every body was supposed to be at home so that I could meet them all .

My maximum visits were to Bhua Shakuntla’s house.  At Rohtak Road which was on my way to Anand Parbat where my friend Satish Narula was living. Mostly my visits to Bhua Shakuntla’s house were on my way back from my friend’s house. Earlier they were living  near Jagat Cinema, Jama Masjid which was close to Darya Ganj where I was living.  I used to visit them at night after taking my meals. As told earlier Bhua Shakuntla was the eldest daughter of my father’s mama Hari Ram Kohli. She had three daughters and three sons. They were very caring as told earlier. Her eldest daughter Gudi was a little older to me and was married in a Kashyap family at Karnal. The other children were younger to me.  One of their daughters was called Kani and the sons were Billu (Lahori), Vijay and Susheel They used to insist for my night stay whenever I used to go to their house in the evening.  When my grand father expired at Palampur I was staying at their house that night for the first time.

Besides these relatives I some times visited to the house of  maternal uncle of Swaraj (cousin of my maser ji) with chachi Kulwanti and some times I went to Gandhi Nagar to the house of Raj Sabharwal the eldest sister of Bimla w/o  Inder Raj Sethi (brother of my masser ji) along with my massi and Bimla. I used to visit the Pharmacy of Om Parkash Sehgal, husband of Saroj the eldest daughter of Roshan Lal Kohlii, my father’s cousin. I visited her house when she was living in Railway Quarters near Minto Bridge.

There was a token tax on cycles in those days, which we used to pay at the Town Hall at Chandni Chowk and used to get brass token which was to be fitted on our cycles. Double riding on the cycles was also illegal. Once when I was coming from some where a friend of mine met me near Delhi Gate just opposite the Police Station. I offered him a lift but hardily he got on my back the policeman who was standing just behind us ran to me and challaned me despite my telling that the man had just sat before you and had got down. He did not agree to me and issued summons. I had to go to the Courts which were at Kashmiri Gate (at Hindu College building). I had to pay Rupees ten as fine. Once again I was caught without light on my cycle near Delhi Gate, just opposite to Darya Ganj Police Station.  As usual while going home when I entered the Delhi Gate , just before Darya Ganj Police station there were number of Police constables standing on the road. They stopped me and pushed me in side the police station with my cycle and told me to pay the penalty for the default to the magistrate who was sitting inside the Police Station. When I entered the police station premises, I found a large number of people were standing in queue. I also parked my cycle on one side and  was in the queue. After about an hour my turn came and I entered the room where I found a magistrate along with staff was sitting. One of his assistant was issuing receipt against payment of Rupees ten as fine. I paid the penalty amount and took the receipt and came out of the room. I took my cycle and while coming out of the Police Station with my cycle I found numbers of constables were still standing just at the entrance of the building. They asked me to show the receipt. After looking at the receipt casually they allowed me to go with my cycle.  When I came out of the police station I saw a few people standing in a corner and asking for the receipt from the people who were coming out from the police station. They were offering half the amount against the receipt.  There were certain people who were prepared to pay the full amount of the fine also against the receipt.  Some persons approached me also and offered the full money also but I refused but there were many persons who were selling the receipts. I asked one of them what they would do with it. They told me that inside the police station there was a great rush and they would bring their cycle from the police station after showing this receipt to the constables at entrance and would save time as they don’t punch or mark on the receipt at the entrance.  I was amazed to see the wonderful idea. How people find the way to escape but I never wanted to be the part to this venture.

Once, my massi Shanti had gone Jaipur, leaving behind her daughter Swaran Kanta at Chhata with her Dadi. After a few days my massi might have felt that Kanta might be missing her as my maser ji also was not there. She wrote letter to my massi Ram Piari to send me to Chhata to bring Kanta to Delhi. As desired by her, I went to Chatta to bring her to Delhi.  It was summer, immediately on reaching there I was given Kachi Lassi (milk mixed with sweet water) in churi wala glass (a big brass glass which can contain about ¾ of liter water or milk). It was very difficult for me to drink such a large quantity. I had never drunk even water in such a large quantity. I requested her that I might not be able to take this much of lassi but she did not heed to my request and she  told me that I was young enough to take this small water. Some how I drank it but I had a feeling that it may come out. She wanted to ensure that ‘bhanja’ of her daughter-in-law had come for the first time and he be served well. After that there was a lunch time. She gave me a very big ‘patha’ fully drenched with pure Desi Ghee. First size of the Pratha was very big; second, it was drenched in ghee. To my capacity I could take half of that ‘Pratha” only. She went to kitchen and brought another ‘pratha’ and placed it in my ‘thali’ (plate). When she had gone to the kitchen for preparing another ‘Pratha’ I put  the half eaten ‘pratha’ in my hanging cloth bag.  When she again went out side I put the full ‘Pratha’ in my bag  also. I told her it was beyond my capacity to take. She told that I was a young man and it was nothing for a Young-man. The old lady again went out and brought another ‘Pratha’. I was very much disturbed what to do as she was sitting before me. I asked for the water, when she went out I put the third ‘Pratha’ again in my bag. After some times I beg leave as Kanta was not coming to Delhi and wanted to stay with Dadi. By the time I reached my massi’s house, my bag had already enjoyed the Desi Ghee of two and half   ‘Pratha’. When my massi saw the bad shape of the bag, she asked what I had done to the bag. I narrated the whole incidence she also laughed and told me that  ‘sas’ of my massi Shanti wanted to ensure that the bhanja of her daughter- in-law should have been looked after well and was served well. We all shared the two and half  ‘Prathas’ with massi’s family.  These were very delicious then.

I visited Chatta once again, when my massi ji and masser ji were also there. I stayed there for a few days when Rani, daughter of Masser ji sister along with her small son was staying with them. I smelled that Rani had some problem with her husband.

In the villages most of the people male and females used to go for latrine in the fields but they used to construct one latrine in the building. Unlike Punjab they don’t permit the scavenger to enter their gates of the house. Here in their house there was latrine on the second floor but it was neither used by the landlord’s family nor by other local tenants. However, it was used by massi’s family only. It was a special type of latrine. The latrine was just like a square well and flat stone slap with wide hole on  the floor of the latrine. The latrine used to drop on the ground with bang and the Scavenger used to lift from the ground floor where it had its opening in one side of the building.

Once again I went to Chatta to see my massi. On my return from Chhata ‘Be’ ji’ (massi’s mother in-law) gave me one photo frame and Rupees five to be delivered to Rani (her maternal grand daughter) at her residence at Mehroli. Mehroli must be more than 12 miles from Darya Ganj. I had to go Mehroli on cycle to deliver Rupees five and the Photo frame.

As there was no work at Palampur my father went to various places in search of some work. He went to Agra also to survey, if any work could be done there or elsewere. I accompanied my father to Agra. There we met Mama Daulat Ram (Maternal Cousin of my mother) who had General merchant shop at Malakwal. Here at Agra also he had started General Merchant shop in a khoka behind Jama Masjid. We met Om Parkash Sethi his brother in-law who had sports business at Sialkot also and had started the same business at Agra. We went to Mama Chanan Shah’s in-laws house also. Sardari Lal Bhasin who was postal clerk at Rawalpindi before the marriage of my  mami was now Post Master. I cannot recall what his younger brother Kharaiti Lal was. He too was in Post Office at Rawalpindi. After all survey at Agra my father decided to settle at Chhata in Mathura district.

After Palampur my parents had shifted to Chatta, a Tehsil Head Quarter of Mathura District. My massi Shanti had already settled there. I feel my maser ji, Janki Nath Anand had already some business link there. At Gujranwala he had Iron Safe factory. Here at Chhatta he started a business of weighing scales which were meant for commission agents. Instead of manufacturing the scales here, he used to purchase raw scales from Ratlam (MP). Here at Chhatta he used to get them coloured with his own designs under the name of Calcutta Scale Co. and he used to send these scales after giving a finishing touch, to different cities on order. He had engaged a few agents for booking the orders. His business was satisfactory. Perhaps earlier he himself had been doing the job of finishing the scales but when my father came here he offered this job of painting to him after fixing the rate per piece. It was a tedious job especially in summer when there was no electricity and the painting had to be done continuously for hours. When I used to come here on holidays I used to help him.

Though Chatta was a Tehsil Head Quarter in Mathura District but it was a small village. It was on the National Highway (Delhi -Agra). It had a small Railway Station also which was about 2 km from the village. There was one School for boys named Gandhi Memorial High School whose Chairman was Ch. Tikam Singh. He was the member of Zillah Parshid also. The roads in the village were kachha. It had one “srai” with two big Gates.  Opening of its one gate was in the bazaar and the other gate’s opening was towards the fields. The gates were very vide in length and breath. The height of the gates must be about 30 feet. The “sarai” was square in area and each side must be about 500 yards. On the top of the gates there are “Chhatris” (Umbrella), perhaps,  for which the name to the village was given as Chatta. There was no electricity and no water supply. In side the village the well’s water was bitter in taste and could not be used for drinking. The women flock used to bring the water from the near by wells away from the village which was sweet (drinkable) water. There was a small bazaar. Mostly people were not using soap either for bathing or for washing the clothes. Normally they used to take bath with the dhotis which they used to wear and the same was washed in simple water and put  in the Sun to dry. When the Punjabi came here, they gradually started using the washing soap.  Soap was mostly used not for bathing  as a cleansing medium but as perfume .

When my father came here he started his General Merchant Shop, taking a big double door shop on rent in the main bazaar. Numbers of customers were increasing gradually though the village was very small and there was no mandi. He kept the shop up to date. All the materials required, were displayed properly to attract the customers. Here the local shop keepers used to charge high rates but my father fixed his rates reasonable with reasonable profit to increase the sale. My younger brother Inder was probably in 7th class. Before going to School he was supposed to open the shop and would go to School when my father used come to the shop. My father was a good sales man; he would not allow any customer to go without taking the goods provided he had.  For example, Eveready cell was the only brand acceptable to the costumers for their torches. A new brand ‘Estrelia’ came in the market in Delhi though it  was cheaper, but still the customer preferred Eveready only and this new brand was not finding market here also.  My father found a strategy to sell these cells at higher rates as compared to Eveready. He would show both the cells to the customers and would tell them that the new cell had a better quality and its light was whiter than the Eveready though it cost a little more price. Most of the customers used to get convinced because of it higher rates. With the result he increased its sale. Once, a customer came to purchase a glass chimney of the lamp. My father brought the chimney of the required size which the customer wanted, but he asked if he (my father) had any better quality. My father replied in affirmation and brought another chimney of the same quality after removing its sticker and cleaning it properly. The customer was happy to see the new piece and was satisfied to pay more for it. He wanted that the customer should go satisfied.

Our house was very big in the heart of the town. There was one big  and  small room after the courtyard. There was a verandah before this room and two verandahs on the either side of the courtyard. Out side our gate there was one room in which my masser ji niece ‘Kula’ (Kulwanti) w/o Dr. Pindi Das was living. Dr. Pindi Das was more a dresser than physician but he had good number of patients for his needs. There were many monkeys in the village. I found monkeys also had groups and their leaders. Some times  one group used to fight with each other fiercely . There was one monkey whose nose was cut. He was the ring leader of one of the groups. The other groups of monkies normally were afraid of him. If one group was sitting the walls, when the group of this nose cut monkey used to come, the other group would flee.

My brother Vijay was born on 25th December, 1946 at Rawalpindi. His ‘mundans’ were celebrated in 1949 at Chhata; He had very good health and members of our family used to call him Mallick Chuni Lal Bhia Ji (husband of our eldest bhua Janki) who was heavy in weight. I took number of his photograph after and before his ‘mundans’. He used to get annoyed many a  times over trifles and would stand against the wall aloof but would neither weep nor react adversely. He was fond telling a story. He would do any service to our visiting relatives if they were prepared to hear his pet story. The story was: that once a man saw a black smith whose iron was hot and he used to dip the iron in the water and iron used to get cool. A village man was observing this process.  Once the man’s wife got sick and her body was very hot due to fever. He took the clue from the black smith, he tight his wife with the rope and lowered her in the well. When he took over his wife from the well, he found his wife was dead.

Some times he was obstinate also.  We had an agriculture land at village Daultana which was on the road between Chhata and Kosi Kalan and was about five miles from Chhata.  The land was given on lease to a local agriculturist. We used to go to Daultana on foot when the crops were ripe and used to bring some of the agricultural products from the lessees. Once Vijay was with us and on return there were a few bags to carry. The distance was long. Our father told Vijay to carry one small bag but he refused to carry it. I did not like his refusal. Then I repeated the same what you are told and put the bag on his shoulder and told him with full force “Vijay you will have to carry it”. It was sufficient for him.  May be reluctantly but he honored my words and carried the small bag up to Chhatta without grumbling.

Whenever, Vijay used to come to know that I was coming from Delhi he used to sing “Bag mai Papia Bole mai jano koi aye ge, udar se aye Yaspal se bhaia kia kia soda liay ge”.  What I could bring for them when I was not earning anything. However, I used to bring two big Breads and some times biscuits whenever I used to come from Delhi, as there was no bakery here.  Whenever, I had to come from Delhi, I used to catch the first morning bus from Delhi.  In those days the UP stand was near the Old Delhi Railway station near the over crossing of Kashmiri Gate bridge. Once, when I was coming from Delhi and reached the bus stand and I took a cup of tea at the tea stall while waiting for the bus.  When I was to make payment I found that my purse was missing in my pocket (which actually was left at my house). It was winter, I was disturbed. I knew the actual fare of the bus from Delhi to Chhata. There was small money in my pocket which was not sufficient to purchase the ticket. I thought of selling these two breads. I told the shop keeper that I had left my purse at my place and had to go Chhata if he could help me by purchasing the two breads from me I would be able go to my destination, other wise I would have to miss the bus. Initially he was reluctant as I felt that he was not taking me a genuine person. I requested him again and told that he was not to loose any thing by purchasing them as he had to make me the payment at the rate at which he used to purchase them from the market and  I was not expecting the rate for which I had purchased and even he could pay me the less as I was short some amount only (I cannot recall the exact amount which was short but the sale proceeds of the bread could enable me to purchase the Chhata ticket).  Ultimately he purchased these breads and paid the amount. My bus for Chhata had come and I purchased the ticket and reached Chhata without the breads.

My fourth brother Vinod was born on 24th September 1949. He was very handsome like my brother Ashok and was active also. We had stationery as one of the items at the shop. I named our Exercises books in his name “Vinod Exercise book” for Gandhi Memorial High School. The Exercise books were got prepared from Mathura or Delhi (I don’t exactly remember). My third sister Babli (Urmil) was born at Chhata on 25 December, 1951. She used to have some skin problem in her legs.  Whenever I used to go Chhata I used to put talcum powder on the oozing spots and put the effected part against the Sun for quick relief. I had box Kodak Camera and used to take their photos.

My brother Inder was very laborious. He was supposed to open the shop and close it also. During the day when my father was to go some where he was required to sit at the shop. Virtually he lost his studies in this process. He could not go beyond 8th class. Whenever I used to come, he would tell me that I must be tired. Despite my telling that I was not, he would put my thighs between his legs and would sit over them for a few seconds and this used to make me to cry with pain. Then he used to relieve. He used call it a ‘Shakanja’. I used to feel light after this.

My sister Kamla had already passed 8th and there was no School for girls at Chhata. She used to do stitching work at home. In the meanwhile my cousin Kanta d/o my massi Shanti had started studies of Hindi, Rattan (or Bhushan) and had purchased the books. Kamla was also interested to take this exam. We thought since Kanta had the books there should be no problem for her to  give  one book at time which she was not reading . Though she gave one book at a time but my masser ji and Kanta were hesitant to give these books. I don’t remember whether she appeared in the exam or not. However,  Kamla was engaged to Ram Parkash Anand s/o Gurdas Mal Anand of Rawalpindi though he was a little over age but being displaced it was difficult to get any suitable match.

Ram Parkash had one elder brother Inder Nath who also unmarried and both were living with their aged father Gurdas Mal but they had no mother. They were living in Karol Bagh . The house had its opening in gali No.2 and there was a big room in the back (where they are living now) with mud floor. I was assigned with a duty to visit their house occasionally after my college timings by my father. Whenever I visited I found the old man was  beating some Unani medicines in the ‘hamamdasta’ (An heavy iron pot with heavy iron beater).  In the front, there was one room on the left side of their gate where Rani sister of Krishan Lal Sethi of Rawalpindi was living. She was very nice in talking. I never met Ram Parkash or Inder Nath at their home as whenever I used to go there both of them were away to their works as I used to go in the after noon after my college timings. The old man was very nice and gentle. I cannot recall if I had met both the brothers before the marriage of Kamla.

My elder Mama Mangal Sain Sawhney had also shifted Chhata. He had taken a mud house inside the Sarai. He opened a grocery shop in a residential street. He used to get customers who would give cereals in lieu of money against their purchases. Raman youngest s/o of my mama was born here. My Nani was living with them. My younger mama Chanan Shah Swahney who had numerous wounds on his body especially on both hands and legs which were  inflicted by the Muslims while saving his son in Pakistan had settled at Jaipur and joined some service there.

The marriage of my sister Kamla was held at Chhatta and the Baraat came from Delhi. It was very simple marriage. There was no fun and fair. It was a very simple marriage. Simple local made table and chair beside wooden doli (meat case-which was used for keeping the milk and other items to give natural air and to protect from cats) were given as furniture besides reasonable clothes, bedding and jewelry (Most likely made from the gold of my mother). After the marriage my grand mother and ailing bhua Rani stayed at Chhata but my grand father and my cousin Krishan went back to Palampur where they were serving in municipal department. Chacha Baldev also went back as he too was doing some job there.

My grand father collapsed in the street while he was washing his hands at the street water tape which was just opposite to our house when no body was at home. It was said that when he returned from his duties (he was serving at Octroi  Post) he sent the servant (a small boy) to Krishan, my cousin  (who was also serving at Octroi Post) to give him his shoes. My chacha Baldev also had left on work out of Palampur in the morning. My Janki Bhua who was living at Palampur was also at Delhi. When he collapsed none of his own near dear was near to him, even he sent the servant a few minutes earlier otherwise he was at home. Krishan and Mallick Harbans Lal and his relations in his in-law family were called immediately. His body was taken inside the house and Doctor was called who declared him dead. His own son Baldev was living with him and his own eldest daughter Janki was living there but on the day of his death no body was at Palampur. Chacha Baldev was located somehow and message was sent to him. He could reach Palampur in the evening to give fire to his body when the locals had already made arrangements for his last send off.

Immediately, the message was sent to Bhua Janki who was at Delhi in connection with preparation of the marriage of her second daughter, Darshan with Dhaneshwar Chadha of Delhi. The message was conveyed by Mallick Harbans Lal though his own sources. She received the massage late at night. She  along with Daya Bhua went immediately to  Darya Ganj at my massi’s house so that I might take the sad news to Chhata  but I was at Bhua Shakuntla’s house near Jagat Cinema. They immediately came to Shakuntla bhua’s house  and sent to Chhata to convey the sad news to my father and Dadi and Rani Bhua who were at Chhata. A passenger train was to leave for Mathura around 11 O’clock at night. I reached Chhata around 2.00 AM. The night was pitch dark  and the village was about one mile from the Railway Station and the narrow path was through barren fields. On the way there were lot of bushes and trees. Though I was very coward, somehow, I reached home and conveyed the unbelievable saddest  news to my Dadi and father. A few days earlier my dada ji had left this place in his normal health and with no complaint. My father was to leave for Palampur but before leaving it was to be decided where his last rites were to be performed. Normally last rites were to be performed at the place of death where we had house also. But in this case it was decided with consent of my dadi that the last rites be performed at Chhata, as most of our relatives are living in Delhi and my dadi and the eldest son (my father) who was  to perform his last rites was also at Chhata. My father left for Palampur to collect his remains (Phool). After the 4th day of his death, he came back with my chacha Baldev and Krishan, my cousin.

On the 13th day my dada ji last rites (Rasam Pagri) were performed at Chhata and almost all the relatives reached Chhatta. A letter was received from my grandfather’s cousin, Bihari Lal Sethi with a desire to send someone to Chhata Railway Station to take him. As I only knew him I was advised got to the Railway Station to bring him.  I reached railway station but the train was late and I had to wait for some times. Just to pass the time I asked for one simple paan (petal) from the vendor who was standing there. I did not know what he mixed in it I became semi unconscious. Thank God I regained my conscious before the train reached the Station.

After a few days my dadi and Rani Bhua left for Dehradun with my chacha Suraj Parkash Sethi. My Rani Bhua who was ailing for the last many years expired after a month at Dehradun. Rani Bhua  became widow at the very young age and was living with my grandparents. After doing ‘Normal’ (it was the lowest teaching course like B.Ed.) she started teaching in Jain School earlier at Rawalpindi and after partitions she was teaching in S.D.School Palampur.  It is said that during the course of one party in the School one her colleague gave her some thing mixed with barfi (sweat) and she became sick. Numbers of Doctors were consulted. Even Col. Dr. Batala who was a military Doctor (Physician) and was stationed at 7th Gorkha regiment Palampur came to our house number of times to check and treat her but the disease from which she was suffering could not be diagnosed.  Col. Dr Batala. was friend of my chacha Baldev Raj. Number of Hakims locally and from the near by area were consulted and their medicines were regularly taken but her position was becoming worse day by day. My Chacha Baldev Raj had to do a lot of labour for bringing medicines for her, some times from far off palaces and some times he used to bring Hakim or some knowledgeable  person who could treat her with other than the medicines. She was getting weak day by day. She used to complained that she was not given anything despite proper feed was given to her. Her complaint was that what ever she took that did go beyond her throat and . What was the reason which did allow the thing to reach her stomach but she never vomit whatever she was given. We could never understand it till her death except that some body had done some thing wrong to her. It is correct the logic and science do no believe such things but she suffered and died after a prolong illness in agony.

My cousin Darshan d/o my eldest Bhua Janki was engaged to Dhaneshwar Chadha of Delhi. When my grand father and Rani Bhua expired date of her marriage had already been fixed and the same could not be postponed. My Bhua was already in Delhi for the purchases and preparation of her marriage before my grand father expired. Her marriage was solemnized at Civil Line at the Bungalow of “His Master Voice” a renowned gramophone company’s owners who were closed to Malick Chuni Lal .There was great pump and show. At the bungalow. I also saw sound proof recording room of “His Master Voice”. Dhaneshwar Chadha was living with elder brother in Chandni Chowk at the time of his marriage. For short period they lived with him but after the marriage and then they took their house at Jawahar Nagar on rent. Dhaneshwar Chadha was care free man as I think he had enough money to pull on his life. I used to visit their house whenever I used to go Jawahar Nagar to see Bhua Shanti.

My cousin Swaran d/o my Bhua was married to Dev Raj Chandihok (who was  in Railways), also expired at their Lodhi Road Railway quarters. My cousin could never get peace  though out her married life because of very stiff attitude of my brother in-law Dev Raj Chandhiok and her over simplicity. She had five daughters and one son (Rakesh) and all were not much grown and were still to be married. What I feel the cause of their male adjustment was: firstly the physical incompatibility. Dev Raj was over 6 feet in height, where as Swarn was about 5 feet in height and second reason could be the dominance of Dev Raj’s  sister, Motia who was physical handicapped  “Kubi” and was unmarried. Swarn also was not  mentally so sharp.

Though there were customers at the shop and my father was expert in marketing also but even then the capital was evaporating , Stocks were depleting and debts were increasing day by day. There was no bad habit except a casual smoking of ‘biri’. (In good days he used to smoked good quality of cigarettes). There was no fun and fairs also. Chhata though a Tehsil Head Quarter was a small village.  By and large my education expenses were borne by my massi. We could not understand what was going wrong? My father needed more money for the shop. From where could he get the money? There were no resources. No friend or relative to help. Ultimately my father asked by mother for’ Ilachi’ (shape) double round gold necklace to be sold. ‘Ilachies’ of the necklace were of solid gold and it was very heavy in weight. To wear the necklace two rounds had to been given around the neck. I think my mother must have refused to give this necklace to my father. After great persuasions my mother agreed to give the necklace with condition if ‘Pal’ (I) said yes. When I came from Delhi on holidays, my mother called me and told me all this with her broken heart. My father also called me and told that he was in trouble and the shop could not run without money. He also told me that he had asked my mother to give her the necklace to be sold so that the business can run. I was put to a test. If I tell my father I cannot say yes then he would be in problem. He was the only earning member in our large family. If he did not work, how the family would get their livelihood and if I tell my mother to give the necklace she would be broken. She did not have much of the jewelry. After giving great thought I asked my father whether he would be able to run the shop profitably after he gets the necklace. My father assured me and my mother. I had to tell my mother that there was no other option but to give the necklace as our father would not be in position to run the shop and if he could run the shop properly and profitably, he may be in a position to purchase the necklace one day. My mother had to part with the necklace with heavy hearts, at my saying. It must be of more that 20 tolas.

I left for Delhi. I don’t remember how and where he disposed of the necklace and how much money he got but the position did not improve even thereafter. What could be the cause for the failures? There was no system of accounting. How much actually he was earning even though the sale was normal . Was not the expenditure more then the earning?  Was not the earning declining due to partial attention my father to the shop? Was he not spending much of the time in social settlements? Was the shop was at the mercy of my brother Inder mainly? Were the expenditures uncontrollable for meager need of the family? Was the expenditure more on social obligations? Was there no proper management of the time material and finances (of the shop)? Was the expenditure on the education more? (When my educational expenditure and expenses lodging were mostly borne by my massi and my younger brothers Inder and Ashok were only school going beside my sister Nirmal all in lower classes. It was correct that he was the only earning member and there was no support from any one and he was not to support any one except to meet the domestic expenditure and some social obligations because of vast web of relations. We cannot pin point to single cause. My father was very hard working, self respecting and very social. It was unfortunate that he remained under strains through out his life after the partition. I feel  through out he remained very uncomfortable and he never exposed his strains and problems to any one. Despite bad health, mental strain, low income, high expenditure and incongruity of his sons he never begged or borrowed for the domestic and social needs. Was it was own doing or ‘Purav Karam’ or bad stars? This needs analysis for those who want to learn some thing from these situations.

My chacha Suraj Parkash was living at Sham Nagar in Delhi and my chachi Sheela was sick and was having low fever for the last many months and was not getting any relief. There was no body to look after her. My father brought chachi to Chatta to be looked after by our family members and she was given some home treatment as she was not get any relief from the allopathic medicines. It was a small village with no doctor. Some body suggested for certain herbs which were available around the village for the low fever were given. Those days I was at Chhata. I used to collect these herbs from the surroundings and those were boiled and given to her. My sister Kamla was the main to look after her besides my mother. Whenever, I was there I also used to look after her.  But there was no relief from the fever. We informed chachi’s parents. Chachi’ mother came from Dehradun to see her. Some body suggested us to take her X-Ray. I took chachi ji to Civil Hospital, Mathura to get her X-Ray. Chachi’s mother accompanied me. When I went to the X-Ray operator and told him that I wanted X-Ray of my chachi and he asked me for which part of the body X-Ray was required? I did not know any thing about it and no body had guided me at Chhata. The right way was that we should have gone to some Doctor for consultation and got his recommendations but it never occurred to us and I did not have any idea about it. The X-Ray operator was nice enough, after listening to the problems; he suggested for the X-Ray of her chest. I deposited the fee and got her X-Ray. The operator told me that she was suffering from T.B. We returned Chaata and told my parents. As my chacha was not taking care of her, it needed serious long treatment. Ultimately chachi’s mother took her to Dehradun for proper treatment. They took one room in a hotel Victoria near railway station as they had very limited space in their house and started her treatment from a specialist. She was kept in that hotel till she recovered fully. I went there to see her at the hotel at Dehradun along with my father. The whole expenditure of the hotel and treatment was borne by my chachi’s parents. They were wise very nice people.

In the mean while I joined bank service at Yamuna Nagar. After some times, loosing every penny, my parents shifted to Mathura where they could built a house on 200 yard plot which they had already purchased for Rs.200/- in Krishna Nagar, a refugee colony, mostly with their own labour. When she fully recouped my chachi was brought her back to Delhi by my chacha where he had taken a room at rent in Sham Nagar. But my chacha had no regular income. My chachi was neglected by my chacha through out he could not pay the rent even. Whatever my father could do he was doing but that was not enough. Ultimately they shifted with bag and baggage to Mathura. Moreover, my chacha never wanted that she should live at Mathura even though they have shifted to Mathura with all the bag and baggage vacating their house at Sham Nagar. After some his parents took her Dehradun.  After her marriage most of the times she has been living and being looked after by her parental family.

There were summer holidays in the college and I went to Palampur to meet my grand parents (when my grand father was alive) who were still living there along with my bhua Rani and his son Krishan and chacha Baldev with chachi Raj who were recently married but I had not seen her. All were very happy to see me there. I met Raj chachi for the first time. She was healthy, soft spoken and “milansar”. One day an old lady came to our house and asked my dadi the quality of the clothes which I was wearing. The clothes were of a little superior quality but she told some thing inferior. Taking that the lady was a local illiterate I said “Jat ki Jane Kokle Path bhere kha”. I under estimated her and thought she would not understand my words but I was very much ashamed when she reacted softly by saying “Beta asi un parh ki Janiay inah chija nu” (Son, how can we the illiterate know such thing). I could not say sorry  but from the core of my heart I was much ashamed and apologetic.

After staying there for a few days I was ready to return Delhi when the news came on All India Radio that after heavy rains there was flood around Pathankot. Road and Railway lines had submerged under water. Road and Railway Services had been suspended. My return to Delhi was must as after two days there was “Mundan” of Anil Sethi, my cousin (first son of my massi Ram Piari). My grand father understood my position. Incidentally on the first floor of our house one Sardar family was residing and they told my grandfather that they (Mr.  & Mrs.) were going to Batala and told my grand father that they would arrange for my passage from Batala and would keep me with them. My grandfather was satisfied and he allowed me to go with them. From Palampur we took bus for Pathankot and from here we took bus for Batala as there was flood and roads and railway lines were under water in Batala. (In those days the road and railway route for Delhi Pathankot was via Amritsar only and there was no road or railway link from Jallandhar to Pathankot). Batala city it self was under deep water. The Bus operators told us before giving the tickets that we would have to get down at out skirt of Batala. When we reached at the out skirt of Batala, we found Batala city was under deep water. We took two Rickhwas for Batala Police Station. Our Rickshaw rowed through the water and we reached Police Station.

The S.H.O of Batala Police Station was their close relative. The police Station was also under water by two to three feet. They were putting their books and other things on their big tables putting a few bricks under them. We had to stand there in water for some times. Sardani was immediately sent to the place where SHO’s family was staying. The SHO sent his man to find some place in the city where we could stay at night. His man came and took us to one place where there was no water, but at night it was their drink time, They were excepting that I would also join them but I refused politely. But they were adamant for my joining them and they left no stone un-turned to force me to join their drink. Under the influence of liquor they used very harsh words for me. I was frighten but did not yield to their pressure. I could not sleep whole night due to the fear. Next morning a news came that one train would start from Batala station at 11.00 AM for Amritsar; I immediately rushed to the station. It was about nine, I begged leave from them. Ultimately I got the train up to Amritsar and from Amritsar I got train for Delhi at night. When I reached Darya Ganj, the hairs of Anil were already cut just a little before my reaching but my massi, maser ji and my parents were in panic and were eagerly waiting for me. Anil was the first child of my massi, Rampiari who was born after a long time after her marriage. Even though a girl was born to her at Holly Family Hospital,  Murree Road at Rawalpindi but she died in the Hospital after her birth.

At Delhi most of my college expenditure was borne by my massi. My father tried to give some money but my massi and masser ji did not accept. On clothes also much of the expenditure was borne by her. Once, my Shanti massi purchased full length of the shirting ‘than’ for me. In those days I used to wear white pent and white shirts only. Whenever I used to go Chhata on holidays my mother used to search all corner of her saving and used to give all her collections to me despite my telling that I don’t need it. Even on the last moment of my departure if she found a single coin from some where she would push it into my pocket. Time to time my massi Shanti was giving some thing or the other to me on my visit to Chhata.

As usual I was active more in extra curricular activities then my studies in the college. In Delhi University and in other colleges affiliated to it there was students union but in our college there was a Parliamentary system. Our College elected Vijay Kumar Malhotra as premier and he constituted his cabinet as per Delhi University rules. There were Home minister, Sports minister, Cultural minister and many more cabinet ministers with different portfolios along with a Secretary Parliament. Tarlok Nath Makan was Secretary. Vishnu Swroop was Home Minister and Kapil Dev was Sports Minister. I was nominated as a representative from the college to represent Delhi University Union. Each minister was supposed to look after the various activities of the College. The ruling party formed its political wing in the name of ‘Rationalist Union’. Vijay Kumar Malhotra was the President  and I was the General Secretary.

Once, Shree Guru M.S. Golwalkar  was to come to Delhi. We approached the local authorities of RSS to request Guru ji to preside over our College function, of course with the permission of the College Bursar Prof Bhagwan Das and Principal Dr. G.L. Datta. They gave us the time and date. A grand arrangement was made for the function, which was the first of its kind in the College. From College side Prof. Bhagwan Das was the in charge and he was supposed to supervise the arrangements but actual arrangement for the function was to be made by College Parliament and the Rationalist Union. The members of the union and the Parliament made personal efforts to ensure that the arrangement should be best possible with the minimum expenditure. The timing of the functions was 4.00 PM. Prof. Bhagwan Das was very much enthusiastic about the function and used to tell every body that the function would start at 4.00 p.m dot. It happened also. At dot at 4 p.m Shree Guru Ji was on the dais . The function starting with the welcome and introduction of Shree Guru Ji, then there was speech of Guru Ji and at the end there was vote of thanks by Dr. G.L. Datta, the Principal. When the bills for expenditures were presented to the college authorities they were surprised to see that the actual expenditure was just half to their estimation.

Next day, when we went to the college the walls of the college were pasted with the posters “Over through the present Government”. CID team immediately rushed to our college. After reading the contents of the poster they started making the enquires from the students and the college management.  They were satisfied that was no threat or conspiracy against the Government of India but it was to Government constituted in the college and it was the internal game of the College. The poster was issued by the students opposed to us and the RSS.

I think it was 1949 a meeting was held at Barakhamba Road at the residence of Lalla Hans Raj Gupta who the Sangh Chalak of Delhi State. All India prominent RSS leaders including Shree Guru Ji and Vasant Rao Oak who was a powerful Parcharak of Delhi were present and decision was taken to form Political Party. As I was non entity I was sitting in the verandah. After a few days first session of Jan Sangh was held in a School (name I don’t remember) near cannaught Place and its formation was declared. Murli Manohar Sharma (joshi) of Karol Bagh was made the acting President.  My friend Nijhawan CPI Card holder also went there with me and he appreciated its formation and he told me that if the party adopted socialism also he would also join it. I told him that Hinduism has more socialism then any other isms. He was not to join Jan Sangh being card holder of CPI but from his core I felt he was much impressed by the session.

Vijay Kumar Malhotra joined our college for two years for doing his MA in Hindi. His father Kaviraj Khazan Chand had an Ayurvedic Pharmacy at Hauz Kazi, on the first floor. After the college,  I often used to go to his father’shop  and used to call him down in the bazaar as his father did not like his taking part in other activities. Though his father never told me anything flatly but his tone used to be as such. Vijay Kumar became active in politics of Jan Sangh. He used to go RSS Karyala (office) in Chawari Bazaar where he used to do practice of  Public Speaking and  I used to accompany him. I used to visit  his house occasionally which was in Govt. quarters at panchkuian Road and used to meet his short stature grand father who was normally found doing some physical exercises in the Varandah. In 1950 or 1951, Wishwa Nathan who had done his M,A. in Economics from DAV College, Jallandher also joined the politics at Delhi.  He took a room on rent adjacent of my Bhua Daya’s house, where Inder Nath a Senior Press Correspondent of Daily Partap (whose Editor was Narinder s/o Mahasha Krishan) was also living. A delegation of Kashmiri Students wanted to see the Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru to express their resentment against maltreatment given to the Hindu students in Kashmir. There was no Unit of ABVP at Delhi. I was made the president of the ABVP of  Delhi state and was to accompany the delegation to meet the Prime Minister. As Pt. Nehru was not available, we met his secretariat and gave the memorandum. Next day there was news in daily The News Papers.

There were Corporation elections in 1951. Jan Sang fought its first election on its symbol.  Its office was at Ajmere Gate on the first floor in two small rooms. Vijay Kumar Malhotra was made publicity secretary and I was made chief reporter. There was dearth of speakers. God sent Wishwa Nathan who had recently come to Delhi was an eloquent speaker. The party also got Ms. Raj Ahuja an excellent speaker. These two were the only speakers on whose strength the Party fought the election. There was not a single speaker worth the name besides them.

Once,  my sister Kamla went to Jaipur to see her nani but after a few days she began to feel absence of her parents as she had never gone away from the family alone. She started weeping and insisted for going back to Chhata despite my nani’s persuasions. A letter to this effect was written by mama to my father at Chhata to take her back. In turn my father wrote me and asked me to fetch her from Jaipur. From Delhi I went to Jaipur and brought her and left her at Chhata.

Unpardonable blunder:  My mother was to go Jaipur to see her mother. She came from Chhata to Delhi and I was to get her boarded at Old Delhi station for Jaipur at night. When we reached Railway station we found that the train was already stationed at the meter gauge platform. I get her boarded in one of the compartments. After some times, the train steamed off. I was little perplexed how the train had steamed off before its departure time as its departure time was a little late. I took that the timings might have changed.  After the departure of the train I came back home. After a few days of her stay at Jaipur when she came back to Delhi she revealed that I had got her boarded on a wrong train. The train on which I sent her was going to Bikaner and not to Jaipur. On the way when the ticket checker came to check her ticket, he told her that that train was going to Bikaner. She was in mid way to Bikaner and it was mid night. She kept her presence of mind and asked the Ticket collector for the help as she was all alone. The ticket collector was a nice man; he did not charge for the default but guided her and helped her to get down at some  coming junction from where the train for Jaipur was available. She got down at the  junction station and boarded the train for Jaipur. Ultimately she reached Jaipur very late during the day and my mama already gone back after checking the Delhi train in the morning and they were very much worried. When mother reached home, she narrated the whole incidence. My mama rebuked  me to the maximum extend  and told her how care less I was. My mama told her that such like things could not be expected from me and further said her that I was neither an illiterate nor a small child. Before my mother left Jaipur my mama advised my mother not to tell my father about this incidence. This was what my mother told me without any irritation. From core of  my  heart I felt that I had committed an unpardonable  blunder by sending her all alone in the wrong train and that too at night. I could not say sorry to her, as no amount of my regrets could compensate my blunder and the inconvenience and harassment caused to her.

When I was studying, one Sindhi Businessman approached me that I should teach him Hindi and agreed to pay me the fee. I was regularly going to his house to teach him. I went on to him for teaching for more than a month, when I asked for the fee he told me that he could not get the satisfaction and he told me that he won’t pay me any thing.  I was aghast  I told him that if he was not satisfied he should have told me in the beginning or the middle of the month that he was not satisfied. I further told him it was not fair  but he did not agree to pay. I went to his residence twice or thrice  for my fee but he refused to pay.

Once, during my studies I thought of doing some job in my spare time, before or after my college times. I wrote letter to the Editor Statesman, a Delhi News Paper. They appreciated my approaching them and offered half Anna for each sale of their News Paper and I was required to collect their paper from their press at Cannaught Place early in the morning. After getting the offer I reviewed whether I would be able to get the customers for Statesman as most to the New Paper reader around us were of Hindustan Times. I found that I might not be successful to get sufficient number of customers and get adequate return. I abandoned this idea.

My parents shifted to in the back rooms of the shop.  Then after  my mama, Mangal Sain Shifted to Delhi my parents shifted to their house in the Sarai.  There they were keeping hens and getting eggs regularly (for use and not for sale).

In 1952 for the first time “Free style wresting” were held in Delhi and these wrestling were held in a stadium near India Gate New Delhi. They needed some “ushers” to man the gates and receive the viewers. I received a letter from the Employment Exchange where I had got my name registered just after I appearing  in my B.A. final examination. I immediacy joined them. I was given duty just near the Ring to take the viewers their  seat which was numbered.  it was the place  from where I could view the match very clearly. Other wise most of the employees were given the duty on the various Gates. I earned while I watched the wrestling. There were number of wrestlers from all over the World. I can recall only the names of King Kong, Tiger Joginer Singh, Dara Singh and Harry among them.

I appeared in my final examination of B.A. from Delhi University in April 1952. Now, I was free, I left for Chhata. My massar ji (Janki Nath’s)  one of the salesmen, Mukand Lal incidentally came there . He was to go on tour for business. My masser ji told me to accompany him. I would get an opportunity to see many places and would get some experience. He told his salesman that he was to bear all my expenses for traveling, boarding and lodging and I was not to be paid any extra money for accompanying him. I got a good opportunity to visit many places without incurring any thing. My parents also agreed to the proposal. It was the beginning of the summer.  From Chhata we went to Eastern U.P. Gonda, Bariach, Nepal Ganj. Nepal Ganj was in Nepal but Nepal Ganj  was  the last Indian station. From Nepal Ganj Road we got a Tonga for Nepal Ganj. On the way to Nepal Ganj he purchased a few packets of Cigarettes at Gonda . However he did not get any order at Nepel Ganj but he sold all those cigarettes packets there and told me at least we had recovered our expenses.  Cigarettes were costlier in Nepal Ganj and also scarce. After staying there for a few hours, we came back Nepal Ganj Road on Tonga and from Nepal Gang Road we went by  train to  Bariach.  At Bariach I got Diarrhea and remained on bed for two days. I used to take curd only. From here we went to one station on the bank of Saryu River (I don’t remember the name of the station) which was just across Ayoudhya.  Vaccination was must before we could cross the River Saryu for Ayoudhya but some how we escaped and got on the Steamer and reached on the other side Saryu and we were on one of the ghats of Saryu in Ayoudya. For the first time I traveled in a Steamer. At Ayoudhya (Faizabad) Mukand Lal’s son’s in-laws family  was living. Before going Mukand Lal had informed about his and mine arrival to them. We stayed at their residence and visited some mandirs at Ayoudhya (which I cannot recall now). After staying there for two days we returned Chhata.  Our whole journey must have been more than a fortnight at different places and it was educative for me.

The result of my B.A. was approaching. I had a genuine fear that I may not be able to get through as I knew my performance in the examination was not good. I started hunting for the job. I used to apply against various advertisements but was not getting any response. There was one vacancy of the accounts clerk. When I applied the job I wrote them that I know double and triple entry system of accountancy. Thank God they did not call me for interview otherwise I would have been humiliated as I never knew the meaning of the double entry system and the triple entry system was in fool’s paradise. In the mean while  my result of B.A. was out of bag and I failed in English and Hindi and was declared unsuccessful. Mentally I should have been disturbed but I, as far as I can recall, I was not as it was not against my expectations. Before our session (1952) there used to be supplementary examinations but from this year the University stopped the supplementary examinations. The University did not allow the private students to appear in the examination but university made an exceptions for their unsuccessful candidates to get  the chance to take the examinations in the successive two years i.e. now I could appear in the examination as private candidate in  April, 1953 and April,1954. Earliest it was April 1953. It was a long one year for the next examination. I was shuttling from Delhi to Chhata and from Chhata to Delhi. At DelhiI I was trying for some job and used to apply for the various vacancies appearing the news papers but could not get any response. Once I got an interview from a private firm at  Bagirath Palace, Chandni Chowk.  He agreed to employ me at the monthly salary of Rs.100/- but told clearly that it was a private firm and I would have to do all sort of work, even taking care of their children some times. I asked for the time to think over it. He agreed to give me three days to decide. Salary was alright in the beginning but what were hovering in mind were his words that I had to take care of  his children also. I could not digest these words and I never imagine that, that could be the part of the service also as I had just come from the college’s fun and fare. Now I was in the real world.  What was my value! I was neither a matriculate, nor intermediate, nor a graduate. However, I never went to him again. What I would do?  This pressure was also not visible on my face.

It was middle of July, 1953 one day one Pandit ji came to meet masser ji’ at our house at Darya Ganj. He was regular visitor to this house to meet my masser ji and I had met him several times earlier also. I cannot recall if  any body asked him about my job or I asked him. I don’t have any horoscope nor we had ever used it. I don’t remember if he saw my hand or forehead  but abruptly  told me that I would be getting a job before 15th August.  It was either end of June or beginning of July. There was no job insight especially because of my qualifications. I took him casually as I believed that what ever Pandits normally tell usually proves to be false especially when there is no sign of clouds and how there can be rain.

As I was free I used to pay courtesy call to many of my relatives in Delhi. Naturally they used ask me what was I doing . My reply used to be that I was preparing for the examination privately and searching for some job also. Once I went to ‘Guddi’ Bhua’ (Krishna Chadha daughter of my father’s massi) . She was living in the main bazaar of Pahar Ganj on the first floor, above the commercial shops. She asked me the same question and my reply also was usual. She told me why I don’t meet Kundan Lal Bhapa ji; his brother in-law is a  big officer in The Punjab National Bank Limited. Bhapa Kundan Lal Kohli had a big Show Room at G.B. Road. He was assisted by his eldest son Satesh Kohli and his two sons were at Patna.  The firm was named as M/s Hazura Mal Kundan Lal Kohli. Hazura Mal was his grandfather. Instead of affixing the Name of his father he had affixed the name of his Grand Father Hazura Mal (father of my grand mother). For the reasons mentioned earlier, he was not keeping good relation with his father. The very next day in the forenoon I went to Bhapa Kundan Lal at his Show Room. Incidentally he was at his shop. After paying my respect I told the purpose of my coming to him.  Immediately he picked up the phone and dialed the number of Amar Singh Puri who was  younger brother of his wife and was Assistant Secretary Staff in ‘The Punjab National Bank Limited at its H.O. 7, Under Hill Road, Civil lines. Amar Singh was the supreme authority in Staff in the Bank. Immediately he asked Amar Singh if he knew ‘Achraj Lal’ (my father), his reply was affirmative. Then he told him that he was sending his son (Pal), give him an appointment in your Bank.  After telling him he told me go to Punjab National Bank at Head Office and meet him. He did not allow me to go home and sent me straight to his office. When I reached at PNB H.O. at Civil Lines, I enquired about where about of Amar Singh Puri. It was a lunch time. One of the employees who was standing the courtyard while pointing toward a man he told me that he was there in the verandah and he was just to enter in the room of H.L. Bedi, P.A to the Chairman, Yodh Raj Bhalla. I immediately picked my speed and met him when he was just to enter the room. I told him that I had been sent by Kohli Sahib. He told me to wait and meet him here after about half an hour. After about half an hour, he came out of the room along with another man, (P.A.of the Chairman, H.L. Bedi). He took me to P.A.’s room and told me to sit on a sofa besides him and brought a sheet of white paper and told me to type half page on the typewriter lying nearby in Bedi’s room and told me that I could get appointment in Bihar only as they already had a surplus staff who had migrated from Pakistan and they were to  be given appointments on priority basis and they too were being sent to Bihar. I told that I was to appear in B.A. examination of Delhi University and had to consult the tutor here and requested him that I be given an appointment at Delhi. ‘There is not an even one percent chance for Delhi’, he told me. ‘If I wanted appointment, I will have to go Bihar. There was no vacancy nearby even. After getting his response,  I went back to Kundan Lal Bhapa ji Shop and gave him the feed back. After listening me he again picked up the phone and told him authoritatively to give me some station near by told his that he was sent me back. He told me to meet him again next day and tell me if he again showed any un-willingness. Next morning I again went to PNB H.O office. Puri’s office was on first floor and his room was at left corner of the Hall. Number of employees were working there on table-chairs. Out side his room there was one cabin for the Manager Staff. (O.P. Gupta). In the hall I enquired about the A.S. Puri and I was singled toward his room. I told the peon who was sitting out side his room that I wanted to see Puri Sahib. The peon took my name and went inside and came back to tell me that I could meet him. When I went inside he told me to sit. While I sat there he called for Staff Manager O.P. Gupta ( who later became the Chairman of the Bank) and enquired about any vacancy in near by Delhi. He told there was vacancy at ‘Baraut’ (U.P.). He told me that I can get appointment for ‘Baraut’ from where I could come weekly and cold prepare for the examination also as it was not far off from Delhi. I told I don’t want to go Baraut. Then he flared up and told me ‘nokri karni hai ki nakhre’ and said then there was no vacancy. I got up and left his room  and straight went to Bhapa Kundan Lal and told the whole dialogue to him and told him I would prefer job in Punjab rather  going to  U.P.  Bhapa ji again picked up the phone and burst at  Puri like any thing.  He commanded him to give me a appointment in Punjab. I was told to meet him again. When I went there and found, he was a bit annoyed. He called one the Staff Assistant who had a grey hair and told him to give me a letter for appointment for Jagadhri (possibly he might have enquired about the vacancy available in Punjab from his Manager or Assistants) after completing the formalities take letter for the one of assistants who call in. When the assistant left the room he told me irritatingly  that now again I would be going to ‘Kundan Lal’ to tell him that also it did not suit me. I said, no,  now I would go. I am satisfied. Then he told me to see the Assistant who had come to him and take letter from him.

Jagadhri was familiar name to me. In School, I had read in my geography that Jagadhri which was famous for Utensils Industries. Otherwise I knew no body there. I thought at least there would be Punjabi Culture. Though, Baraut was near to Delhi I could conveniently come to Delhi and Chhata very often but for this I had no specific reason for my disliking for that place  except in my mind that it would be small dirty village being in U.P.  As desired by Puri Sahib I went to that assistant who told me to bring certificate of education with copies thereof and Rupees One thousand, to be deposited as Security. He told me to come any day after I had arranged all this. I told him it would be difficult to arrange one thousand. He told me to wait and he himself went some where, probably to the Staff  Manger and  came back and told me that I could deposit Rupees Five hundred at the first instance and get Rs.25/- deducted from my salary every month. I left the H.O. with a strain from where to arrange for this money.

I did not want to tell any body that I needed Rs.500/- to deposit with the bank. I kept silent and never told to massi even.  I dropped the idea of taking service with the bank as Rs.500/- was too much to be arranged. After a week or so I went to my sister, Kamla’s house. It was probably Sunday. Ram Parkash my brother in-law was at home. He enquired from me, what had  happened to my service with the bank. I told that I had dropped my idea of joining the Bank as they wanted Rs.1000/- as security, out of which Rs.500/- in advance. He immediately responded that he had Rs.500/- and I could take that amount and deposit the same with the bank as security  and  told me that whatever interest Bank would paying me, I should transfer to his account and further clarified me that he was not to loose any thing. Initially I was reluctant to take the money from him because of the delicate relations with him but he insisted that the money with him was spare and moreover, he would get better interest than what he was getting from his bank. Ultimately I agreed and he brought me Rs.500/-It was probably first week of the August.

From Karol Bagh I straight went to Under Hill Road  and met that very Assistant. He gave me a letter in the name of Dr. Bhan of Kashmiri Gate and told me that I should go to him immediately otherwise he would leave for lunch and bring fitness certificate from him by hand. As I recollect he telephoned him also. He attended me immediacy and gave me the fitness certificate with in half an hour. I handed over the Certificate to the Assistant and the money which he sent to the local branch of the bank through his man and gave me the receipt. When he gave me the letter of appointment, the branch allocated to me was not Jagadhri but it was Jamnanagar. I refused to take the appointment letter and told him that  Puri Sahib had told me that I would be getting Jagadhri. I told him that I would like to meet Puri Sahib He patiently made me to understand that there was no difference between Jamnanagar and Jagadhri and he told me that Jamnanagar was rather better branch as compared to Jagadhri and warned me that if I still went to him for this, he would get annoyed. He told me geography of Jamnanagar and Jagadhri. He further told me that I had to take ticket for Jagadhri and would have to get down at Jagadhri Railway Station. The area just out side Railway Station would be Jamnanagar and Jamnanagar branch would be  just close to Jagadhri Railway Station. Though not completely satisfied, I accepted the letter of appointment.

I went home and told massi  and their family members about my appointment at Jamnanagar and also went to Kamla to tell Ram Parkash about the appointment. He also told me that Jamnanagar was better station than Jagadhri. He further told me that there was Mahasha Mukand Lal who was President of Arya Samaj of Jamnanagar. He told me that he would get me an introduction  letter from his friend and I could stay at Arya Samaj till I get the accommodation. He further told that Arya Samaj was just close to the Jagadhri Railway Station.

I went Chatta to tell my parents and to pack up my luggage. I came back to massi’s house and collected letter from Ram Parkash. I boarded on the passenger train for Jagadhri at about 6.00 a.m. and reached Jagadhri Station around 12 O’clock. It was 13th August .  As per Pandit ji I was to get appointment before 14th August. I don’t know whether Pandit ji’s prediction was based on science or was mere a ‘tooka’ but to me it was a miracle to get a job without any solid qualification.

Dramatic team with Duston, Principal, Christian School, Palampur.
Role in a drama at Palampur
In center. A scene from the drama prayed at Palampur

      

 

CHAPTER –IV It was 11th of April, 1969 I joined Patiala.

PATIALA–CHANDIGARH D.M. OFFICE–JAGADHRI-WORKSHOP–SIWAN.

It was 11th of April, 1969 I joined Patiala, Gur Mandi branch as special Assistant. It was the oldest branch of PNB in Patiala. The branch was on the first floor in the bazaar.  The building was very old one. There was no single Banking Hall. There were four rooms with one store size room. After ascending the stairs from the bazaar when we turn to the left there was store size room for one clerk (RC Garg), one accountant (Bhgawan Singh Multani) with peon (Mukand Lal) for Fixed Deposit, Draft Issue and Cash Book section. Next was, the bigger room which was for one Accountant (Ved Parkash Sharma), four clerks (Kuldeep Singh, TC Malhotra, Kulwant Singh and Surinder Sharma who were on Saving Fund, Current Account, Cash Credit, Draft payable , statements and loans, In the room there was one cabin was for the teller (Desh Mittar Soni). with Ramesh and Tarlochan Singh as peons. Next to this big room was a small room for the Manager (DN  Verma). In there front, there was a court yard partly covered. Just opposite to the stairs there was Cashier’s cabin and behind it was a temporary Strong Room. Amar Nath Sharma was the Head Cashier and Garg as assistant Cashier. There was opening for the Manager’s residence from the court yard. While turning to right after ascending the stairs there was wall giving opening to another smaller court yard with one room, housing Bills, Day Book Dispatch etc. for four clerks (YP Gupta, Harnam Singh, AC Vij, Bhart Bhushan Sharma and Joginder Singh with Dewan Singh as bill collector and one big table for the Special assistant me). Opposite to this there was Daftri room and toilet in the court yard. Jiwan Das Kheterpal was  full time Godown Keeper at Modi Mills.

Reaching the branch, I straight went to Soni, the teller, my old friend from Yamuna Nagar who got me introduced to the staff sitting his room and took me to the Manager’s room. I gave my joining report to the manager. After getting my introduction he asked me on what seats I had worked? I told him, except Bills and Day Book, I had worked on all most all the seats. Manager told me, but here, I had to work as in-charge of Bills, Day Book, Dispatch and Establishment as these duties were assigned to the Special Assistant. I assured him that there would be no problem for me to perform these duties even though I had not worked on these seats.  Then he took me to the bills department and got me introduced to the staff and showed my seat. In the department there were five clerks. Harnam Singh was on Inwards bills (branches) ,Yash Pal Gupta (retired as Zonal Manager, Agra) was on Inwards bills (parties), Brij Bhushan Sharma was on outwards bills including DDs , AC Vij was on Dispatch (All on counter), the fifth seat on a table for Day Book and Establishment for Joginder Singh. There was one peon-cum-bill collector, Bhagwan Singh who was a ‘Sevadar’ of Gurudwara Shri Dukh Nivaran Sahib. While Dewan Singh immediately arranged for the tea, after my occupying the seat, I called Harnam Singh and YP Gupta to my table and told them frankly that I had not worked on Inwards Bills and requested them, what ever they do they should explain me its working and procedure. Likewise I called Joginder Singh, the Day Book writer also. They assured me of their full co-operation. All the five clerks were very nice. Gupta took extra pains; not only he explained the working of the departments under me but even took charge of the correspondence related to the bills for the time being.

 Yash Pal Gupta was post graduate and very intelligent.  He told me that while as an apprentice, he had taken training from Jai Gopal Kapahai (retired as Chief Manager, Jallandhar, Civil Lines) at Chandigarh in the batch of new appointees. Gupta and Jai Gopal Kapahai had RSS leanings and Gupta might have come to know that I also had RSS back ground. Even otherwise  he became  friendly and he ensured that I should have a smooth sailing in the office.

Desh Mitter Soni who was trade union leader of the branch and who considered me as his elder brother and had already made grounds for my strong footings in the branch before my joining. Soni had worked as temporary clerk at Yamuna Nagar where I was also a clerk. His brother-in-law, Khosla (his sister’s husband) was Accountant in Sarswati Sugar Mills, owned by DD Puri one time Congress M.P. and son of renowned lawyer of Lahore, Dewan Badri Dass (who successfully fought the case for the possession of Gurdwra Sheesh Ganj Delhi, which was under the possession of the British Government.

Harnam Singh was also a post graduate but he was in the habit of taking alcohol, even during the office hours. Earlier, he used to keep the alcohol in his drawer in a dose marked bottle (used for giving the medicine mixture by the dispensers) and used to take the alcohol in presence of my predecessor telling that it was a dose of medicine.  After my joining he hide the bottle in the Daftri’s room and after every two or three hours he used to leave his seat for a few minutes and would come back after taking his dose to his seat ensuring that I should not be able to see his face. I did not know whether he changed this course due to any fear or out of regard. The fear, there could not be, as unions were very strong in those days. Even the managers were helpless to take any action against any misdeeds of the employees. However, he was very close to Soni.

  Bharat Bhushan Sharma’s father, Sant Ram Sharma was a Special Assistant at our Mall Road Office and he was also working as Manager in one of the Cinema houses at Mall Road privately and this fact was a known to every one. Bharat Bhushan used to slip from the office every Friday at 11 O’clock from the office for one and half hour. After my joining he could not slip without telling me. He found a way and used to take my permission for going to the Hospital and I used to permit. Later on, in normal course, I came to know that he used to go to see the English movie during this period. One Friday, when he did not come to take my permission I called Bharat Bhushan and asked him, was he not going to the Hospital that Friday? He gave me a smile and said that he had come to know that I was aware , where he used to go. He touched my legs (not feet) and said ‘Sethi Sahib you are great, even after knowing this you were permitting me. I told him that I must believe my colleagues what they say and more over there was nothing on record to show that he was going to see the movie and when he was doing his job satisfactorily without affecting the bank working even if he has to sit late to finish his work.

  Joginder Singh was also a post graduate and was silent worker. He used to remain busy in his work without much talking and was perfect in his duties. He was also close to Soni. Day Book was written timely, daily extract (for Inter-branch transactions) were ready and posting of the Progressive Book, Subsidiary and General Ledgers were done on the same day. Timely weekly statement of affair was ready  and some times on Saturday it self. The monthly Revenue Statement was ready immediately after the last Friday of the month. The Salary bill was ready when the salary was to be disbursed. There was no occasion when I  had to remind him of any thing.

N.C vij was silent worker at the dispatch. He was so silent that it was not felt that he was in the office. It took me no time to grasp the working of the Day Book also. (During my tenure TC Malhotra and RC Garg joined my department, replacing Harnam Singh and BB Sharma).

The working of the departments were under my effective control within a week due to meaningful cooperation of my colleagues. Our department was just like a family where discipline was self-imposed. It took me no time to understand the nature of my staff, their weakness and their virtues. I never exploited any body’s weakness despite my knowing them. I knew, every one had virtues and I tried to exploit those virtues to the benefit of the bank. As per my nature, I used to affix ‘Ji’ with everyone, even with the subordinate staff when I used to call them and I had the patience to listen to everybody. This gave me extra edge to be one of them.

When I joined, in the evening DM Soni taller waited for me to take me to his house. I already had come with a mind to stay with him till I get the accommodation and bring my family. He was unmarried. I accompanied Soni that day. He took me to a hotel and we had our food. He told me from next day he had arranged a cook at his house. I told him that following day I would be going Yamuna Nagar as it was ‘Bisakhi Holiday. At night Yash Pal Gupta also came to his house to see me and I requested him to find a house for me as I wanted to bring my family at the earliest.  After a few days they managed one room with a kitchen in the Verandah on the first floor, near Arya Samaj. It was sufficient for me keeping in view the rent but I stayed with Soni for more than a fortnight and enjoyed his hospitality. On a few occasions I used to have  dinner  with Gupta also.

After getting the accommodation, one Saturday, our luggage was packed when I came to Yamuna Nagar.  On Sunday morning we came to Railway station with the luggage and a few friends of mine had also reached Railway station to see us off.  It was full luggage on the transfer. It was ordinary passenger train; the compartment was general III class. When the train came we pushed the luggage with great difficulties as there was a great rush and the stoppage was for only two minutes. One of my friends, Jadish Lal Khera who had also come to the Railway Station to see me off , felt that it would be difficult for me to carry the luggage all alone to Patiala, as at Ambala Cantt., Railway station we again had to change the train for Patiala with the luggage. When the trained steamed off, Khera also jumped in the compartment abruptly telling that he would accompany us and would return in the evening and told Gomber who had also come to see me to convey the message to his family. He was really a great to be so concerned about my difficulties.  We found the transferring the luggage from one train to the other at Ambala was very difficult and at Patiala also taking our luggage to the house which was on the first floor was not possible without his help. After getting my luggage properly staged he returned by the evening train. My daughter, Renu could not accompany us as her last paper was after two days and she had to stay with one of our close families of Hakim Mehar Singh whose daughter Avdesh Kaur I used to teach when I used to teach privately. She came after three days with my friend Makhan Lal Bhugra, an Assistant Inspector who was inspecting Mall Road branch but he did not accept the Railway fare of Renu. At Yamuna Nagar, I did not gave my house on rent to any one. However, I gave one of the rooms and kitchen to Prem Rehani who was building inspector in Yamuna Nagar Municipal Committee with the condition that I would  not charge any rent from him.

Rekha, Rakesh and Rajeev did not have any problem in getting the admission in the Schools. Ravi was still under age but there was problem to get admission for Renu. Jain Girls School was close to our bank and residence and they were having their account with our branch and the bank staff had good rapid with the School administration. But despite all this, they refused to admit Renu in the School  as she had not studied Punjabi (Gurmukhi) in her earlier Classes. She was probably in 4th class and Punjabi was compulsory subject in Punjab. 4th class exams were taken by the Board and School did not want  that their result be bad in the Board. We assured the School administration that she was intelligent enough to pick up Punjabi in a short time but they were not prepared to take the risk. Ultimately we requested them that she be allowed to sit in the class as casual student and in case she picked up Punjabi with in three months she be admitted as regular student, for which they agreed. Renu was not only intelligent but had an art of making her presence felt wherever she went. She not only picked up Punjabi script within three months, she became very popular when she took part in School cultural Programme and her song ‘Mammy Te Daddy Kithe Gai…..’ became so popular that she was known by ‘Mammy te Daddy Kithe Gai’ and she was admitted as regular student later.

Now, I was well Settled in the office and working of my department was fully under my control.  Before we could complete one month in the rented house, our colleague Ved Parkash Kakkar who was working at Ambala City Branch came to me with a proposal that he had his house near to our office at Shahi Samadhah and asked me to take that house on rent. The house had two rooms with kitchen with small court yard also. A rent was a little higher but it was independent house. The house suited us and we shifted to new house.

The Bank recently introduced Housing Loan Scheme for the staff at a concessional rate of 4% and the Head Office used to allocate quota to each District (Region) every year and in turn the District Manager used to sanction loan to the employees of his District within a quota allotted to him every year. The maximums limit for the construction/reconstruction of the loan was Rs.25, 000/- only. I applied for the loan and luckily my loan was sanctioned for Rs.25, 000/- in the first instance for the reconstruction my house which I had purchased at Yamuna Nagar for Rs.10.000/- a few months earlier. The amount was to be released in three stages. Prem Rehani who was my tenant in my house prepared the building plan and got it sanctioned from the Municipal Committee. The loan was to be released after creating equitable mortgage of my house, which could be created either at Delhi or at Chandigarh. I got the equitable mortgage created at Sector-17 Chandigarh branch by depositing the title deed of my house.  After the sanction of the loan I wrote my father that I had been sanctioned the Housing Loan and he should come and get the house constructed. He came and I got the first installment of the loan released (Rs.5000/- e.g. 20 %) after execution of the document at the Branch Office and remitted the amount to Yamuna Nagar office for credit to my saving fund account and authorised my friend, Niranjan Das (who was working at the branch) to withdraw as per requirement for the construction of the house and  also requested him  to assist my father in arranging the building materials from the market as per requirement. Nirmal and Ravi stayed on at Yamuna Nagar. Ravi was not of  School going age.

As it was a kacha house (mud walls and roof with wooden beam and bricks tiles) the whole structure was required to be demolished but the mud walls were so strong that the ‘Sambal’ (the pulling instruments), even though it was made of  strong thick  iron bar, banded.  My father decided to retain the walls of the big room and front wall of the Verandah and got demolished the old structure and started reconstructing the house. I used to come on every Saturday evening, reaching home after 7.00 p.m. and I used to find my father standing under the lamp pole on the road side waiting for me. He had the complete knowledge of the building construction and he used to tell the mason himself the ratio of cement and the sand to be used for every particular construction work.

In those days, the construction of the walls of the house was done with clay and bricks. Instead of purchasing the clay from the market he got the ground in front of the house dug and used the ground clay for the construction  of the house and after the completion of the house he got the pit filled with the demolished material (malba) of the house which was very huge. Thus he saved the money on the clay required for the construction and carriage for lifting the ‘malba’. Once, he found one of the mason was wasting the material, he immediately paid him off. In those days the wages of the mason was Rs.10/- and that of the labour was Rs.5/. per day. My father was assisted by Mehta Som Datt Chhiber a retired overseer of P.W.D (B & R) who was also looking after the constructions for D.A.V College. He used to visit to see the progress without any remuneration.  The cement bag’s was  Rs.12/- and the bricks were Rs.60/- per thousand. After completion of the plinth level I got the second installment of the Loan and out which I deposited Rs.2000/- in the bank account of J.C.Dhir who had given me at the time of purchase of the house without disclosing him as he might refuse to take the money till I could complete my house, (as hinted by him once) though he himself had purchased one house near our ground and he also was to start its constriction.

Demolishing and construction of the house was a long and tedious process. My wife, Nirmal was keeping ‘Pardah’ from my father. Ravi was the mediator.  He used to ask Ravi how the construction was looking and he used to get Okay-ed from him. My ‘Chacha’ Suraj Parkash who was suffering from paralysis,was also staying here. As it was a long process I used to come every Saturday and go back Patiala every Monday morning.  I used to come emptied haned. Once,  when I came here, Madan Lal Jain of Jain Cloth house gave me the woolen shawl to be delivered to his brother-in-law (Sala) at Patiala. On Monday morning I was to go back,  I was sitting on a bench of the Railway Platform, waiting for the train to come but when the train came I forgot to lift the shawl from the bench. While I was in the train I became conscious that I had left the Shawl at Jagadhri Platform. Immediately, reaching Patiala I phoned Gomber to go to the Railway Station and find out if the Shawl could be located. He visited the place where I had left the Shawl and also enquired from the Railway Staff  but it could not be located and he phoned me back accordingly. In the evening I went to Jain’s brother-in-law’s shop at Anar Dana Bazaar where he was having the cloth shop and told him that one of my dear had taken the shawl which had been given by his brother-in-law and I would bring another, next Monday. Next Sunday, I went to Madal Lal Jain and told him that the shawl given by him has been taken by some powerful man and told him to give me another shawl against payment. He gave me another shawl and I paid him the full amount of the shawl at the market price and on my return on Monday, I delivered the shawl to his brother-in-law. I never disclosed this incidence to any one even to Jain. I paid the price for my negligence.

I already had found respectable place in the Public as well as in the staff and had complete command over the working of my department. AN Grover was the Manager of the Mall Road branch and was known as notorious. Earlier he had been working as Manager at Jagadhri branch before his transfer to Patiala. At the instance of the District Manager, CL Luthra who was known as ‘Hindu Pathaan’  Grover used to degrade Verma, our Manager very often. I was told that Luthra used to take money from the managers but he was not paying him. (I don’t feel if he had any extra source even). Luthra had a very strong spying net work in the branches. He used to humiliate him whenever he could.

The inward bills received direct from the customers  (drawers) were very remunerative to the branch and most of these bills were drawn on Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) whose Head Office was at Mall Road Patiala and these  bills used to be of heavy amount. All the Post addressed to Punjab National Bank, Patiala was delivered to Gur Mandi branch as this was the oldest branch of the Bank. As such, most of these bills were received by this branch and were presented to PSEB. The PSEB used to take delivery these documents against the cheque issued in favour our bank drawn on their bankers, State Bank of Patiala and this practice was going on for the last many years, rather even after the opening of the Mall Road brabch.  Normally they used to come within banking hours to retire these documents and their cheques were added in the clearing to be presented to their banker on the coming day in the clearing. But, sometime when they had to come late, after banking hours, they were never refused and the cheques so received were sent to the Mall Road Office to be added in the clearing already sent and the Mall Road branch was accepting these cheques without any hitch. As the mall Road office member of the Clearing House, the cheques for clearing were presented through the Mall Office.

One day, the cheques issued by PSEB on their bankers, State Bank of Patiala as payment against realisation of the bills  were  sent for adding to clearing, these were returned by Grover. Verma was very much disturbed as we had already delivered the documents. Verma called me in his cabin and told me that Grover had returned the cheques of PSEB. I told him that he should request Grover and talk to him on phone and request him that the bank’s stake was involved and he should get these cheques added in our list of the cheques which were to be presented in the clearing on the next day. I found Verma was reluctant to talk to him and he told me that he was notorious man and would not agree. On my persistent request, he unwilling phoned Grover but he got blunt refusal. Rather, he misbehaved with him on the phone. I told him that we should send the cheques with a letter of request that these cheques be got included in the clearing as special case. Immediately. I took Cheques from him and wrote polite letter to the Mall Road branch that these cheques pertained to the bills we had already delivered to the party and the delay in presenting these cheques would be loss to the bank and requested him to get them cleared in the next day clearing. Before our letter could reach his office, he sent an other nasty letter telling that since Punjab Electricity office was close to his branch and all the bills relating to the PSEB be redirected to his office for collection. This was done to degrade him. We again replied that the bills were received by this office and were being presented to them for the last many years. Before this letter could reach him he wrote another very nasty letter that our branch was indulging into unfair practices. We replied that the redirecting would delay the presentation to them, as the PSEB was normally in need the material urgently and if, he was interested to get these bills routed through his branch he might approach the PSEB to tell their suppliers to sent the bills direct to his branch. But, it appeared; Grover wanted to harass and humiliate Verma. Till evening three four letters were exchanged but he still refused to take the cheques. This correspondence continued on the next day also. Grover was getting instant reply of his letter within half an hour. Our letters were written in such a way that he himself was trapped. However, we sent these cheques in the next day clearing.  After two days, he stopped writing letters and enquired through his spying agency: who was drafting these letters as he knew Verma was not proficient in writing such language. He came to know that I was the brain behind these drafting.

On coming Sunday, Grover reached my residence after getting my address through his source and advised me that I should keep apart in this tussle. I told him that I was not doing any favour to Verma as all the letters  were related to my department and it was my duty to reply them. Then he put a proposal to me and wanted a promise from me that  I would not say no to him and told me that he was getting me transferred to his office on phone by next day. He further told me that I would not have to do any other job except handling of the correspondence of his office. To win over, he told me that we both had come from Jagadhri and we should help each other and assured me that I would be comfortable in his office. I told him that I was interested to go back to Yamuna Nagar/Jagadhri and would like to remain in the branch till such time. He told me that he would get me transferred to Yamuna Nagar as D.M. was very close to him. I told him ‘Look! Grover Sahib if I pulled on well with you, you would not like to relieve me so long you were there and if I could not pull on well, you again would not like that I should go to place of my choice’. He had a cup of tea with me and left saying that I was a very shroud man but still he would like to get me in his office if I gave him my oral consent.

I feel Grover must have come to me after consulting Luthra otherwise he would not have come with such confidence to get me transferred without getting my written representation. Both Grover and Luthra were in hand glove with each other and were after Verma and wanted to humiliate him. Grover must have talked about the correspondence exchanged between the two branches over the PSEB bills and viz a viz my role in defending the branch. After a few days Niranjan Singh Loomba, Godown Inspector was sent to the branch on the pretax of checking the cash by D.M. Office. Incidently , I was on leave on that day. I  just casually went to the office to check up my personal post and was told by Verma that Loomba was telling him that Sethi was  mischievous and he was playing in his hands. When Verma told this I could not pocket his uncalled for remarks. I was told that Loomba was in the  strong room to check the cash. I immediately went to the strong room. Cash safe was opened and he was just to count the cash. A bundle of cash was in his hand when I reached there. I roared at him, ‘Sardar ji you are flowing the beard of Baba Nanak but your actions are of a devil and asked him how he dared to implicate my name in the controversy. On my roaring he became  so panicky that he threw the cash bundle in hush and left the branch. A stayed in the branch with the expectation that he would return but he never returned. Later I was expecting some reaction from D.M. office over the incidence, as Loomba must have reported to D.M. but there was neither any letter nor telephone from his office. I could not understand when he had come to check the cash why he left the branch without checking the cash and why he went away without rebutting me. (Loomba was wearing silver while beard just as like that of Baba Nanak).

I knew that Verma and the D.M. (District Manager) were not pulling on well. D.M. was  looking for some excuse to humiliate him and disturb him. His net working was very strong in our office also. One day, I happened to go to Chandigarh and went to D.M. office for some purpose. When I reached D.M. office, I was  immediately called  in his cabin when he came to know that I was in his office. He asked me what my manager was doing there. I told him that he was my manager and I feel he was doing well. He told me what I knew of him he was so low that he was taking out the un-stamped postal stamps from the Envelops. I told I was not aware of it as opening of Dak was not done in my presence. Then he allowed me to go by saying that I should be aware of the things which were happening in my office. In fact Luthra wanted me to speak something against Verma and wanted extract from me against him.

The structure of the House was almost complete and I was released the final installment of my housing loan. Now flooring and the wood work the main work which was time consuming and money consuming also. I had little funds in my provident account also. I raised loan against the P.F. so that the work could be completed. We purchased teak wood for our double doors and widows and Mehta Som Datt had arranged one proficient carpenter. The work was in progress. On Saturday when I came from Patiala my father told me that he had sent Rs.1000/- to Mathura without asking me as there was a need. I told, why he should ask me it was his money. By this time my salary had crossed one thousand and when I told my father, he was very happy to know that I have crossed 3 digits and told that now we should have a telephone connection. I said when I would come in the house I would get the telephone connection also. Besides salary of Rs.1000/- I was now getting over time and officiating allowance when ever any Accountant or Manager used go on leave. The amount from these two sources was enough to meet my house rent and milk bill. The number of my pents and shirts had increased from two to four. We had no furniture. Later when Bank introduced Consumer Loan scheme I purchased one folding Rexine Sofa Set, two side tables and one dinning table and chairs under the bank financing scheme from Army Furniture, Adalat Bazaar.

Manju, Titoo, Bitu (children of my sister Kamla) and Rakesh, Rama and Rajeev (children of Janak, Nirmal Sisters) came there in summer vacation and there was good gathering of the children including my own five and there used to be a great fun and noise at night on the roof of our house. Our neighbour to whom we were not introduced so far used to think that we had a large number of children. At the end of the summer vacation when all children had gone and when we were introduced to our neighbour  they disclosed these observations.  Once, Prof. GS Patial, his wife, Rani and Manu (his daughters) came there. Prof Patial was lecturer in English at Govt. College, Sri Ganga Nagar. We had association with him when he was  lecturer in English at Mukand Lal National College at Yamuna Nagar . He was very free with out family members. Mrs. Patial and his children  had come to our house for the first time and she was feeling at home and she herself used to take milk etc. from the kitchen and was not dependent on any one. Renu my daughter was very mischievous and when they were to go very early in the morning she set the alarm at the wrong timings in the alarm watch with result they had wait at the Railway Station for hours. Krishna (Gudo) d/o of my eldest Bhua Janki was living near Darshani Darwaja and we went to meet her in her in-laws two three times and requested her mother-in-law and Dev Raj, her husband to send her to our house or we would come to take her some day but their response was cold. Once we went to her house on Rakhi also but they never responded favorably and they did not visit us even once.

Wood work and flooring of  the court yard work was yet to be completed when  on Saturday I came Yamuna Nagar  my father told me that Vinod (my brother) had left   the house without telling any body. Naturally, we were very much disturbed on getting the news.  My father told me that he should go Mathura and would return after a few days. He was already away from Mathura for over two months.  I also thought it was proper for him to visit Mathura for some days. (Never knowing that he would never come to see his ‘Sapno ka Mehal’ which he had constructed with his own toil).  Moreover, there was no immediate construction work also. He went Mathura and could not come for one reason or the other for about one month.  One day, I received a letter from him at Patiala that my Chacha Suraj Parkash had misbehaved with him and had insulted him and further wrote that he did not want to keep any relation with him and he advised me also that I should not keep any relation with him. It was a great shock to me as my father was a perfect gentleman and caring for others. He never complained against any body though out his life. In those days I used to go Ghanour a village branch near Patiala as its Manager, Dalip Singh Bhatia had gone on leave. One day, when I returned from the village branch in the evening I received one letter in my office at Patiala from Inder, my brother that our father was very seriously ill and  but was alright now. I became very restless and I wanted to go Mathura immediately.   I immediately went to the Manager  and handed over the keys of the village branch and requested him to sent some one else at that branch from the next day as my father was sick. Promilla, Nirmal’s Sister was already at Patiala with the children. I along with my wife took train from Patiala in the forenoon and changed the train at Rajpura for going to Mathura. We reached Mathura   after 11 O’clock at night. Instead of going straight to our house I first went toward ours shop which was on the way. As it was very late and knowing very well that every body near the shop would be asleep but I wanted to know the position about my father  before I could reach our house as my heart was sinking. Incidentally, I found one man near our shop lying on the cot but was still awake.  I enquired from him if every thing was alright at the house of the owner of the shop. He abruptly said that the eldest Lala ji had expired in the evening. Before I could reach my house I was aware that my father was no more. It was 5th April, 1971.

When I reached house earthly body of my father was lying on the floor. This was the end of his long history of struggle. The man who  had never told his financial crises  after partition and never exposed his mental strains to any body and not even to his children and held his head up all the times even in the difficult times and now had left for heavenly aboard leaving many of his responsibilities unfinished. He would not be seen any more, my heart was throbbing.  A little later Vijay, my brother also reached from Kota as he received the telegram which were  sent to all the relatives including me. His going was untimely, he was hardly 64 and had many responsibilities yet to perform.  It was a great shock and loss to our family. He was giving cover to the whole family.  My two sisters Babli (Urmil), Bholi (Promilla) , three brothers Ashok, Vijay and Vinod were still to be married. The house he built at Yamuna Nagar was still waiting for him for its completion. He told me when he left me at Yamuna Nagar that he would come soon, never knowing that he would never come.   His cremation was performed on the Bank of Yamuna next morning. On 4th I took his ashes  to Haridwar. After immersing his remains in Ganga ji, I went Patiala for one day and came back Mathura. Rasam Pagri was performed on 13th day. Though I had left Yamuna Nagar and never met anybody in between many friends, like Dr. MC Ghambir, MLA, Krishan Lal Gadh brick kiln owner, Krishan Lal Kochar of Mishthan Bhandar, my friends Dr. Iswar Dayal Homeopath, Darshan Lal Mehta and Niranjan Das Gomber came from Yamuna Nagar to attend his Rasam Pagri. All the last rights were performed by my youngest brother Vinod who was beside him by the time.

I left Mathura after ‘Brahman’ on 17th day with heavy heart leaving my mother weeping in her helpless situation. I went to Phewa to perform his ‘Gatti’ rites along with Nirmal. After staying Patiala for about one week I came Yamuna Nagar to see what was left out in completion of the house. Wood work was complete and the carpenter was waiting for me for the payment. Rather he became impatient even after knowing the tragedy and used very harsh words when I met him. I told him that he would get his payment within two three days. The court yard was still not paved and the lining for waste water was the immediate need to rent out the house. I had no money to pay the carpenter and to get the minimum work done so that the house could be rented out. I did not want to borrow from my old colleagues at Yamuna Nagar. I thought of my friend, Dev Raj Latawa, Manager of Lakshmi Commercial Bank Ltd  (now Canara Bank) and told him that I needed Rs.3000/- to complete the house. He called me to his house on the coming  morning. When I  meet him he told me that he himself had no money but the money could be arranged on interest @3% p.m. It was very high rate of interest that means 36% p.a. I had to accept his condition, as no option was insight. I took Rs.3000/- from him and first thing I did was; I called the carpenter made his full and final payment (with the progress of work he was already taking money for the work he was doing) and I got the waste water lining constructed. When the lining was being laid the Carpenter had came to take his payment, when he saw the width of lining he said, “Babu Ji, you are son of a wise man but are you getting construction of ‘Nali’ or ‘Nala’?  In fact this was service lining from the kitchen and its width was made by the mason proportionally very wide. I could not do any thing now but had put my head down.

When I told one my confident friend that I had to borrow Rs.3000/- @ 3%, he told me that it was not a wise step to take money at such an exorbitant rate of interest. I explained him with my calculations; that house could be rented out for Rs.200/- per month to the Jagadhri Workshop Manager of our bank who was constantly asking for renting  of the house during the construction and whereas I was required to pay Rs.90/- as interest. Resultantly,  I would be getting  at least Rs.110/- p.m. after paying Rs.90/- as interest and if I left it uncompleted I would be loosing Rs.110/- also. He was silent after hearing my argument. However, after a few day my another old colleague Suresh Chand Mittal some how came to know that I had borrowed money on interest @ 3%. He was annoyed. He brought Rs.3000/- and told me to square of the loan amount. (However, I could return this Rs.3000/- after 18 years at the marriage of her daughter when I was Regional Manager at Ferozepur).

Our house was one of the best houses in Model Town in those days. I wanted a tenant who could vacate the house as and when I needed as I was still anxious to get my transfer back to Yamuna Nagar. I considered manager of my bank could be the best tenant as I would be able to get the house vacated at the time of need. Bansal was the Office In-charge of our Jagadhri Workshop branch and was interested to take my house on rent. His entitlement for the house rent was Rs.200/- p.m. only and I preferred him even though I could get a little better rent in the market. The house was constructed in such a way that the two families could live independently in the house. Both the portions had independent stores, kitchens, bathrooms and entrances. I gave front portion consisting of three rooms, store, and kitchen and bath room to Bansal with the condition that he would vacate the house at the time of need. When I had  given  my house to Bansal our District Manager’s sons sent my friend, Puran Chand Chawala, Municipal Commissioner that I should rent out this house to  Harish Luthra s/o CL Luthra (My DM)  who were living at Yamuna Nagar. (Earlier, also two persons had already approached me on his behalf but I tactfully refused them). I asked Chawla,  Was he not interested to get me transferred to Yamuna Nagar?  I told him if once I rented out my house to them they would never vacate my house as his sons were looking after their agricultural land and Luthra would never transfer me to Yamuna Nagar in the interest of his sons. He got my point and he tactfully withdrew from them. But Luthra was determined to take my house by all means.

Luthra  built up his pressure on Bansal through local Manager who advised him that he should vacate the house other wise Luthra would transfer him from Jagadhri workshop to some far of place. Further, D.M. office did not confirm the monthly rent of Rs.200/- for which he was entitled. Officially he was told that he should shift his residence to Jagadhri Workshop as he was not entitled to get the accommodation at Model Town.  Bansal wanted to remain in this house and in his present office as he was to marry his son and it was difficult to get such accommodation in a good locality at this rent. I also never wanted that Bansal should vacate the house otherwise Luthra would put a pressure on me to rent this house to his sons. So the thing lingered on.

 Suddenly, One day, I got a letter form the Bank offering me the officer grade as Sub- Accountant. The decision to be taken, was difficult as there was immediate financial lose. Immediately, I was to loose the officiating allowance besides over time which was part of my regular monthly budget and I could be transferred any where as per the discretion of the Bank. I analysed and found that most of the workman used to decline this offer because of these disadvantages  and because of un-foresightedness but I found later on, there used to be some frustration in them when they see that their juniors used to become senior some times in their own branch This rationale induced me to accept the officer grade. Considering all these aspects, I lost no time to accept the officer grade despite immediate loss and started waiting for the orders for my posting. One forenoon, my manager received a call from the D.M. office telling that D.M. wanted to speak to Sethi. Everybody in the office was astonished to know that the D.M. wanted to talk to very junior man direct. Instantly it struck my mind that my house was larking in his mind. I took the telephone from the manager who was holding it. On the other side it was Luthra himself and said ‘how are you, Sethi’. After acknowledging my regards   he said that he had been to Delhi on one marriage and Chawala (Puran Chand Chawla’s uncle) had told him  that Sethi was his man and he had asked me to transfer me to Yamuna Nagar’. He further said that he had told Chawala that if Sethi was his man than why he should not to be transferred  to his office. I could not say much as I knew that he was very vindictive man and my house was taking me to his office. I simply said ‘then as you please’. After a few days I got my transfer orders for District Manager office, Chandigarh.

CHANDIGARH D.M. OFFICE.

I joined the D.M. office at Sector-17 Chandigarh the very next day and reported for duties.  Luthra called me and OP Ummat who was in charge of staff, in his cabin and told him to hand over the charge of his seat to Sethi and guide me properly. He further told him that Sethi was his man and he should not have any problem. Ummat was very shrewd man and was under transfer to B.O. Sector 19 as Officer In charge. When Ummat left his cabin Luthra told me that I should see him before I leave the office that day. Ummat  who was waiting out side brought me his seat which was in the front row and told me that that was my seat and he came in front of me, leaving his chair for me.The first question he asked me, if I knew the working of the staff. I told him I was totally blank. He told me that he wondered how Luthra Sahib  had selected me for this important and technical seat. (I was unknown figure in the District). ‘There must be some reason behind this  to which I am not aware’, I quietly told him.

On the other staff seat behind me was Ram Nath Bajaj, a close relative of Dr. MC Gambhir, MLA and my friend. We exchanged greeting and I occupied my seat. I had psycho phobia that the District Manager people are very rude, especially those were sitting on the staff seat. Two times earlier, I visited the D.M. office and had not the pleasant experience when late OD Prem (father of my friend Vinod Prem) and IN Upweja were on the staff seats. I found my self like fish in the troubled water. I was neither intelligent nor clever and had no grip on English language even. Nature of  the job was quite different here. I was a social man and used to enjoy interaction with the public. I was like a square peg in the round hole.

Ummat did not tell me any thing special but in short he advised me to see the back pages in the file for reply of the letter. I felt, Ummat did not want that any body could be successful on the staff seat as he had made a monopoly for sufficient long period and  had the special qualities, ‘Jee, sir’, the King is dead, long live the king’. I also felt that he was jealous over my posting on the staff seat, knowing well that he had to go. I felt, handling the job was not so simple. Seeing that he would not show me the way and he was not showing any interest in guiding me, I told him ‘Ummat ji, ‘If I am to succeed I will succeed, the only thing one remembers is that who had guided the man to succeed’. Then he told me that whenever I felt that there was any confusion in giving the right decision always reply in negative instead of giving a wrong decision which might contravene the bank rules or the Awards or Law. The effected employee would himself write us back the rules under which he was entitled for the benefit. I had met the Ummat for the first time.

In the evening, all most all the staff had left, except beside me, two assistants of the staff  and two assistants of the loan  were waiting for the D.M. to leave. I was told that it was the routine and D.M. normally used to leave the office between 7 to 8 p.m. and some times after that also. It was around 7 at night when D.M. came out of his cabin and all stood up on their seats. While going towards the stairs he called me and took me to the corridor and said ‘Sehti how do you feel? I have given you very important seat and moreover at Chandigarh officers are getting rent allowance also’. I said, ‘it was your greatness, Sir’. He further said, ‘Sethi, you have a house at Yamuna Nagar.’ I quickly replied, ‘Sir that is rented out to Bansal, Manager Work Shop branch’. He again said ‘Bansal is vacating your house’. I replied that I was not aware of that. He emphasised and retold me that he was vacating my house and told me that I should rent out that house to him. ‘Whatever rent you are getting from him we wil pay,’ he told. I replied,’ how can I say no’ and after that he left. When I came, back all the waiting officers were eager to know what the DM had talked. I told the whole story and said that that was the back ground of my transfer to their office. We all left down to the road and I immediately rushed to Bus Stand to catch the Bus for Patiala to come again in the morning. On reaching Patiala I told my family what we were apprehending. I was daily passenger till  I got the house.

The staff, I remember when I joined were CL Luthra, the District Manager, ML Chabra, Manager, OP Ummat and RN Bajaj Staff Assistants, GL Mehra and RK Cyjala, assistant of Inspection and Audit, Duggal on statements, DD Sehgal and ML Mehra on Loans (HL Bansal joined when DD Sehgal retired), on GAD was MM Kalia. The stenos were RD Gandhi (staff-A) RK Handa (staff-B), JP Goel (Loans), Ravinder Aggarwal (Inspection & Audit), Clerk-cum-typists were YP Sikka, ML Gaubha, Vinod Kapur, AK Paliwal, Vinod Prem (joined a little later), YK Puri, Vinod Batta, Satish Harjai and among the Daftries were Tarlok Sharma, Mishra and Jasbir Singh (Bhagat ji). There were two Unions, Punjab Union (of Malhi & Seghal) with RD Gandhi as its President and Haryana Union (of Bhatia & Khosla) ML Gaubha as its President. Both had their affiliation with AIBEA. Their was no union rivalries.  The militancy in the unions was at the peak. When to do and what to do was at their fancy. Tarlok Sharma of the Haryana Union was the fieriest and most vocal. He had the license to humiliate and insult any officer in the hall in presence of the manager which was not uncommon and manager would never intervene. The visiting mangers from the field could not to go without meeting the leaders of the union and they were never treated respectfully. They used to dictate them if they wanted any thing to be got done at the branches. There was the Officer Association in the District with Dharm Vir Kwatra (President) and Jai Gopal Kapahi (General Secretary) with negligible say. Virtually the officers  were at the mercy of Employees Union especially Haryana Union (RK Khosla and Prem Rattan Bhatia). There were about 60 branches in the District. Entire Haryana, Chandigarh, part of Punjab- Patiala, Sangrur, Bhatinda, Ferozepur, Abohar, part of Rajasthan-Sriganga Nagar, Hanuman Garh, and part of Himachal Pardesh- Shimla, Solan etc were part of the District. (The other D.M. office Punjab was at Jallandhar covering part of  Punjab-Ludhiana, Jallandhar, Amritsar, Pathankot, part of H.P. Kangara, Mandi, Kulu etc., and J & K)

In the D.M. office in the morning the ‘Dairies’ were taken  from the Assistants by the Daftries and they would stag the files on the table the Assistants and would disappear with some workman staff to play cards behind the file racks in the hall till the ‘dak’ was sorted and given to the daftries to tag them in the respective files and stag them on the tables of the assistants again, in between they were not be available till much after lunch. OP Ummat, RN Bajaj, DD Sehgal, ML Mehra were the Accountants and the rest of the Assistants were sub-accountants. The stenos would take the dictation and type. They would not type any hand written letter/paper. When there was shortage of staff it was requisitioned from B.O.Sector- 17 which was on the ground floor. Employment of the temporary clerk was like taking out the labour from the labour chowk. For bank it was B.O. Sector-17. PS Bedi (AGM-Retd) was one amongest them.

I was on the main staff seats-A. Besides office establishment, I was required to deal with the staff matters of about 30 branches, including the post auditing of their salaries bills, supplementary salary bills and T.A. bills passed at these branches, besides passing of the T.A.Bills of the Managers of the branches and our own staff. Correspondence with the Head Office on the staff matters, maintaining and updating of seniority roaster of each category of the employees and their History Sheets. Sometimes there were technical problems, for which update knowledge of Banks’ instructions issued from time to time, Shop and Commercial Act, Industrial Dispute Act, the operative parts of the different bipartite settlements and awards was required. No dairies or registers were maintained in the office for this. The working assistants used to maintain their personal dairies which they used to take with them on their transfer and would never handover to his  successors. The working of the staff section was quite distinct from the other sections as they were required to have knowledge of the circulars issued by the H.O. also.

The appropriate command on the language was required so as the instructions conveyed were reached to the branches in unambiguous terms. The tone of the language had also changed. In the branches we used to request for getting some guidance or for permissions. Now, here the tone was quite opposite. Here we were to advise and instruct on certain matter and use to give certain instructions for compliance. Neither I had the command on the language used in the controlling office nor did I had the experience to give dictation to the steno. I was finding my self as square peg in the round hole. There was no support from any staff members, rather I was sensing that most the existing staff never wanted that I should have been in the DM office.

Bajaj was on the other staff seat. He knew that I was friend of Dr. Gambhir who was the first cousin of his wife. I thought he would be happy to find me in his office, especially on the staff seat and would help me to settle down in the office. Contrary to my expectations, he too did not show any warmth. Neither I was introduced to the staff of the office nor did I go to meet any of them. I started coming to the office. The attendance register was at my table and every one was supposed to mark his attendance at my table in the morning. I used to say ‘Namaste ji’ who so ever came without knowing his name and the seat on which he was working. ML Chhabra was the Manger of the D.M. office and his seat was just opposite to  me and  in front of the D.M.’s cabin facing the hall. The hall was divided into two wings facing the manager. In the right wing there were seats of two staff assistants, two of the Inspection, audit and statements including weeklies, all sitting in a row and on their left were the seats of their steno and of the clerk attached with the each assistant. Likewise in the left row there were two Loan assistants, with their stenos and clerical staff and horizontally the seat of GAD and dispatch. Here after leaving the passage there was wall made with file racks with back to the hall.This portion of the hall was used by the ‘Daftries’ with additional files racks as per requirement of the each section. This space was used as staff room and play room. What activities were going on in space was not visible in the hall.

Bajaj too was not extending his helping hand and rather he too was feeling jealous even though he was promoted as Officer In charge and was due for transfer. His Steno RK Handa was doing all his work even without dictation. The Steno attached with my section was RD Gandhi (President of the Punjab Union of AIBEA). Besides him there was one clerk, Yash Pal Sikka whose work was compilation of the statements and preparation of the Salary Bill of the District Manager office. and one Daftri, Tarlok Sharma  who was fiery trade union leader of Haryana Union of AIBEA. When I joined, I found no body was interested in me. In normal course when a new man joins the old colleagues generally assure their co-operation to the new comer. This spirit was conspicuously missing.

For my residenceI got three room set in Sector 18-A, near the Church facing main market till then I was a daily passenger from Patiala  We brought our house hold goods by truck. Trucks were not allowed in Chandigarh markets  and we never knew it. As we were unloading our luggage suddenly a Police Constable appeared and burst on the Truck Driver and told him that he should leave immediately other wise he would be challaned. The Driver and his cleaner became panicky and they immediately threw our luggage from the truck on the road in haste and in the process one of packs which contained our entire crockery was thrown on the road abruptly. Our entire crockery was broken into  pieces. There were over dozen of full plates, quarter plates, one Dinner Set,  two Tea sets with extra cups and lemon set with extra tumblers which I had collected gradually and many of items were of bone china. It was a great shock to us but we could do nothing.

My office was very close to our house and I used to come for lunch to my house.

sukhna-lake-

A picnic spot at Chandigarh -Sukhna lake.

One Sunday, after shifting, we went to see Sukhna Lake with my children. While walking on the road besides the lake we found Rajeev was missing. We searched the entire area but could not find him. When we lost hope of his being near the lake we returned home to take help from some one. We enquired from our land lord who was living on the first flour if they had seen our son. They told that one small boy did come in Auto Rickshaw and went back. I again went on cycle to Sukhna Lake which was almost deserted by now. I came back disappointed. When I reached home I found an auto Rickshaw was standing in front of our house. I went inside and found the Rickshaw Driver and Rajeev in the room. Rickshaw puller told us that they had twice came here and found our house locked and we again went to Sukhana Lake to find us and finally we had come again. In this way he the Rickshaw puller had three rounds from Sukhna Lake to our house. We thanked the gentleman who had taken three rounds with the little boy. We did not have the money to pay for these three rounds. I had only twenty rupees with me. I offered him eleven rupees as token of regard and told him that at present I did not have money to compensate his charges but would pay him a day after.  The Rickshaw puller was very nice and generous he refused to accept our rupees eleven even and said that he had not done that for the sake of money but he wanted to help the boy as he told me that we had come here only last week. Raju must be of about 8 years. We wondered: Could a Rickshaw Puller whose only source of income was plying of the Auto would  forgo even his actual fare? Could he not ask for some ‘Inam’ also? We did not know much about its sectors as we had come here hardly a week back and had not gone any where as I used to come late from the office. Sukhna Lake was the first place we visited.  We all wonder how Rajeev could remember the sector number and location of the house. He was intelligent but I could never expect that he was alert to that extend.  All the children got the admissions in the school including Ravi.

For me it was difficult to manage the seat. I had no support or guidance from any one. There was no friend, no well-wisher in the office who could give me the moral support even. I felt, the steno could help me to settle me down but my steno RD Gandhi was boss’s special man and for weeks he was not available to me though he always was on his duty. I never found him on the seat which was besides me. All the times, he was busy in the service of  Luthra . I wanted to request him to help me in handling the dak but he was not available. The files were piling up. Once or twice I talked to him to help me in clearing the dak but of no avail. All the time he gave me the lolypop and never turned to his seat. I don’t know whether it was under some plan not to get me settled down in the office.

In the morning, Tarlok Sharma, the Daftri used to come and would take diary from my seat and would bring the diarised files for the day. There used to be about 20 to 25 files daily. Some further actions were required to be taken if the replies were received and if replies were received,  follow up was required and after taking action these were still to be diarised for next date.  I had hardily gone through the files when number of new files with the letters received on date were on my table.

Now I feel my previous association with NOBW might be the cause, as other two unions working in the Bank were affiliated to AIBEA but I was working in D.M. office without any unionism in my mind even though I was member of the Officer Association. I wanted to work on the seat as was required.  Even the other Officers who had full grip on their working, were helpless creatures. The workman did not care for the officers and used to work under their own vim and management was keeping blind eyes over the situation. The workmen staff would come and marks their attendance and sit on their chairs for some time till the Daftri distributes the diarised files in their respective departments and would disappear behind the racks to play the cards. They would reappear in the Hall after that day Dak  had come and they would be on their seats till lunch.

Before joining Patiala, I had met RD Gandhi at his house with Raj Aggarwal from Ludhiana (younger brother of PL Aggarwal and friend of my brother-in-law Jagdish Uppal) in connection with my posting. It was not that he was totally unknown to me.  If he wanted, I would have been settle down with in a  short time as a steno had the complete knowledge of the seat and he knew  how to reply the letters after working as steno over a long time on the staff. But he too was avoiding me and for weeks he did not come to his seat to take dictation and used to tell me that he was busy with Luthra’s work and most of the time he was on ‘king’s duty. The files pilled up on my table and I was virtually lost in the heap of the files. I requested the Manager for the help but once or twice he sent one steno for a few hours, but he to refused to type my hand written drafting and told me that he would take dictation only and he would not type the hand written matters. But I was not proficient in   giving the dictations and the steno remained adamant. After many weeks when Gandhi came to his seat, he too refused to type the hand written replies. I never had the opportunity to give dictation as in the  branches we used to write letters with our own hands or maximum we used to give it to the typist for typing. If the stenos wanted to help me they could give reply of the majority of the letters but I felt that they did not want me that I should succeed. I was under constant strain how to manage under the new circumstances. I never wanted that I be thrown out of the office as a failure. There was one Satish Harjai typist in the office he was from Jagadhri and had some hold on the workman staff. One day I requested him to help me to clear the back log. He did once help me to clear the back log. He requested ML Gaubha, a steno and a leader also to help me but never saying  he too did not come to my rescue.

 Now it was the time for planning, how to pull on under the given situation and make my existence in the office respectable as I never wanted to be thrown out from the D.M. office as failure as told earlier. The files were piling up as I could not give dictation. I started coming early in the morning when there was on one in the office except the sweeper  and would write the replies of the letters on the flaps pinned on the letters in a very  diminutive  form so that it could not be visible to any one. This planning worked and during the day when steno used to come to me for dictation I took the help of these flaps while giving the diction. After giving the dictation I used to reverse the flaps so that no body could see the writing on the flaps. Gradually I acquired the art of giving dictation. Now there was problem of checking the Salary Bill received from the branches especially the Supplementary Salary Bills. I used to bring the salary bills to my residence and used to check their basis of payments and calculation work I used to get it checked from my children with the help of the calculator. Salary bills of all the branches were regularly checked except that of Sector-17 branch of Chandigarh.  Once or twice I tried to check them but these were so voluminous that these could never be touched during my stay in the D.M. Office and these remained unchecked. Now our office was known as Regional Office instead of District Manager Office and the D.M. (District Manager) was know as R.M. (Regional Manager).

As said earlier, due to shortage of the staff though we  used to requisition staff through our Sector 17 office but our requirement was restricted as we needed the specialised staff who could work in the administrative office. There was persistent shortage of staff  in our office. Vinod Kapai was a clerk working in branch Office sector-22, he was to be transferred as his brother Jai Gopal Kapai joined there as Assistant Manger and two blood relations could not work in the same branch.  Luthra called me in his cabin one evening and told me that since Jai Gopal Kapai had joined Sector-22 branch we  should transfer Vinod Kapai to our office and he gave these  instructions to be implemented on next morning of telephone.  Next day, he himself went on tour. Next morning I told ML Chhabra the Manager of our office what Luthra had told me last night. He told me to telephone the Branch Manager Sector-22 to relieve Vinod Kapai immediately. When I was to dial Branch manager, ML Gaubha, a steno of our office and Secretary of the Employ Union was sitting besides Chhabra. He enquired what for I was  dialing the branch-22 and I told him that Luthra had asked me  to get Vinod Kapai transferred to our office. He took the receiver from me and got me connected to the Branch Manager, BN Sharma. I told the branch manager that Luthra, the R.M had desired that Vinod Kapai be relieved immediately for our office. He assured that he would be relieved afternoon positively.

Next morning  Vinod Kapai joined and was allotted a seat. The other staff also went to their seats and suddenly began to shout ‘yeh panchhi kha se aa gia’ and then  all the workmen with their leaders came to my seat, while shouting they encircled me and asked me how I had transferred that man to this  office and told me that I would have to send him back just now and they would not allow him to work in this office.  I told them patiently that he had been transferred to this office at the instruction of the R.M.  When I gave this instruction to the Branch Manager your Gaubha was sitting with the manager and he could show his resentment there immediately.   ‘Now if you have to say any thing, you can talk to the Manager or to the Regional Manager when he comes’.  Who was I to transfer any one of my own accord. Despite my pacifying them they were determined to shout at me and time and again were telling that I should send him back immediately.  When I was being shouted at, the Manager was silent spectator sitting in the Hall and had no courage to tell them or call them to his seat or could come near the crowd. There were dozen of offices also sitting in the Hall. Ultimately when they were becoming more hostile and were not going to listen to any reasoning I had to tell them ‘who are you to dictate me’. Then they shouted at me ‘hum ne Ummat jese chhamcho ko nai chanlne dia ap kis bag ki muli hai, ham ap ko bhi nahai chalne de gai’. I shouted back, ‘Ummat chamcha ho ga, per mai chamcha nai hu. Umamat ka yha koi interest ho ga, mera nahi, meri transfer kal ka bajai aj kra do’. After that they melted down and returned to their seats. Even after a few days when the R.M. came he never talked to me and to the leaders of the union about their unbecoming behavior. Such was state of affairs in the controlling office. It was strange and astonishing also that none of officer  staff showed any sympathy or even talked about the issue. Even the Manager, ML Chhabra was indifferent to the incident.

The day after Kapai joined the office,  the entire workmen staff  started my social boycott. Every one used to come to my table and mark his attendance and went away without wishing me. Even my steno who was a special man of the R.M. was taking the dictation without talking to me and would type the dictation and used to send the files to me. I observed this change in the behavior of the workmen staff but on my part, who so ever used to come to my table to mark attendance I started wishing him by their names without getting any response. I continued this practice for about one fortnight then I also stopped wishing them . Over one month had passed,  one Sunday RN Aggarwal  steno in GAD came to my residence and talked to me and told that the workmen were annoyed over my remark ‘who are you’. So far none had dared to tell them like that.  He advised me that if I take my words back they were prepared to end my social boycott. I told him: they might not be used to such remarks but I too was not used to such unreasonable behavior. He took a cup of tea and went.

Gradually, the workman staff was melting down and thing were becoming normal and gradually they started wishing me also. After about two months my steno RD Gandhi who was the President of Workmen Union also, asked if I was annoyed with him. I told him why should I be annoyed with any body I was doing my duty and I had no personal interest or  ill will against any one.

We were receiving various reminders for not sending a particular Statement to the Head Office. I asked my clerk, Yash Pal Sikka: why this statement could not be sent despite many reminders from the H.O. He disclosed that he had talked the daftri Tarlonk Nath to get him the file but he was telling the file was not traceable. I told Sikka that the file might have been mixed with other files or had been done put in wrong drawer. I told him to help him if possible to locate the file. The following day he told me that Tarlok had told him that the file could be traced if Sethi Sahib give him some thing for ‘chai pani’.  I was astonished to hear this. I told Sikka that he could take tea with me any number of  times as a friend but I would not pay any thing for the job. Let the file remain untraced and if the statement was not sent maximum the authorities would considered me incapable and transfer me, for which I was prepared. Sikka might have conveyed Tarlok all this. The very next day Sikka got the file. I felt there must be some  practice of ‘chai pani’ at the time of Ummat.

After these two incidences, I never had any problem in the office and I was the most respected person in the office. Even when any member of staff had any problems or dispute, personal or official they used to seek my help and guidance. I felt the indifferent attitude of workmen staff might been because of  my past affiliation with NOBW and as all the workmen were member of AIBEA (Communist Controlled Union) but they neither opened their mind nor I could smell it. I came to know this strong feeling when RN Bajaj who was on the second seat of staff was transferred and in his place Ram Narain Gupta was brought from Karnal. Ram Narain could not pull on the staff seat and he became mentally upset within a couple of days after his joining on the staff seat. He surrendered before the Regional Manager and requested him to transfer him immediately in any branch otherwise he would go mad and he was found requesting every body to help him to get him out of Regional Office. I saw and heard Tarlok and his union members trying  their best to get Ram Narain settled on the staff seat and they were openly telling that Ram Narain that he was their old comrade and wanted him to be settled on the staff seat and  they told him also that they would give him maximum help and he should not loose his heart as they were on his back and advised him that he should not insist for his transfer (Actually they were helping him also). But Ram Narain got insomnia and became mentally sick and he proceeded on leave. Ultimately Bank had to transfer him in a branch and Girdhari Lal Mehra who was on audit was brought on the second seat of staff. Ram Narain incidence made me feel how workman staff was anxious to get him settled on the staff seat and on the contrary they tried their best to make me failure silently and persistently but they could not succeed.

Yash Pal Gupta was my friend and he was working as clerk with me at Patiala. He wanted his transfer to Ambala Cantt as his wife was a lecturer at Kurukhetra University. He was NOBW member. He had represented many a times but every time his request had been declined. There were some letters from NOBW also. The Ambala Cantt branch was the head office of the AIBEA and its General Secretary, PR Bhatia was working in that office. Neither Bhatia would allow nor the management would dare to transfer a NOBW member in his office and create  an avoidable Industrial unrest. Gupta asked me for his help. I knew this work was difficult. I told Gupta when he met that he would not peruse his union activities there and would not allow Bhatia to complain to our office about his transfer. He assured me that he would take care of all this as he knew its implications.

As a procedure every file should move with the noting of the assistant and the authorised person should pass the orders and his orders were to be conveyed to the branch. But in those days there was no noting system in this Region Office. When the Regional Manager was at the Head Quarter  he used to call the assistant (s) of one of the departments with all the files of Department in his cabin. As the Regional Manager used to call our department normally once or twice in a month there used to be more than 20 to 25 files of the each seat which were  required to be put up to him. The assistant would pick the files of his section one by one and would tell the contents of the letter and the Regional Manager used to pass oral orders on each file and dealt files was thrown on the floor to be collected afterward. The next day the Assistant would get the letter typed as per the orders of the Regional Manager and used to put rubber stamp on the office copy of the letter ‘By orders of the RM’ and sign under it. Then on the original letter  Manager would sign on behalf of the Regional Manager.

When Regional Manager was at H.Q. and we were called in his cabin with the files and RN Bajaj was the other assistant. I gave the file of Yash Pal Gupta to  Bajaj to be put up by him, as he was work in this department for a very long time. As usual all the file were thrown on the floor when orders were passed by the R.M. In the last Bajaj put the file Yash Pal Gupta telling that he wanted his transfer from Patiala Gur Mandi to Ambala Cantt. The RM said nothing doing. Instead of throwing the file on the floor Bajaj gave that file to me and Luthra immediately saw, sensed and said. ‘It appears Sethi is interested in this transfer’ and he then immediately said ‘Sethi de to tabe hah, transfer him’. Luthra, even did not ask about the back ground of  Gupta before agreeing for his transfer to Ambala Cantt. Normally, R.M.  either knew or used to check up which union the employees belonged. (The influencing factor in this unusual order was ‘my house’ at Yamuna Nagar which he wanted to take and this was the reason for which he transferred me on the staff seat in his office).

All the staff members used to give me full respect irrespective of their cadre. But one thing I could not streamline and that was post auditing or the salary bills. I couldn’t understand how my predecessors were managing this post auditing job which it self was almost whole day job.

The number of our well wishers increased who wanted to oblige us by staying overnight at ours and we used to welcome every one who so ever came to our house. There was Punjab University,  there was P.G.I, and there were two Civil Secretariats, two Education Boards and High Courts. We were tight and were facing very hardship. We could not do without Atta, Pulses and vegetable, tea and sugar.  We stopped purchasing milk on regular basis as and when it was necessary we used to purchase one bag of milk and had kept one small tin of dry milk. Whenever we were required to serve tea we used to use this tin milk. I used to get my salary by 25th of every month and by close of the month generally we do had no money.  Especially, whenever there was any unforeseen expenditure and  it used to become difficult to meet the school fee  of children , rent and other essential purchases.  We used to purchase household goods within the week after getting the salary. Once, I was to pay the school and I was in fix from where to borrow as only Rs.10/- was in my pocket. That night JC Dhir my friend from Yamuna Nagar came to our house just before we were to retire. After taking tea and before leaving our house he asked me if I could give him Rs.10/-. I gave that Rs.10/- which I had to Dhir with heavy heart. When  I went to see him off at the gate, he took out Rs.100/- note from his pocket and gave it to me, telling that he needed Rs.10/- only and balance he would collect later. I told him how did it matter,  it was just  Rs.10/- and told him that there was no sense in giving Rs.100/-  note but without listening, he  virtually threw the hundred note at me and hurried left, telling that he would collect the balance later. It is incredible but true.

Luthra, my Regional Manager could not forget the purpose for which he had brought me in his office. At least once in month he used to remind me whether I had asked Bansal, the Manager of Jagadhri Workshop to vacate the house. I used to tell that Bansal had told me that he was looking for an alternative accommodation and would vacate my house shortly. Marriage of Luthra was fixed with Chander Mohan s/o Dewan Brij Mohan, General Manager of Yamuna Syndicate of Yamuna Nagar. All the Managers were supposed to reach at the function and pay the ‘Shgagan’. (I used to call it tax as most of the Manager were not happy). They were also to be duty bond to be there. Luthra was keeping an eye on each of the visitor. When Bansal came there and he immediately called to tell that Bansal had come and I should talk to him forcefully for vacation of the house. I located Bansal and took him aside and told him that Luthra had asked me to talk to you for vacation of my house. He told me that he had not confirmed his action for paying of the rent even and had been putting pressure on him through Manager Yamuna Nagar Branch also and had threatened him to vacate the house otherwise he would transfer him. He told me that he had no option but vacate the house  but he wanted my help to delay the vacation of the house at least for two months as he wanted to celebrate the marriage of his son in the house and after the marriage he would vacate the house. I told him that I also did not want to give the house to Luthra but I could not escape as I have been brought by him to his office only with this intention. I advised him to write me a letter that you had taken a newly constructed house on rent at Jagadhri Workshop but it would take one or two months to complete it and immediately after its completion he would vacate the house.  In this way, I told him that he would be able to solemnise the marriage of his son at least. After meeting Bansal I told Luthra that Bansal had told him that he had got the house and would vacate the house within a month or so. He further told me to peruse it. Bansal sent me the letter accordingly and I showed it to him. He advised me again that I should pursue for early vacation of my house from Bansal and after seeing the letter he was satisfied.

Thank God, after a few days Luthra was transferred. How God was great! I was saved to rent out the house to Luthra and now again I got a hope that some day I might get a chance to get my self transferred to Yamuna Nagar as being in the administrative office and it would not be difficult to manage. In the meanwhile NN Verma was transferred from Dehranun Paltan Bazaar on promotion as Regional Manager, Chandigarh. He was very gentleman and not as  shrewd as Luthra was. He was new and needed assistance for his settlement at the new place. OP Ummat though he was Officer In- Charge at B.O. Sector 19, lost no opportunity to help him and to bring his luggage from Dehrdun and visit his house daily. For him ‘King is dead, Long Live the King’. Earlier he took the luggage of Luthra to his new place of posting.

A child of Bhushan Oberai’s (husband of Janak) sister had to be got admitted in PGI for some serious ailment. They came to our house first and we were supposed to send the meal of the family daily to PGI morning and evening and it was our duty also. The child remained in the hospital for long time. Raju my son naughty as he was once took 10 paisa coin in his mouth and it was blocked in his throat. We immediately took him in the PGI in the emergency. The PGI, after taking his X-Rays took out the coin with the instruments from the throat. Has that coin passed into the lower part it had to be taken out by operation?

The Head Office asked for the lists of the Sub-Accountant with the recommendations who were to be promoted to Accountant ‘D’ grade. The head office did not give the specific guide lines and it was left out at the discretion of the Regional Manager. This was not promotion; it was just a step to the next promotion. I discussed with the Regional Manager about the  basis on which  we should recommend to the Head office for placement of sub Account to Accountant Grade ‘D’. He advised me to recommend the persons who had put the maximum of years as Special Assistant. Accordingly I compiled the list as he desired but when I placed the list before him he asked where my name was. I told I was too junior to come under the criteria. Then he asked my qualifications and then he told me that all those who were B.A., C.II.B also be recommended. When I again placed the list, the name of Girdhari Lal Mehra who was the second Assistant on the staff  did not figure in this list. He told at least that officers who were on the staff should come in to the recommended list. I told Girdhari Lal Mehra is Matriculate but he was C.A.II.B. Then he told that all those who were C.A.II.B be included. I  told  him that then one officers our office again would be left out and I suggested that we should include the Post Graduates also so that MM Kalia an other Assistant of our office could also be included in the recommended list so that there should be no bickering in our office at least. He agreed and accordingly I got prepared the list where the discretion of the Regional Manager was to be put ‘Recommended’. Under his instructions I put ‘Recommended’ against the officers whom he wanted to be upgraded. With the result  my designation was upgraded by the Head Office as Accountant grade ‘D’. Had Luthra not brought me in his office my name could never find a place in this list and I would never had got the subsequent promotions so quickly. Luthra brought me to the Regional Office with malafide intention to grab my house but this proved  to be boon for me. It is rightly said ‘Saver’ is mightier than the ‘Destroyer’.

Subsequently, we received instructions from the H.O. that in ‘One Man Offices’ where Officer In-charges were working be replaced with the Sub-Accountants as incharges. Jagadhri Work Shop office was ‘One Man Office’ and Bansal was the officer in charge. The R.M. called the information about the ‘One Man Offices’ where Officer in charges were working.  While giving the list I requested him to post me at Jagadhri Workshop office in the vacancy to be caused at the transfer of Bansal. He listened me but did not assure me as normally suitable men for the staff seat were not available. My friend Jai Gopal Kapahai who was Assistant Manager at B.O.Sector-22 and was close to the R.M. both being from Amritsar also recommended for my posting at Jagadhri Workshop. He also told him that I was doing well here.

After a few months, I received call letter form the H.O.  to appear for an interview of Accountants grade ‘C’ which would be held in our office. On due date OP Gupta, Staff Controller, came from H.O. to take interviews of candidates of our Region. Though I was one of the candidates, but it was my duty to provide the personal files and any other information required by the Staff Controller about the candidates and I was frequently called by him in the interview process. But I became interview conscious when the process of interview was in progress. The questions put in the interview were normally connected with the duties performed by the candidates in the branches. I started reviewing my knowledge about the ‘awards’ ‘settlements’ ‘scales’ etc. I found my self very much confused and was unable to recall the details. I was not only feeling confused but feeling self ashamed as I would not be able to reply the questions  and what The Staff Controller would  think that the Regional Manager had put such an incompetent man on the seat who had no knowledge of this delicate seat. As I was assisting in the process of interview I was called for interview in the last.  When I appeared for the interview Gupta asked, ‘Mr. Sethi what question I can ask you? You are already in my working. I wish you best of luck’. This was  all my interview. Subsequently he said that my R.M. had told him that I was interested to go Jagadhri Workshop and said how it was that people wanted to come to the Administrative Office, especially on the staff seat and I wanted to go from here. I told him that I could do better in the field.  Then he said O.K., best of Luck.

My sister, Babli’s marriage was fixed with Onkar Nath Bhasin s/o Ram Nath Bhasin of Gwalior at Mathura. My sister Nirmal who was at Gwalior and she had proposed this alliance when my father was alive and I and Nirmal were asked to go to Gwalior to see the boy. I and Nirmal went Gwalior and the alliance was finalised. This was the first marriage in our family after death of my father. When the date was finalised I had applied for Provident Fund Loan and was looking for other borrowing resources and in the meanwhile, my Regional Manager called me and told me that as per my desire he was transferring me to Jagadhri Worshop as sub-accountant- incharge but I would be relieved after my substitute was finalised. Ultimately it was decided that Girdhari Lal who was on the second staff seat would take over charge of my seat and Mahohar Lal Mehra , Loans Assistant would replace Girdhari Lal. But before I was to be relieved I received letter from  my brother Inder from Mathura that I should send him Rs.500/- so that he could start making arrangements for the marriage. So far I was unable to make any arrangements for the money though I already had applied Loan against P.F. but that was still awaited and salary was to be paid after ten, fifteen days. I did not have any money which I could send and moreover I was under transfer orders. Nirmal was away to Yamuna Nagar for some work. She returned from Yamuna Nagar late at night. When she came I told her that Inder had asked for Rs.500/- but I did not had the money. She immediately told me that JC Dhir had given her Rs.500/- and he told her to handover the money to me. She  told me that she was not taking the money but Dhir forcefully gave me the money, telling that he may need it on his transfer. Was this a coincidence or some super natural power working behind it. This was not the first time when Dhir gave money? This was the third occasion when we were badly in need money and he came to our rescue without our asking. (Now when I tell Dhir of these instances he tells that he is not aware of them).

JAGADHRI WORKSHOP

Ultimately, I was relived from Regional Office and joined as Sub-Accountant in charge at Jagadhri Workshop office. (though I was Accountant ‘D’ grade and there was not much difference between sub-accountant and ‘D’ grade accountant). Not only had I become in -charge of the office I got the opportunity to live in my own house which I had already leased out to manager Work Shop office. I was the land lord of the house as well as tenant as I was entitled to free accommodation from the bank being the in-charge of the office. As Land Lord I was getting Rs.200/- as monthly rent from the Bank. After the transfer of  Luthra rent of Rs.200/- p.m. was confirmed to the Manager for this house.

The office was on the main road which had one big room with one store, kitchen and open court yard and a Verandah. The Room was used for banking purposes and the store was used for putting the Cash Safe and kitchen was used for keeping the stationery. There was only one peon, Om Parkash peon-cum-guard besides me. There was not much of the work in the office when I joined. I started contacting the people in the area. Next to Bank building was Gaubha’s Godown for the scrap. I went to Gaubha for opening the accounts with our bank. He did not promise to open the account with our bank but told me that I could come and sit there as my predecessor Bansal used to come there and sit there as was not much work in the bank. I was amused to his offer as I had gone to him for the bank business. Later with the help of JC Dhir who was Inspector at Railway Workshop,  I met the A.W.M. (Assistant Works Manager), all the Charge men, Foremen of all the shops. I also met the APO (Assistant Personal Officer), a Bengali gentleman Mr. Chakraborti, AAO (Assistant Account Officer) PP Khanna. Khanna told me that he had neither money nor any Bank Account. I told him that we need his symbolic account as this would enhance our image. I filled his account opening form and got his signature but he had not Rs.50/- to pay the initial deposit. Dhir told him that he would take the money later and Dhir gave me the initial deposit money.  We met the staff of the Account Office also as they could be helpful to us in getting the Cheques of the retiring staff when they get their retirement dues. My friend MC Ghambir, M.L.A. came to know that I had joined the Jagadhri Work Shop branch.  The day after my joining he brought one agriculturist, on his Motor Cycle, who had sold his land with deposit of more than Rs.1 lac. My friend, PC Chawla, Municipal Commissioner and was a big land lord. I secured his and his mother deposits which were in lacs. The deposit swelled three times within week. The Regional Office was happy over the progress as earlier there was a snailing  progress and more so they were thinking of the branch to close and sought recommendations of the Branch Managers of Yamuna Nagar and Jagadhri and who had submitted in their survey reports that there was no scope for the branch here.

As the marriage of my sister Babli was very close. I had already received the payment of my P.F. Loan and in addition I borrowed some money from my friend JC Dhir and Shambhu Nath Chawla.  I considered the amount I was carrying should have been sufficient to meet the marriage expenses, the articles to be given as Daj’ (dowry) were already purchased. Whether Vijay or Vinod, my brothers gave me any money I cannot recall. I feel they might have given to the mother as Vijay had been sending some money to mother after the death of our father. Vinod was still not settled. Inder had already made preliminary arrangements and paid the advances where ever it was required. (Advance for the booking I had already send the amount). We were to receive the baraat in the evening and we were to give them evening tea and Dinner as night and next morning breakfast. Just on the day the baraat was to come we received the message from Babli’s in-laws that they would be reaching in the morning instead of evening. All the arrangements were upset and we were not prepared for the additional Break Fast and Lunch. Even the infrastructure and cooks had to arrange  as the  changed Programme. I was immature and  last my balance which I should not have. Perhaps, because it was the first function I had to arrange after the death of my father and there was fear of unbalancing of my financial arrangements. It was summer there was a lot of wastage especially of milk products. In hurry we forgot to arrange for the sweet dish for the advanced lunch.  Eventually the melon in syrup was served as sweet dish. However it ended smoothly.

All most all the bills were paid except that of the milk and there could be one more item for which the payment could not be made. I thought of remitting the money of these bills on reaching Yamuna Nagar but Inder insisted that I should clear all the bills before leaving. Some the unused items could be returned but it was thought that those could be used in the house. I immediately sent telegram to JC Dhir at Yamuna Nagar requesting him to remit Rs.2000/- telegraphically and received the money telegraphically and cleared all the bills to the satisfaction of Inder and paid some money for the anticipated expenditures also.

At the branch I attracted large number of customers gradually. There used to be a great rush during the recess time of the Railway Work Shop as this was the only time when the employees could deal with the bank either for payments or for deposit their money. For a single person it was impossible to clear all the customers within a short stipulated time. Our customers after giving or taking the money had to reach the duty in time after taking their meals as there was card punching system at the Gate of Railway Workshop and they could not afford much time. To meet with in the time, I planned the system to dispose off the customer immediately.  Instead on adopting the regular bank procedure, I adopted my own system. I started making the payment to the customers after verifying their signatures and posting them in the ledger and used to make the entries in their Pass Books and used to keep the Cheques in the ledger in their respective accounts. Likewise after receiving the money I used to post the voucher in their accounts in the ledger and simultaneously complete their Pass Books as the customers wanted the Pass Book immediately. After their recess was over. I used to write the Cash Book after taking each voucher from the ledger and then used to tally my cash .  This customer service helped me to multiply the branch deposit to many fold.

Once  KC Mehra, the then Regional Manager came to my branch in such a peak hours and I was surrounded by the customers and he had to stand there for about half an hour  watching and I could not notice his presence in the branch. When the customers had gone, I found the Regional Manager was standing in the corner of the branch. I stood up and greeted him. He was very pleased to see the rush in the branch and how I was disposing them quickly. He inspected my books and I explained him how I was managing the rush within the  stipulated time. I urged upon him the necessity of providing the staff. He assured me and advised me that I should submit the staff strength proposal to his office. Accordingly I submitted the staff strength proposal requesting for two clerks. Further I requested for the sanction of one type writer and a water cooler. After a few days I received the sanction of the type writer and the water cooler. But about the increase in the staff strength I received a reply after a month or so telling that since my office was one man office, more staff cannot be sanctioned. I wrote back requesting them that I be sanctioned the staff on basis of my working and not on the basis of the status of the branch. I told  them that if  my working did not warrant they may not sanction the staff and told them that their plea for rejecting the staff did not stand on any logical premises and there was no response.  As a matter of fact the sanctioning of staff lied with the Staff Department at H.O.  and they had set the criteria for staff and its working figures for the One-man-office . Though I had crossed the expected level of the working of one-man-office within six months. To give me more staff, either policy had to be changed or the status of the branch was to be changed.

After some times the area manager, BN Gupta came and saw my working and he too advised me that I should send the staff strength proposal and he would see the staff was sanctioned. I told him that I had come from the staff seat and know the working of the Regional office and could not hold my self in saying  ‘PNB officers are the poor creature either they are helpless or they don’t want to help’. My words were very harsh to such a senior officer which a junior man should not have uttered. Had there been tough officer he would have initiated disciplinary action against me but Gupta was gentleman and had also seen the uncontrollable rush at my branch. For face saving he told me that he would try his best. But I did not want to apply  break to trend which I had set and some how I continued.

I feel the Regional Office must have recommended for the sanction of the staff but staff department at the H.O. might have declined as per the parameters set for one man office. However, some how the Regional Office got me sanctioned one clerk-cum-cashier some how Tilak Raj Verma  in the branch. But  style of my working and handling of the customers and my zeal to increase the Bank Business, put me under heavy strains. The business was increasing in geometrical progression and practically one clerk-cum-cashier  was not capable to cope with the increase work load. We could hardly finish the customer routine up to 5 O’clock. Day Book and other miscellaneous work were left out at the end of the day. For a few days I used to detain Verma to finish the work but I had fear that he may not say abruptly that he could not sit late daily. To avert such situation, we used to leave the office around 5 O’clock and after reaching near the druma wala chowk I used to tell Verma to go and I had some work here. After he used to leave, I would again go back to the office and used to finish the pending work including writing of the Day Book. But I stopped sending all the statements and including the Weekly Statement of affairs  to the Regional office despite the various reminders from them. On my part I used to keep the weekly ready but did not send to the same to R.M. office to put a pressure. The R.M. office was disturbed, they knew I need the staff urgently but the H.O. might not giving them.

Subsequently, there was half-yearly closing and in routine all the branches used to receive the Circular from Central Office for preparing of the half-yearly statements. On receipt of the circular I sent telegram to the Central Office that the closing of the branch would not be possible in view of short staff and apprised them the detailed working of my office in the letter. Immediately there was strong letter from the Central Office to the Regional Office to provide me adequate staff so that closing work be finished within stipulated time. The Regional office sent one typist Satish Harjai to my office knowing very well that Harjai was typist and he did not know the clerical work. But Satish Harjai belonged to Jagadhri and was my friend he told me that I should tell him the work and how it was to be done. I gave him the tips and he was very quick to pick up the clerical work and he was so hard working that he did two men job. On the other hand I had good number of clerical friends at Yamuna Nagar and Jagadhri branches. When they came to know that there had lot of work pending especially tallying of the monthly balances though I have jotted down the balance in the balance books. There were fourteen clerks who used to come to my office after their office hours or on Sundays and Holidays and took up the pending work to clear them. Some of them even took leave from their offices to help me to finish the work.  It was unique fellow ship and every one who came there was enjoying while working here as if they had come on a picnic trip. Before the stipulated time we had completed the closing work and sent all the statements in time.

The Overtime for the closing work was sanctioned for two hours for the workman of my office (which were three in number) as it was one man office whereas it was sanctioned for eight hours for the B.O. Yamuna Nagar. I felt it was discrimination.  I paid eight hours to my work staff also, namely Om Parkash, Tilak Raj Verma and Satish Harjai who was deputed from RM office. PL Tandon was our Chairman who had come from State Trading Corporation. He was against the payment of overtime to the staff. It was his instructions to curb the overtime. I was charge sheet-ed on account of transgressing the over time limit fixed for my office. My reply to the charge sheet was: ‘The charges framed against me are really correct. If payment of overtime has any relation to the actual late sitting or to the volume of work involved the over time of eight hours was even less. Had fourteen colleagues from the different branches not helped me by coming to my office after their office hours and taking the leave from their branches, the closing of the half yearly would not have been possible. The allocation of the overtime on the bases of the status of the office is not rational.’ The Regional Office knew the position but they had to follow H.O. instructions meticulously and they did not have the power to transgress it. Ultimately  I was told, ‘We do not appreciate your action and you are advised to be careful in future.’ This was what maximum, they could do as they could not rebut my logic.

Once, I wrote letter to PL Tandon, the Chairman direct on the issue of providing adequate staff as per the working of the branch. I wrote, ‘I do agree that the over staffing at certain branches was injurious to the efficiency but under staffing would also strangulate the working the under staff branches and suggested him to depute the high power team to the branches to asses the adequacy of the staff with a power to withdraw or sanction after taking all aspect at the branch. His view that the PNB was over staffed could be correct also but this anomalous average rating that the bank is over staffed would badly effect the under staff branches. I was sub Accountant and too junior to write such letter to the Chairman, the highiest authority in the bank. I received an endorsement of the letter written to SK Mukherji, Chief Personal telling him that I had raised an interesting point and advised him to discuss this issue with him. Subsequently I received certain quarries Mukherhi which I replied. In the process, I got  ML Goel as special Assistant and SP Bali a clerk in addition of the TR Verma. Perhaps it was the solitary case in PNB where the one man office got Special Assistant, Two clerk, Telephone connection, Type writer and a Water cooler.

I planned and worked not only for securing the deposits but I was zealot to finance under all the schemes of the bank with ambitions to serve the people. From the Priority sector advances Manuel  I made a short note about each scheme.  Criteria of eligibility of the person under the scheme and the formalities required to be completed and I pinned all the documents required to be taken under each scheme, so that I could finance the person immediately, if he was eligible.  When ever any customer used to come to me for the loan under any scheme he had not to wait. The front notes with pinned documents helped me to dispose him off the customer immediately.  Once my Area Manager, BN Gupta when he was on visit to my office, saw this system, he asked me to get him with one set of the each scheme with the documents which I readily provided. I financed under Agriculture lending for a Tube well at village Chandpur to a Mohammedan  agriculturist and Tractors to Naya Gaon and Sasoli villages, Under self employed finance,  I financed to a turner (for lathe) to cobbler, Carpenter, Barber, Doctor and to many Rickshaw Pullers.  My maximum number of  financing was to Rickshaw Puller under D.R.I scheme under priority sector. My financing to the Rickshaw Pullers was more than the combined finances of all the banks of Yamuna Nagar and Jagadhri. More that seventy Rickshaws were financed. Roshan Lal Gupta who was publishing one monthly Urdu paper was the President of the Rickshaw Pullers Union and Janak Raj a Rickshaw puller was the Secretary of the Union. When they first approach me for financing of the Rickshaw, I asked what commission they were charging from the members for getting them financed from the Bank. They made me feel that they were not taking any money from any rickshaw puller for getting them financed. I told them that I would finance all the genuine cases which they would bring to me but recovery of the installments would be their responsibility. The union people used to come every month and used to take the list of the defaulters and they were very hard to  the defaulters and  some times behaved like police constables. Some genuine cases came to my notice where the defaulter was not willful defaulter but was  helpless due to his own illness or due to illness in his family. I used to tell the Union leaders that they should bring such persons to me. I used to listen to their genuine problems. When convinced that they cannot pay the installment, I used to tell them don’t pay till his conditions had improved but he should deposit some minimum amount every month so that he should not loose the habit of paying the installment. The minimum amount was decided mutually so that he could pay at least that amount easily. MS Gupta was the Development officer and he also used to visit the office but development was my own subject.

Dr. MC Ghambir M.L.A.  introduced to me BR Kamal who had set up an industry for manufacturing of Sugar machinery and its parts under the name of Kamal Engineering Corporation. Fresh financing was restricted by the Reserve Bank of India in all the banks. I assured them to finance them and I personally went to the Regional Manager at Chandigarh. Initially, The Regional Manager was reluctant in view of the Head Office restrictions but on my insistence and in view of the fast development of my office he agreed to consider the proposal as a special case. I prepared the proposal and personally took it to GD Naagar who was the S.S.I. officer for preparing it financial and economic viability and then discussed the proposal with the Loan Accountants so that the proposal was through without any delay in correspondence. Kamal was insisting that to hire taxi for taking me to Chandigarh but I told him why to incur avoidable expenditure. It was normal tendency for the Managers to ask for the conveyance but I was working with some zeal to help others and did not want to burden the borrower. Whenever I had to go Chandigarh with Kamal I used to go on his Motor bike.  I was respected by every one in the Regional Office and the proposal was through in a record time especially even though there was a credit squeeze. This was my first financing under S.S.I.  Subsequently I got sanctioned one ‘Lifttwell’ industry. Not only I financed the people but I also ensured that they should get the work also, so that bank installments were secured. Once I finance a lathe to a gentleman (turner) but he was not getting enough work, as Jagadhri Work Shop was far away from Yamuna Nagar Industrial Area. I asked Kamal Engineering to give work to him  if they were getting job work from outside and if they were satisfied with his workmanship and as per rates they were giving for such job works.

Once, meeting of the Managers was called at Chandigarh at Staff Training Center at Sector-18 and NN Vohra, the General Manager came to address. KC Mehra was the Regional Manager. At the end of the meeting, the Managers were asked to get clarifications on any issue. I raised the issue that the basis on which the staff strength was assessed and  sanctioned. I told them that it was an old aged procedure and was faulty and some scientific method be adopted to assess the actual requirement of the branch. Some of the branches were over staffed and some were starving and gave many arguments and rationales in support of my view point. My Regional Manager took exception to this point and took it was an attack against the Regional Office’s working and he couldn’t refrained me from pointing out this issue but got annoyed and pointed out to me saying that: than what I had been doing when I was in the  Regional office on the staff seat. Despite my clarifying that I was not the questioning the Regional Office but to the basis/system laid down by the Head Office. But he was not prepared to take my point view. Taking that the Regional Manager had taken my arguments as against his office I withdrew from the discussion and sat down.  When I took my seat, one of the Senior Managers, raised the pointing to me,  whether I was convinced on the point. I again stood up to reply to the Manager point and said, ‘Sir, I am convinced that I cannot convince the authorities’ and sat down. When the meeting was over one long slim middle aged officer was standing in the Verandah, on seeing me, he extended his hand toward me and said, “I am VP Amar, A.R.M. (Assistant Regional Manager)” and told me, “ Most vocal,  and logical too”. I said thank you and I left for the Bus stand to come back to my station.

As the branch work was expending geometrical progression, the Head had to give me two clerks and One Special Assistant to keep the pace of the growth . The Special Assistant was ML Goel who was far senior to me as clerk at branch office Yamuna Nagar or I can say I was far junior to him in the branch. Because of my improving my qualification I got promotion much earlier and now was heading the small office where as he was  now promoted Special Assistant and posted as a second man in my office. He could not digest that his junior man be the Manager of his office. He could not contain his feeling which were natural otherwise also and who so ever used to come in the office, he used to tell, My Manager Sahib was working under me at Yamuna Nagar’ It was fact also and I used to confirm his saying. But telling all the time to every body was not in good taste as he wanted to show his superiority. On these lines, one day I started telling the customers before he could say, ‘My Accountant Sahib was senior to me and I was working under him when we were at Yamuna Nagar’. He saw through my words,  though the words were the same as he used to tell but when I was telling it was conveying the different message and than he stopped saying this in future.

I used to go to my office by cycle but in autumn it was very difficult to cycle while coming back from the office as normally there used to strong wind with durst or storm blowing from the opposite side and it used to take almost double the time while returning. Loan for purchase of a motor bike was sanctioned to me by the Regional Manager office but I was required to put margin money besides money for the Road Tax and Insurance. The sanction was going to be lapsed as I could not purchase the Motor Bike for want of balance money which I was not able to arrange. One day. I was sitting with my friend, Jain Bahadur Jain, at his Jain Cloth House and he abruptly he asked me why don’t  I buy motor bike. I told him that I had been a sanctioned Bank loan for Rs.2500/- and was short of Rs.700/-. After hearing me he took no time in giving me Rs.700/- and told me that next day I must have the motor bike. Yamuna Syndicate  Ltd had the Agency of ‘Rajdoot’ Motor cycle and its cost at that time was about Rs.3000/-. One Om Parkash Gulati who was Agent at Oriental Insurance Co and used to visit my office for insurance work  occasionally,  he took me to Yamuna Syndicate and got me the ‘Rajdoot’ Motor Cycle immediately. PP Gulati, his father was working there as Manager. I paid Rs.3200/- in all to Om Parkash Gulati and he got me the insurance and paid road tax and cost of the motor cycle and told me that it was sufficient money to meet all the expenses. He might have got some concession from the Yamuna Syndicate also. Some of my friends told that ‘Rajdoot’ had no resale value. ‘Vespa’ was the best Scooter at that time which neither I could afford to purchase nor it was available in the open Market. From the very next day my friend, Maharaj Krishan Puri, who once was an employee of Yamuna Syndicate and now had started his own business gave me the training of driving at ‘Johota Road, Jagadhri’ daily, early in the morning and I was on the saddle after a fortnight but could not forget to give repeated horns even when I used to see a man on the road and he was over 200 yards away from me.

Some interviews were held at the Regional Office for the post of Assistant Manager/Officer In charges but I was not called. I sent my representation to the Regional Manager that I have been ignored while some juniors to me had been promoted. The Regional Offices did not respond. I along with the representatives of the Officer’s Union met the Regional manager, AN Mukharjee and he assured me that my name would be considered before the release of the promotion list. When I met the Staff Assistant Girdhari Lal Mehra, the staff assistant and Inder Nath Upweja, the manager in the Regional Office, they told me that the junior persons would not be given posting till my case would be decided in the next selection. I wrote very strong D.O. letter to AN Mukerjee,  The R.M., alleging that his staff department was manipulating the things in their own way for the reasons best known to them and gave the list of the persons junior to me in Regional Office who  had been approved. Immediately after receiving my letter he inquired from the staff section about me and questioned how dare I could write such letter to the Regional Manager. When he was told that I was working in the Regional Office on the Staff seat, he melted down and  replied to me in a very counseling and conciliatory  way that even before receiving my representation he had referred the matter to Head Office for appropriate action. However he advised me that making such remarks hurts the feelings of their colleagues and can led to hardening their attitudes, which was neither good for the institution nor for individuals and further advised me if I wished to be heard I should feel free to give cogent arguments in favour of my points of view and he would certainly look to it on merits. Mukerjee was earlier Chief of Staff Department. After a few days I was called for interview and I was the only candidate for the interview but the result and posting took more than four months.

SIWAN

Ultimately, I had completed three years in the branch office Jagadhri Workshop and the branch was upgraded to Pay Office but the result of my interview was not declared and as such I was posted to B.O. Jagadhri as an Accountant. I gave my joining report to the Manager B.O. Jagadhri on first January 1974 and I wanted to proceed on leave immediately but in the meanwhile the same day the Branch Manager received instructions on telephone to send me to pay office Siwan to relieve LR Malhotra for further posting. Instead of proceeding on leave I proceeded to Siwan next morning and relieved Malhotra. There was one Special Assistant, one clerk-cum-cashier, One Agricultural Officer, One peon and one Guard. There was not much work at the branch though there was only our bank. It was a small village on Kaithal-Patiala Road. From Yamuna Nagar I had to take bus for Kaithal and from Kaithal I had to take another  Bus which used to go up to Gula-Cheeka. Though Siwan was on Kaithal Patiala Road but the bus bounded for Patiala did not take passengers for Siwan. I took one room in the village and the peon of the office Krishan lal offered to help me in domestic work.  There was no water supply except the hand pumps. He used to bring water for me and used to cook  food for me for both the times and I used to pay him for these services. In the evening I used to visit the customers and give them my introduction. One of the shop keepers told me that HC Aggarwal (predecessor of Malhotra) had made good money from here during his tenure but Malhotra had made more money in a short period. I told him that I too had come to earn but  not the money. I had come to earn good will. The shop keeper laughed at me.

It was an Pre-Emergency period and Bansi Lal was the Chief Minister. Genuine or no genuine case all the loans had be given at the instance of the local administration and persons belonging to Congress party (Ruling Party). The reluctant was put behind the bar on flimsy grounds. One of our managers, DV Arora (the name of branch I am unable to recall) of that area was put behind the bar for not cooperating with the administration. Only three days after my joining a Government official came to my office and told  me that I was required by D.D.A (Deputy Director Agriculture) at Panchayat  Ghar. When I was to leave for the Panchyat Ghar, Dhingra, Agricultural Officer told me that one case of Gober Gas of Rajinder Singh of  village Badimajra  had  been rejected by Malhotra and he had threaten Malhotra that how dare he could reject his loan. Rajinder Singh was a Congress leader of the area. Dhingra cautioned me that The D.D.A. might call my explanation for not sanctioning of his loan and would force me to sanction his loan. When I reached Panchayat Ghar some officials were waiting for the D.D.A. and Deputy Commissioner. At that time Siwan was under Kaithal Tehsil and Kurukhetra District. A caravan of three cars abruptly stopped at in front of Panchayat Ghar. A few of the official rushed toward the cars while I stood waiting at the Gate. When the procession of the officials came near the Gate, one of the officials pointed toward me saying, ‘He is the Manager, Punjab National Bank’. His language and pointing actions toward me were as if I was a culprit. I was new to the place and environment I got little puzzled over his behavior and the situation prevailing  there. Incidentally it struck me that BR Anand was the S.D.M. of Kaithal who was earlier S.D.M. at Jagadhri and this was told by my elderly friend Makhan Lal Anand, an advocate at Yamuna Nagar. I enquired from a man standing there who was BR Anand. The man pointed out  toward one the  officials. I immediately went to him and wished him and I introduced him and told him that I had recently come here from Yamuna Nagar and ML Anand, Advocate  had told me to meet you but I could not come to you immediately. In the meanwhile all the  members of the caravan along with some local dignitary of the town  had already entered in the small hall of the Panchayat Ghar and I was the last to enter in the hall and sat next to the S.D.M. where the seat was vacant.

The very first agenda and target was I. The B.D.O. who was a Jaat and he asked me in a hostile tone why I was not sanctioning the loan of Rajinder Singh. I told him that I had recently joined the branch and was not aware of it and I would look into the case and if the case was genuine, I would sanction it. On this he immediately burst at me. ‘Ham ne koi theka lay rakha hai, roz ap ka manager badalta rahai aur ham un ko kaite rahai’. Without full stop he went on asking me what had been our managers at Balu and…… Ballu ( AL Katyal and  US Gauri were the officer in-charges there) had been doing. I told I was not aware of that. Anand the S.D.M. who was sitting beside me told me in my ear to say, ‘yes I would do it’. Mehta who a big land lord and Namberdar of the village told the officials on my behalf that I was new and he would do it. D.C. (Gupta) who was young man remained silent through out meeting but the D.D.A. told me empathetically  “yes, you would have to do it as your Regional Manager had told me that they had posted the new manager and he would do it”. Though I remained sitting there to the end of the meeting, I was lost in the situation and what were the next agenda’s items did not go into my mind. When the meeting was over D.D.A., D.C. and B.D.O. were the first to leave the hall and we  followed them Anand advised me not to confront any official, he told me that he was telling me as a friend and as you are  new to the place and further asked me to come sometimes at Kaithal. When all had left Mehta introduced me and told me that I should not had argued, the time was very delicate. Immediately, when I reached office everybody was eagerly waiting for me and wanted to know what had happened and I narrated the whole incidence to the staff. My Agricultural officer, Dhingra became very nervous. My mind was not working beyond the happening in the Panchayat Ghar and situation prevailing in the Haryana. I immediately took the type writer and wrote three letters, one each to the D.D.A., B.D.O. and  D.C. with the same contents and endorsed the copy of each letter two others. The contents were: “In view of the keen interest shown by you and two others (named their designations) in the meeting held at Panchayat Ghar I have decided to finance Rajinder Singh even though his case was rejected by my predecessor. Please ask Rajinder Singh to complete the formalities.” The copies of these three letters were also endorsed to The Regional Manager and one separate letter was also addressed to The Regional Manager,  reminding him that the case after rejection had been referred to him for his guidance but till date no reply had been received from his office and on the contrary we had been told that his office had assured them that the new Manager would do it now. In absence of your clear cut instructions and assurance given by you to them I had decided to finance the case. After writing these letters I immediately posted them and my mind was very fresh and relaxed.

I told Dhingra, my Agricultural officer to do maximum cases which were genuine and take me to a few sites where we had made the financing. On my visit to sites I found that except the case financed in the Siwan village there was no structure even  and all the financing was fake and the B.D.O. had given the completion certificate even in all the cases. I wrote to the B.D.O that these particular cases were checked by us and we found even there was no structure even and requested him to look into the matter. The effect of all these letters was so deep that neither had they sent Rajinder Singh nor they replied my letters. Instead the D.D.A. met our Regional Manager and showed my letter to him and told him his manager was very shrewd and he had thrown the buck on them.  As I understand,  one of the senior officers of the Regional Office  told him that though I was a good worker but I would not do any wrong thing under pressure.

I used to come Yamuna Nagar at the week end on bus or on the Bank’s motor bike putting the petrol at my own cost. Some time Dhingra agricultural officer used to take me to his house at Kaithal. Whenever I used to come on motor bike, I used to bring two of my children with me and they used to stay with my for a week in the village. Once I took Nirmal with me for a week also. Harbans Lal Mehta, one of the  big  land lords of the village and a close friend of Manohar lal Sachdeva (my friend) used to take my family members occasionally to his house for dinner or lunch and some time during the day member of my family used to stay with his  children. Some times I used to accompany PL Bhatia, manager Oriental Insurance Company,Kaithal, from Kaithal to Yamuna Nagar on Saturdays. Harbans Lal’s father was suffering from acute pain from Cancer and I took Dr. Dayal a renowned Homeopath for his treatment from Jagadhri.

There were mostly agricultural advances and most of them were crop loan the disbursement was made through the co-operative societies. There were number of cases of dairy farming loan also. There was not much commercial business nor there any industry or artisans for financing. However, I finance one for a lathe and one to a stove manufacture. I initiated a proposal for shifting of the Bank premises on the road during my tenure. By and large I found my staff and the locals very cooperative, respectful and happy. Once, I was coming to  my office in the morning and passing through the street some one threw bucket of dirty water from the top floor of the house and I was fully drenched with filthy water and had to go back home to change my clothes but to save the thrower from humiliation I did not see toward the window from where it was thrown.

In those days for  out station duty full diem allowance was made for three months to the employees who were sent on deputation but after three months it was reduced to half (as if the employee starts earning from other sources). The rules were not based on any logic. I had completed three months and my Diem allowance also was reduced to half and I represented to the Regional Manager that I to be paid full allowance till I was required to stay here but the rules did not stand on any logic. The Regional office was not the rules maker they instead they send my promotion letter with posting order for Chandigarh Sector-17 as assistant Manager and I was to be relieved after joining of my substitute.

It was a small village and the news of my transfer might have reached to all the residents of the village. They did not want me to go from Siwan. One day Harbans Lal Mehta came to me and told me that a deputation of six people from Siwan had gone to Regional office without disclosing me to request the Regional Manager that I not to be transferred  from Siwan and they were prepared to provide all the best facilities to me as per my requirement. Incidentally, when they went to Regional Manager Office his friend Manohar Lal Sachdeva ( he was my friend also) saw them in the office and took them to his seat and asked them  the purpose of their coming to the Regional Office and  when they told their purpose to meet the Regional Manager. As per Mehta, Sachdeva questioned them how they find Sethi and they gave their opinion. Then Sachdeva asked then  if a man was good to them, would they  like to stand in  career  of a good man and the career of his children. He advised them that they should not do any thing with was against his interest if he was so good to them. The logic prevailed upon them and they abandoned  the idea of meeting the Regional Manager. Sachdeva entertained them with tea and snacks and advised them to  go back. His reasoning appealed to them that they should not do anything which was against the  good person for their personal interest and they came back without meeting the Regional Manager. Mehta expressed his gratitude for the service and love  given by me to the village but felt sorry for loosing me.

After a few days my substitute joined the branch and I was relieved from Siwan to join Chandigarh Sector-17 as an Assistant Manager.

CHAPTER-5 I joined Chandigarh branch Sector-17 as an Assistant Manager in May/june1975

                                                           DSC_0001                                       Frontal view of B.O. Sector-17, Chandigarh

So, I joined Chandigarh branch Sector-17 as an Assistant Manager in May/June 1975. This was my 2nd posting in Chandigarh. First, when, I was promoted as sub-accountant from Special Assistant and was posted in the District  Manager Office (Regional Office) as staff assistant, in-charge of personnel.  Immediately after reporting, I got myself  introduced to each members of the staff telling that I was their new colleague. Amarjeet Kaushal was already another Assistant Manager at the branch looking after Loans with ML Dhawan, an Accountant. KG Khurana was the Senior Manager. The branch was in the Bank Square in Sector-17 in a magnificent three story building known as PNB House. Business wise also, it was the largest Commercial Bank in Chandigarh.  The branch was on the ground floor . On first floor there was the Regional Office and the second floor was rented out to Food Corporation of India and to Khoslas. The staff strength of the office was over sixty including officers and the workmen staff. I was given the charge of the Hall with responsibility of the entire routine (minus Loan), coding- decoding of telegrams, Currency Chest. establishment, seat arrangements and Inspection Report (Appendix A).

The branch was a problematic office of the Region.  The indiscipline was at its virulent form. The staff generally used to come late and it could never be checked. There were three main Unions, one was the Officer Association whose Secretary was MS Bajwa and other two were workmen unions. Although both were affiliated to AIBEA, they had a separate entity. One was known as Punjab Union with Ravi Mehendirata as its Secretary and the other was Haryana Union with KK Gandhi as its Secretary. However, there was negligible presence of NOBW also. All the unions were very aggressive and they used to dictate even though it was as an emergency period. There were numerous complaints against the branch. On an average two to three customers used to go to the Regional Office daily with the complaints against the staff as the Regional Office was on its first floor. After joining I saw, felt and decided that my first priority should be to weed out the indiscipline and to make the staff to come in time and the  second was to improve the customer service so that the customer should not get a change to go to Regional Office with any complaint. The third but most important was to win the confidence of the entire staff without stooping. The job was an arduous and ambitious. The staff was required to reach the office by 9.45 a.m. so that the branch working could start at 10 at dot after making arrangements against the absentees. Simple issuing of the office order for its defiance was not advisable and it might have been tried also. Some respectable but firm tackling of the staff was required. It was a challenging job. I coolly worked out my strategy. At 9.45 a.m. I started standing at the Main Gate just to wish the late comers ‘Good Morning’. For about a week I used to say them ‘Namaste ji Kaya hall hai’ but after a week I started telling the still late comers: ‘please come a little earlier, if possible’ and used to add: ‘A few minutes neither matters to the Bank nor to you.’ I felt my standing at the gate and saying without offending words had some impact. After a fortnight or so, most of the members of  staff started coming in time. One or two persons still could not form the habit of coming in time to whom I called at my seat and asked them if they had any problem,  they could discuss with me and we would find out the solution. I assured them that I could adjust their duties timings accordingly. After that, by and large the staff was in time. There was no ‘halla gula’ or shouting in the branch which earlier was very common.I welcomed smilingly who so ever used to come to me. Each member of the staff was getting due respect from me irrespective of his status. While calling any one, I invariably affix ‘ji’ after their name. Almost my first and the last priority were  achieved.

Now, I started concentrating on the second priority i.e. improvement in the Customer Service. I wanted that there should be no undue rush at any counter and the customer should be disposed of immediately. In the morning after getting the Currency Chest opened and completing the staff arrangements, I had a number of telegrams received at my table concerning Telegraphic Money Transfer, Realisation of Bills and DDs for which first decoded and then check symbol was to be checked. It was a time consuming and delicate task as lacs of rupees was involved. There after, I used to keep my self at the disposal of the customers and keep my eyes on the counters besides passing of the vouchers/Cheques which were beyond the powers of the Accountants. There were about four tellers in the branch. Some times there used to be a great rush at a particular teller-seat and I used to rush to the teller-seat immediately and stand by the teller and used to take the Cheques from the customers and would tally their signatures of the drawer and take out the teller card from the card box and used to give it to the Teller to post it and make the payment to the customers. (In absence of  computer all this was done manually).  In this way the customers were disposed of expeditiously and it used to take hardly half an hour to assist the Teller to clear the rush. Further, I found certain lady staff used to leave the branch early without telling officially. Finding the seat vacant I used to enquire  from her companion sitting next to her seat why that particular lady had left early. Normally, the reply used to be that her child was sick. The next day I used to go to her seat and used to enquire about the welfare of her child and used to tell whenever she had any problem she could go after telling me so that I could manage her seat in her absence .  With the result the lady staff used to tell before hand when she wanted to go and I used to ask if there was any work pending. Normally they used to finish the work and if any work on her seat came later I used to ask her next companion if he could help me to do her work as I had permitted her to go.

With the acute shortage of staff normally draft issue and TPO seats had to be closed but TPO and drafts for the bills were left out in the afternoon as the seat remained closed and these drafts and TPO had to be issued on the same day. For that, I used to call one of the hard-nut employees who had finished his work at my seat and ask him if he could help me in preparing the drafts and the TPOs and there had been no occasion when any of them had refused. Had I asked  the normal employee in a normal course there could be obstructions from these hard-nuts. When the Manager used to go on leave Kaushal, who was senior to me used to officiate in his place but there were a few occasions when both were on leave and I had to officiate as Manager. Once, when I was officiating as Manager and the staff was free from their work in the evening I called the union leaders and hard-nut employees who were present in the branch for a cup of tea in the Manager’s cabin and placed the problem, that I had to request them frequently for the help to finish the pending work and I told them that it did not look honourable to me to request them every now and then, I also acknowledged that, even though, they never refused me.  After all the pending work was being done by them alone and asked them why not we re- chalk the duty sheet and spare two three workers who could be used in leave arrangements. This talk was just a casual and it was not pre-planned, but by this time my relations with the staff had developed so cordial that they immediately agreed. After reviewing the work load on each seat we all felt that we could spare seven employees. After doing this exercise, I told them to give thought to this proposal and tell me if it could be implemented. The members of staff sitting there, were emotionally so charged, that they told me that I should issue the office order that  very day so that it could be implemented from the following day and they told: more over the next day Khurana, the Manager would be joining and they had apprehension that it might not be  implemented . Now, they were more anxious then me. One of them immediately brought the officer order book and I wrote the re-chalked duty sheet and signed the office order for its implementation from the next day.

The very next morning, the bickering started immediately after the opening of the branch by the effected staff and union leaders after seeing the office order. KK Gandhi, the Secretary of the Haryana Union was most vocal and he with his a few comrades  rushed to me and told me that I should cancel that office order as this was neither practicable nor acceptable. I told them that they should  give a trial to the new duty sheet and if it was found that it was  not workable I would amend it. Gandhi still remained adamant and insisted that I should not implement the new duty sheet. I told him politely but firmly, ‘Gandhi Ji please give a trial and I would amend the Duty Sheet if it was found that it affected the smooth working and told them, ‘after all  I too don’t want any of my colleague be over burdened and it was my concern also. I further said’ I don’t want the child  be put to death before its birth’. Now the office order had been issued and we should sincerely give a trial and watch it and would review it. Gandhi and his members left to their seats unsatisfied. But in the evening, Gandhi called a meeting of all of his members and again came to see me in deputation with full  determination to get the new duty sheet cancelled. Some of the members of the deputation were present in the last day meeting in the Manager’s cabin and they had actively participated in the drafting of the new Duty Sheet and now they were the members of the deputation also. But I did not raise this point to save them from humiliation. KK Gandhi again was the main spokesman and I again cleared my intentions to them firmly  and advised them to work on the new Duty Sheet  sincerely  and reminded them  I was equally concerned about my staff members  including their members also. Then they pointed one particular seat where the work load had actually increased abnormally. I assured them that I would review it and they disbursed. I personally observed that the working of the re-drafted duties and found that one particular seat actually was not workable and I readjusted the seat by inducting the one of the spared clerk on regular seat with redistribution of the work. Even then I could spare six clerks to be used as leave reservist and work went on smoothly.  This was an abnormal achievement.

It was part of my nature to listen who so ever used to come to me with any problem and after giving thought over it and I used to try to find out its solution. This was envy to some self styled leaders as they were to loose their importance.  It especially, affected  MS Bajwa, the Secretary of the Officer Association, even though I was members of his Association but it was different that I belonged to the different group.  Bajwa was very aggressive and rash leader. I was told that he was very harsh to the customers also. It was brought to my notice that once, when he had an argument with one customer, he jumped over the counter to catch hold of him. Similarly I was told about VK Balwar, a clerk, who used to pick up the quarrel with KK Bhutani, another clerk  and once, Balwar picked up a quarrel with Bhutani and threw a glass-ink-pot on his head but his head had a narrow escape. I was also told these violent quarrels among the staff members were common  in banking hours.  I took a special care that all these hot-headed rash people and tried to chanalise their energies for some constructive and purposeful work and I used to assign such work, which a normal employee would not like to do. Among them VK Balwar and Delar Singh were on the top. Occasionally, I used to call them to my seat and used to acknowledge their potential energies and used to make them feel that they had strong potentials and can do extraordinary work and could help me to improve the image of the branch. My friendly counseling and handling worked and the most difficult task I used to assigned to them.

Saving Fund Ledger when manual posting was done.
Saving Fund Ledger when manual posting was done.

Once, I called Balwar and told him to look at the conditions of Saving Fund Ledgers all most all the ledgers had become loose and their leaves were coming out and some of the leaves had already been torn out. I told him that I wanted to see these ledgers tidy and asked him if he could do that job whenever he was free. He gladly agreed. There were over hundred  such ledgers. (There were no computers those days). Whenever, he was free he would  bring one of the such ledgers at my table and open the ledger with the key and and amend  each leaf and set them right and then would tight the ledge with the key. Almost all the ledgers were set right by him. Any ordinary worker would not have touched this dirty job. When ever I had time on Sundays and holidays I used to visit the houses of the employees for a cup of tea. I used to join their social functions also and this not only enhanced my social status, it helped me to win over their confidence also. I was regular visitor to Jaigopal Kapai who was  Manager at B.O Sector-19 and was living in the same street where I was living. He was Regional General Secretary of the Officer Association of the Region.  When I came to Chandigarh on my promotion as Assistant Manager I stayed with him till I got the house and brought my family from Yamuna Nagar. Jai Gopal Kapahai was living with his mother, brother Vinod and sister Prabha. His father used to come from Majitha occasionally.  All the members of his family were very caring and it was Jai Gopal who helped me to get a house in his street. All my children got admission in the Schools. I had link with R.S.S. from my childhood. It was emergency period and there was ban on RSS.  Prof Pran Nath Sawhney from Yamuna Nagar was occasionally staying with me as he was underground beside Narain Dass ji, state pracharak.  Thakur Ram Singh a Senior RSS  Pracharak also stayed with me for night. My son Rakesh used to drop the literature of  RSS against the ‘emergency’ in the letter boxes of the resident of Sector-18-C very late at night. Till he used to come back after completion of the job I used to remain worried, though in my childhood I was more aggressive and bold but now I was a father.

I was required to supervise the staff arrangement as number of staff used to remain on leave and I was to ensure that there was staff on every seat before the branch business was to start though establishment Accountant, MR Goyal was with me to do this job. After  opening of the cash and dealing with the telegrams I used to entertain the customers who had any problem and used to be in the hall to see if any customer was un-attended. I used to ensure prompt customer service and proper discipline in the office. In the evening large number drafts and  TPO relating to Bills were required to be signed me as second signatory. There were many telegrams to be sent in coded form with applying of check symbols which was also very tedious and time consuming. Then the Currency Chest had to be closed and by putting the residual bundles in the currency chest and the balance Cash in the Bank Cash Safe. A daily statement was required to be sent to Reserve Bank of India for movement of the cash during the day from the Currency Chest. Most of my time was consumed in this daily routine with top most priority to attend the customers. I was also required to attend the Appendix ‘A’ of the inspection report relating to the entire routine of the branch which I could never do as the details were required to be collected from the different sections. I suggested the Manager that as the removal of the discrepancies were to be done by the different section under my control and the report be  split-ted into section wise and distributed to the respective accountants for their removal the irregularities and I should consolidate them and send to the Inspection Department at Head Office, but my suggestion was pooh pooh. With the result the Appendix ‘A’ could never be attended.

One day, an old lady customer came to me with a pass book that my staff was not completing it after she had got the amount transferred to her Fixed Deposit account. I asked the F.D. in-charge why he could not get her Pass Book completed, he told that the Saving Fund in-charge had refused to get it completed and then I enquired from the S.F. in- charge also who told me that OP Sharma the ledger keeper had refused to complete the Pass Book. I took the pass book from the customer and went to Sharma. Instead of asking him why he had not completed the Pass Book. I asked for the relative ledger.  Sharma threw the ledger to ward me and I completed the Pass Book and gave it to the customer. When I was making the entries in the Pass Book, Sharma said in annoyance, ‘Hamari kia izat rah gai’. I told Sharma, ‘Sharma ji, kisi ka kam kar ke izat banti hai, kisi ko nah kar ke nahai’. In the afternoon, I issued an office order ordering that Sharma to work on the Dispatch seat from the coming  day. I sent the Office order for his noting. When the peon showed him the office order he came to me shouting that he would not go to the dispatch seat, rather he would go on leave. I told him that it would be his own option but I would not reverse my orders. He brought his union representatives.  I narrated them the day’s incidence and told them that he would have to go to dispatch seat from next day. They pleaded his case and wanted to assure me that it would not be repeated in future but I remained firm and told them that let him first go to dispatch seat and then I would see. They went on pleading for him but I refused to change my orders. From next day Sharma proceeded on leave for one week and then he got his leave extended when I told his union representative that I was sticking to my orders. I think he remained on leave for more then one month but my stand remained unchanged. Once, he sent a message through JR Sharma an accountant that he would pour kerosene oil on his body before my residence.  I conveyed through Sharma to tell him that it would be his decision and my decision would not alter. After a fortnight or so he resumed duty to sit on dispatch seat.

It was Monday, 17th November, 1975 and next day, on Tuesday, was holiday. All most entire officer staff of the branch was on leave baring MS Bajwa, accountant on Current Seat. There was one inquiry seat out side the counter in the hall where an  officer was posted as besides opening of the new accounts and its attestation all the inter branch advices  were required to be signed by that officer under his distinctive number. But enquiry seat was considered inferior to other seats as officer had to sit in isolation. For me, there was no other option but to put Bajwa, the officer on that seat. I called Bajwa and requested him go to the inquiry seat as there was no other officer in the branch who could be deputed there. He abruptly told me that he would not go to the enquiry seat. I explained him that there was no other alternative, but he became arrogant and told me that he would not go to the enquiry seat.  When I told him that I was putting an office order; he replied in arrogance that he would proceed on leave. I had to tell him that if he proceeded on leave I would reject his leave.When I sent the office order for his noting, in anger, he hurriedly came to my table and threw the keys of his drawer along with his leave application on my table and said, ‘mai dekhna meri chhuti kon reject karda hai’ but before he could leave my table I told him, ‘meri chhuti reject ki hoai Chairman bhi nahi sanction kar sakda’. Bajwa was very confident of his relations with the Regional Manager VP Amar and he left the banking hall hurriedly. I immediately  rejected his leave putting the remarks on his leave application that ‘since he had joined the office in the morning and when he was asked to sit on enquiry seat he proceeded on leave by throwing the keys and leave application on my table which was a gross misconduct, beside taking disciplinary action by the competent authority his leave is rejected and his salary for the day be deducted’. Now, the last option with me was to put workman special Assistant on that seat who too was authorised to sign the inter-branch advices. I issued another officer order, requiring RK Puri, Special Assistant to sit on the enquiry seat as MS Bajawa had left the office when he was asked to sit on the inquiry seat.

Bajwa remained coming  and going in the office to observe the development in the office but after sometimes he left the office abruptly and he might have gone to meet the Regional Manager, VP Amar. All the staff members were watching this drama and were in suspense to know how Bajwa the un-challenged militant leader would be handled. In the after noon I submitted the report to the Officiating Manager, Kaushal as Khurana, Manager was on leave. On 19th  November, when the office opened there was much activity in the branch and the employees who were on leave on Monday were also present. There was simmering amongst the groups through out the day,  knowing that the strong man had been marked absent without pay, but no body came to me. However, during the day GL Mehra who was in-charge of the staff seat in the Regional Office came to me and asked me what I had done. I explained him the situation under which I was forced to take such drastic action. He gave me a hint that VP Amar, the Regional Manager expected me not to take action against Bajwa and should sanction his leave but at the same time he told me that he had not been asked by him to tell me so. I told Mehra that The R.M. was my senior most boss and he could sanction his leave. He left, telling, how he could sanction his leave when once it has been rejected by me. In the after noon VP Dhand, the very Senior Manager, met me out side the Banking Hall and said the same thing and I replied the same what I had told Mehra. Dhand advised me to sanction his leave as he had a nuisance value. There after no body came to me. The Officiating Manager, Kaushal issued him a memo simply giving my observations in inverted comas. When Khurana, the permanent manager, returned he also advised me the same after knowing the incidence and after meeting the Regional Manager but my stand remained unchanged. It was not that I was against any one but that was the question of my existence in the branch the self-respect  which was stake.

After a few days, it was Saturday fore-noon, suddenly the branch received my transfer orders from the Regional Office posting me to the Rasoi as an Officer-In-charge. When I saw my transfer orders I was neither disturbed nor provoked but instead, I immediately delivered the letter to MR Goel, establishment accountant who was sitting beside me and told him ‘Here are my transfer orders’ and asked him to prepare my L.P.C. (last pay certificate) so that I may get  myself relieved. The news of my transfer orders spread in the hall in minutes. Many of the staff members  when they came to know of my transfer and suggested me, not to get relieved but fight for this unwarranted transfer. I told them politely and coolly told that I had no interest in Chandigarh and thanked them for their concern for me. When I reached home I told members of my family that I had been transferred to Rasoi (Raee) near Delhi on G.T.Road. No body was disturbed after knowing my transfer but Nirmal, my wife, suggested me that I should take leave for a week, at least, for my son Rakesh who was to appear in  matric (10th) examination in that very week . She suggested that I should be present at-least during his first two papers (English & Math). I also thought that that was necessary and I took leave for a week. Certain workmen staff of the branch also came to my house in the evening to impress upon me that I should fight for that un-warranted transfer but I told them that it was the management prerogative to transfer me anywhere and more so I had no interest in Chandigarh.  I thanked them for their feelings.  The news about the action taken by me against Bajwa by me and my transfer to Rasoi spread very fast to all the branches of Chandigarh  and every body in the branches was  keenly watching the development. Both the events were not small in the history of Chandigarh Region.  Bajwa was a very strong and militant leader as a workman also. Jai Gopal Kapahi was very close friend of mine and he was living in the same street, It was natural, the news of  my transfer reached his branch also. Kapahi was officiating as Manager at Sector-22 branch. In the evening he straight came to my house. He was General Secretary of the Officer Association of the Region also. He wanted to know my reaction about the  transfer.  I told him that I would like to go rather to stoop and but I told him that I wanted to take leave for one week for Rakesh’s Exams.

Kapahi after a pause  said, so I had finally decided to go but abruptly he told me there was Garwahli Pandit in Sector-8 and asked me to accompany him next morning to Sector-8 .He was master in Astrology. Next morning it was Sunday, he took me to the Pandit ji. The Pandit ji was sitting alone in the outer room of his house which was his puja -cum- visitor’s room. Pandit ji from his appearance was not impressive. His body structure was  very week and there was no shine or smile on his face and he must be around 50 . His head almost remained down through out the period we stayed with him, but he was listening aptly what Kapahai was telling about me. I think Kapahai might have told him about the placement of my stars as Kapahai already knew my horoscope. After seeing my stars  for a while he immediately told  feebly, without lifting his head that there was no transfer. I told him that I had received written orders but without re-looking my stars, he  repeated that there was no transfer (I don’t remember if Kaphai had  discussed much in detail about the placement of my stars). It was beyond my  comprehensions what he was telling, when the transfer letter had been received by me and I knew it can not be changed, in view of my stand also, but there was no change in his stand he was still firm though feebly. I was very much confused with his reply as it was against the facts. How could I expect moon in the broad day light but because of my persistent disagreement he told me that my placement was in a big city. I told him that Rasoi, the place of my posting was close to Delhi but he was not prepared to change his stand and told me that it was  only in a big city. Though out his talk he did not moved his head up and rarely looked at our face  to see our reactions and there was not a single wrinkle of simile on his face even. Then I asked him: what would happen to the letter which the branch had been received, he told me that he did not know but he only knew that there was no transfer from Chandigarh. There would be a transfer after my promotion at a later stage. He was telling what was visibly impossible and unconvincing. Pandit ji was not like other astrologers who used to impress their clients with their talks and body postures. His talk and reply was very short.

We took leave of him but before leaving him,  abruptly I asked Pandit ji:  “what if I  write a very strong letter to the Regional Manager to show my resentment”?  He told me that I could write anything what so ever I wanted and it would have no adverse effect on me but he rather advised me that  I should write and the  letter should reach his office at 11 O’clock forenoon on Tuesday (a day after). Kapahi gave him nominal ‘Dakshna’   and we came back to Kapahi’ house and I told Kapahi that I did not have faith and Pandit ji was talking imaginary and impossible things when we already had received the written orders. Kapahi remarked that  we had  lost nothing by going to him.  He brought a few sheets of the paper and a pen  and told me  to write whatever was in my mind. My mind was full to brim and it wanted the burst only.  I started writing and I filled more than three pages. Kapahai read  it put more force in the language. The letter was finalised and he took the letter to his office for getting it typed from Kamlesh Sharma who was then typist in his office. Kamlesh was living just opposite to his house. He called Kamlesh at his residence and told him that next morning (Monday) they had to go office very early to type my letter before the staff was to come. Next morning, they both went to the office early in the morning, final shaping were given by Kamlesh while typing in consultation with Kapahi and in the evening  Kapahi came to my house with the typed  letter, The letter was a ‘bomb shell’and I could be held liable for disciplinary action for writing such a nasty letter.  If the authorities had taken the things seriously and honestly and VP Amar, the Regional Manager could be called upon for his comments because of the facts  given in my letter. In the letter I traced the actions taken by me to improve the atmosphere of the branch by improving the discipline, the customer service with 0% complaints, taking out two employees from the regular duties as leave reservist which was impossible task and all this was not liked by certain disgruntled elements and charged that these elements had an indirect support from the higher ups. Embolden with indirect support from some senior officers Bajwa dared to flout the lawful office order. When action was taken by me, this was not palatable to the senior officers and hence I was transferred to B.O. Rasoi. Though this letter was addressed to the Regional Manager but in the closing para I wrote that I was endorsing a copy to that letter to higher authorities so that facts may come to lime light.

The next day was Tuesday, I sent my son Rakesh to deliver the letter to the Regional Manger office dot at 11.00 am as advised by Pandit ji. The letter was received by Girdhari Lal Mehra who was on the main staff assistant in the Regional Office. As the letter was from me, he must have read it immediately and had taken  it to VP Amar, the Regional Manager. In the afternoon Kapahi received a telephone from BN Gupta, the Area Manager inquiring if I was at Chandigarh and told him that he should tell Sethi to meet him in the evening at his residence. When Kapahi came from his office he told me about the telephone he received from Gupta. I told Kapahi that my conscious did not permit me to see him and Kapahi  left. It was just dusk when JN Malhotra, the Assistant Regional Manager came to my house. Without touching upon the letter which I had written to the Regional Manager  he advised me that I should go and see the Regional Manager at his residence just then  and he told me that he might cancel my transfer orders but I told him that I was not interested in cancellation of my  transfer.  He tried his best to persuade me but I was adamant. He tried to convince me for more than half an hour but  I was not budging. Ultimately the he commanded : ‘ look! he was friend of Jadish Uppal (my brother-in-law) and he had every right on me to force me to go to the R.M in his interest and told me that he was equally concerned about my well fare and forced me to change my clothes (as I was wearing informal dress) and told me that he would not go from my place till I moved out. Reluctantly I changed my clothes and he brought me near to my motor bike and told me  to start and go.

I never wanted to go to see the Regional Manager especially at the late hours and more so my conscious was not permitting me for going there. Forced as I was on way to The Regional Manager’s house. On the way I thought why not I should  meet BN Gupta, the Area Manger first who had sent a massage for meeting him though Kapahi. BN Gupta was living in Sector 15-C while VP Amar was living in Sector 16-A. As my mind worked, I went to Gupta.’s house first.  Immediately on seeing me he asked me what letter I had sent to R.M. Sahib. I enquired from him if he had read the letter. He told  me that even though he had not read the letter but there was great unrest in the office and he only was told  that a serious  letter had  been sent by Sethi. I took out a copy of my letter which I had written to RM and gave him  to read. After reading the letter he asked, if I had posted the copies of the letter to H.O. I told him that I had not sent the copy as yet. He advised me that I should not post the copy of the letter to H.O. and he too advised me that I should go and see Amar at his residence then. I told him that my conscious did not permit . He also put full pressure on me to see Amar immediately after going from him. I took the copy of the letter from Gupta and with in five minutes I was at Amar’s residence. (The location of his residence was explained by Malhotra before sending me to his house).  When I gave a ring at his door an elderly lady (Mrs. Amar) came from inside and asked about me. I gave my identity and told her that I had come to see Amar Sahib. Mrs. Amar told me that Amar was not at home and had just gone some where. I had a sigh of relieve. I thanked God that I had been saved from the humiliation as my  mind was still in conflict and I came home quite relieved.

Very early in the morning next day. I went to Kapahi’s residence and briefed him about the happenings after he left my house last night. We had long discussions over a cup of tea. I told him that Malhotra would again be coming to me at night to know what had transpired between me and  Amar. Then it was decided that I should give a ring to Amar at his residence at the time when he was just to leave for the office so that it would be confirmed to him that last night I had visited him  but he was not available. A little after 9.30 I gave him a ring. When Amar heard me, his immediate response was that I might come to his house now. For a minute I got confused, never expecting this offer as this was time for his office going. But immediately regained my mental composition and told him that I had not taken my bath even. Then he told me that I could come to his office at 11 O’clock which I had to confirm.

I came back to my house confused and got ready to reach Regional Office at the stipulated time. When I reached the Regional Office, the Regional Manager was busy in some meeting. When I sent my slip to him, he immediately disbursed the meeting and I was called in immediately in his cabin. After my salutation he told me to sit down and called the peon to bring two cups of tea. He gave me sufficient time that I should speak out but I had not spoken any thing and was simply replying his casual questions.  He ultimately had to ask me now what, as if he was expecting me that I would request him to cancel my transfer and was no coming out. I told him that I had been asked by Malhotra to see you.  So far he was very soft, he had presented me a New Year Calendar also but when he found that I had not come to request him to cancel my transfer, his tone was changed immediately and asked me, did I want to black mail him by writing such letter. I told very coolly that if I had written anything objectionable he could take action against me. There after he asked me did I think that he would cancel my transfer in that way. I politely replied that he might go through my letter, I had no where requested him to cancel my transfer orders. I replied that in the letter I had just given vent to my feelings. There was deadlock. Even after giving me more than half an hour we were no where. Finding that I was not going to request him for the cancellation of my transfer he called in the ARM, JN Malhotra and asked him what was to be done.  Malhotra taking it that the matter had been sorted out, he told him that I would take my letter back and would give a letter of request explaining some of my compulsions for cancellation of my transfer. He looked toward me to get my node. Reluctantly, I said I had no objection. Then Amar expressed his apprehension to Malhotra that I might have sent copy the letter to H.O. There on I said I swear I had not sent the copy of that letter to H.O. so far. There after he called Girdhari Lal Mehra, the Staff Assistant and told him to bring my letter. When he gave my letter to him, he once again read a few lines from my letter and handed over the same  to me. I tore my letter in their presence.  Malhotra gave me a piece of paper with pen and I wrote a letter of request stating  that the education of  my children would be disturbed with this transfer  and I might be allowed to continue at Chandigarh. After all this exercise when I stood up to leave his room, he told me to keep sitting  there and go after getting the letter of my posting at B.O.Sector-16 as an Officer-in-charge. He called the steno and dictated him my cancellation- cum- posting orders. I found that Amar was very much disturbed at that time, he was unable to give him dictation in the proper form. Otherwise, Amar had a very high mental caliber and had good command over English and drafting. He was intelligent and sharp also but that day he was keeping low profile. But at the same time from me there was no sign of excitement. I remained composed though out. There was no feeling of dejection when I entered his room and now there was no feeling of triumph when I got my orders cancelled. When the Steno had gone after taking the dictation he told me that it was unfortunate that they had to suspend VP Aggarwal the present Officer-in- charge of that office. I impulsively said, he was perhaps under bad stars. Amar immediately reacted and said perhaps I was under good stars.

In the meanwhile Girdhari lal  Mehra came and said the letter needed some changes and told Amar that he would get my letter signed from him and he would like to take me to his seat. I calmly thanked Amar and came out of his cabin with him. Mehra had already given dictation in the right form of the orders to the steno. Mehra told me that Sahib could not give the dictation in the proper form. (This was the seat where I had been working for about two years before I got my self transfer to Jagadhri Workshop as Sub- Accountant In-charge and handed over charge to Mehra). He got the letter signed from the Regional Manager and handed over to me. After getting the letter I once again went to  Amar and Malhotra to thank them. All these developments were miracles and sudden. I got what was disdained without any air of triumph. I had no God Father in the bank. Could this happen? The fast unexpected developments were beyond my comprehensions. I already had mentally accepted my transfer to Rasoi without any pinch, resistance and resentment. My going with Kapai to Pandit ji was just spontaneous and casual, with least expectations. The talk and personality of Pandit ji too was not appealing even. There were written transfer orders against which I was not prepared to represent. Asking Pandit ji if I could write letter to R.M. was also casual. There was no planned matter in my mind to write against. My writing too was just a narration of the events in chronological order though I blamed that unsavory events had indirect backing of some senior officer. The language was straight but it somehow became effective and exceptionally strong with help of Kapahi and Kamlesh. But at no stage it gave me any feeling that it could shake the administration and compel them to reverse the orders. I knew Amar was a good administrator with excellent command over the drafting and a man who could never succumb to any pressure. I have not much to get credit for the cancellation of my orders for Rasoi and then getting posting the P.O.Sector-16, Chandigarh. I was a simple actor in the play directed by some invisible force.

Copy of Letter written to Shri VP Amar (Regional Manager)

“Respected Amar Sahib,

The promulgation of emergency called for discipline which leads to improved efficiency and better productivity. This discipline however, is not an unilateral affair. Whereas it is required of employees to work with dedication and in obedience to the instructions of the superior, it is in turn, expected of the Superiors that they should also administer with fairness and impartiality. As nothing is more inspiring than the fair-mindedness and encouragement on the part of one’s superiors and nothing is more demoralising than the fear on the minds of employees of their being victimised and discriminated against at their hands!

The indiscipline was in its virulent form at B.O. Sector-17 Chandigarh. The containment of indiscipline has been engaging the attention of the authorities for a pretty long time. Considering that I could be instrumental in inculcating a sense of discipline and involvement among the employees and also be able to render a personalised and courteous service to customers, I was posted as Assistant Manager at B.O. Sector-17 Chandigarh in April/May, 1975. I am very much distressed to say that instead of appreciating my services, I have been rather punished and victimised by ordering my unwarranted and unjustified transfer to PO Rasoi. All my efforts directed towards restoration of discipline, efficiency and rendering courteous service to clientele have been set at nought by this motivated transfer, which was devoid of any administrative exigency, whatsoever.

In order to streamline the routine, the duties of Supervisory staff were changed vide office order No. 180 dated 9/9/75. This office order was noted under protest by a section of officer/Special Assistants, who have old complicity amongst themselves due to their long stay at Chandigarh. It had been their endeavour to create indiscipline and chaos at work and subdue other co-workers to assert their supremacy in order to serve their vested interest. The unfortunate aspect of the matter is that certain people at the helm help them to succeed in their evil designs that is detrimental to the interest of the institution.

The attention of Mr. Khurana, Manager, BO Sector-17 Chandigarh was drawn to the fact that the office order was noted under protest by a section of supervisory staff. The fact was also brought to your kind attention by the undersigned. I also apprised both of you that this will create a bad precedent and would lead to indiscipline among other members of the staff. The matter was pooh-poohed and no action was taken. Emboldened by the indirect support, Mr. Bajwa who was the instigator in the above case had the temerity to defy office order No. 206 dated 17/11/75 and challenged and threatened to get the matter settled through your agency. A report about the misbehaviour of the said officer was submitted to your office, shortly after the incident but no action seems to have been taken so far. On the contrary, I am now being pressurised by Mr. Khurana in your name to reconcile the matter with this errant officer. A few days after this incident I was transferred to PO Sector-19, Chandigarh, with the intention that upon its upgradation I would be pushed out of Chandigarh. It is a different matter that the orders could not be executed, as its Incumbent In-charge declined to accept promotion and move out of Chandigarh.

Recently again Mr. Bajwa misbehaved with the undersigned on 21/2/76, which was brought to the notice of officiating manager. Now, again, immediately after this incident, I have been transferred to PO Rasoi. Could this be a coincidence or calculated design to harass and victimise me for being a disciplined efficient and good worker?. The entire atmosphere of discipline and belongingness, which I had been able to create among staff during the past few months, has been vitiated and negated by this uncalled for transfer.

Owing to heavy absenteeism amongst the clerical staff many a public counter had to be closed which not only incurred public apathy and annoyance, but was antithesis to the concept of customer service. This had been the case for past many years. I got an opportunity to officiate as Manager for three four days only and did not feel diffident to spare 6 clerical hands who were utilised in the best interest of the branch (Vide Office Order No.157 dated 15/7/75).

The branch is provided with a Manager and two Assistant Managers. I was assigned the duties of customer service, staff management, entire routine, Appendix ‘A’ and check symbol of Telegrams etc.; whereas the other Assistant Manager was simply tagged with Loans and Foreign Exchange section, which was already being independently handled by a Senior Accountant viz., Mr. ML Dhawan. He has simply been attending to Appendix B & C. The justification for providing an additional Assistant Manager to that department exclusively needs immediate relook. The manager, Mr. Khurana on the other hand keeps himself busy in entering the Dak in the Inward Dak Receipt register for most of the time, simply to avoid meeting customers and members of staff and involving himself and sorting out other important problems of the office. He simply shirks responsibility. He is indifferent to the constructive suggestions for development of business and regulation of routine of office. It can be said without any fear of contradiction that whatever development, the office had made during the last half-year; was not due to any efforts on the part of Shri Khurana, rather the credit goes to The Regional Manager, the Area Manager, (Sh.BN Gupta) and technical staff, Sarvshri Shukla, Nagar and Bedi.

I remained so much occupied with customer routine and staff problems that Appendix ‘A’ could not be attended to. I had suggested Mr. Khurana that it should be dealt with by respective supervisors/ Accountants section wise and later on compiled by me. On the alternative, the staff matters, be taken out from me or be given to the other Assistant Manager so that I may be able to streamline the routine and deal with the Appendix. My suggestion, however, found no takers.

At the previous place of my posting (Jagadhri Workshop), I did a commendable job in developing business of the bank. There was record increase in deposits and advances, especially in priority sector. I was a recipient of reward for good work done by me during the half-year 31/12/74; earlier I used not to send the entry form, as I considered that work is a reward in itself; although increase in earlier half-years was much more than  the half-year for which I got the reward. The percentage increase in deposits for the half years was: 31.12.72 (61.9%), 30.6.73 (32.37%), 31.12.73 (34.34%), 30.6.74 (29.51%), and 31.12.74 (18.38%). I made over 95 advances to Rickshaw Pullers, Small Scale Industries and small Loan to Black Smith, Carpenters etc.

I feel, unnecessary and avoidable harassment has been caused to me, by ordering this unwarranted and unjustified transfer for obvious reasons. Immeasurable hardship has been caused to me and my family and mental peace disturbed for no fault of mine. Transfer is a normal incident of service and I would not have given vent to my feelings, had it been done on reasonable and rational grounds.

I am endorsing a copy of this letter to the higher authorities, so that the facts may come to light.

With kind regards

Yours faithfully,

(Y.P.Sethi)

Assistant Manager,

B.O. Sector -17,

Chandigarh.

The beautiful Rose Garden in Sector-16
The beautiful Rose Garden in Sector-16
Frontal view of B.O.Sector-16, Chandigarh.
Frontal view of B.O.Sector-16, Chandigarh.  CHANDIGARH SECTOR-16

I did not go to B. O. Sector-17 to receive reliving letter as the Regional office had already given me the posting orders. After availing the leave, I straight away went to Sector- 16 branch to report for duties.  In absence of VP Aggarwal, the Officer In-charge who was on leave and DN Dhawan, the Accountant was officiating as In-charge. There was nothing to report in charge taking and I sent my charge taking report subject to eradication of the discrepancies reported in the Inspection Reports. I met members of the staff ;  who were, DN Dhawan, Accountant (temporary attached to this office),  Jain (Special Assistant), OK Rishi, (Teller), Shiv Malhotra (Head Cashier), Shakuntla, Vijay Khosla, Miss Sharma (Clerks), Dhenju Ram (Daftri), Dayal (peon) Om Parkash (peon-cum-guard), Piara Singh (Guard) and Asa Ram (Sweeper).

I don’t know how the staff took my joining but every one was aware of the developments, I perceived. I occupied the Manager’s Chair.The Bank Building was in Shop-cum-Residence. The Bank premises was on the ground floor and the first floor was for residence of the Officer-in-charge but  it was lying vacant as the Incumbent  was living  in his own house at Sector-15-B.  Earlier it was occupied by MS Gupta the Development Officer who was transferred. I shifted my family to first floor immediately after joining the branch.The residence was very good and far better than I was having in Sector-18. There were two bed rooms, one Drawing Room one kitchen and one store. The main Entrance was from the back street with entry from the branch also. The residence was furnished with two beds, one Sofa Set and one Dining table. The children were happy to get this good accommodation and more so it was independent and specious, very convenient for me to take my lunch at home and save my conveyance for daily coming and going to the office.

DN Dhawan, Accountant was temporarily attached to this office who had come from Delhi on compassionate grounds.  His son was Chief Marketing Executive in PUNSUP and his both the kidneys had failed. Dhawan had donated his one kidney to his son but that too failed after one year and now he was on dialyses and they were looking for kidney donor.

The office had a very bad reputation in the area as the customer service at its low ebb. The most mischievous person was Vijay Khosla s/o RK Khosla a tall union leader and I was told that Vijay used to take alcohol during the office hours also and in the evening he used roam heavily drunkard near the bank premises and also used to speak filthy. The other was  Shakunlta, who used to work at her vim and was arrogant also. The indiscipline in the branch was in its virulent and the customers were scanty. There was no body to check their nuisance even though the Regional Manager was residing a few hundred yards from the branch. After opening of the office, they used to gather around the table of Jain, Special Assistant and used to gossip. The doors of cabin of the in-charge used to remain closed.

Immediately, on my joining,  I got both the doors of my cabin removed so there could be free access to the customers and the staff. Otherwise the front door was always kept closed and most of the customers were hesitant to approach the  manager in case of any problem. The  very next day, I called Vijay Khosla in my cabin and told him firmly that I wanted discipline in the office and told him that after work in the office I would not like to see him loitering near the bank premises and he should go straight to his house after Banking hours and told him strongly that, ever if,  I found him loitering in the evening near bank premises, I would slap him which his daddy perhaps might not do, and further I told him that perhaps he did not know me. He replied that he knew me very well and  told me that I was helpful and hard as well and he further told me that he knew that I had taken action against the militant leader like Bajwa.  He assured me that there would be no complaint from him. Then I called for the account open and close Register with a few account opening forms, new Pass Books, F.D. receipt book and a few blank vouchers and pay-in-slips.

My door was opened to the customers. Now the customers were not hesitant to come to me. For opening of the new accounts I used to fill their forms and send them to the Cashier for depositing the cash. By the time the customer used to come after depositing the cash I would get ready the new Pass Book/ Fixed Deposit Receipt. After taking the counter file  from the customers which they used to get from the cashier and  I used give them pleasant surprise by handing over the Pass Book / F.D. Receipt. Earlier, the customer had to ask  the staff ,when he should come to collect the Pass Book or Fixed Deposit Receipt. This development was being watched by the staff that I was doing all this work myself to render quick service to the customers and instead of asking them. They gradually started following me and started to give prompt service to the customers. I did not call the formal meeting of the staff to tell them that they should give good service to the Customers or they were carrying a bad reputation in the field. (However, I called the staff meeting much after two three months). There was  self-imposed discipline in the office but I was giving them due pat and recognition for their improved service. Sector-16 was the smallest sector of Chandigarh  They started getting recognition  and respect in the market. Eventually, the number of visiting customers were on the increase and so the business.

Hardly after a week after taking the charge of the branch,  I received a telephone call from Girdhari Lal Mehra, the Staff Assistant Regional Office telling me that I should relieve Dhawan, Accountant for B.O. Sector-17 immediately. On hearing my anger knew no bounds and I flared up and told him bluntly that I was not going to relieve him. He told that Dhawan was extra in my office and there was shortage of Accountants at that Branch. I asked him: did they became conscious that Dhawan was spare in my office after I had taken charge of the office. I told him bluntly that I knew that they were determined to disturb me and destabilise me and told him firmly that they might do whatever they wanted but I was not going to be cowed down and was not going to relieve Dhawan. My out burst was non stop.  When I stopped speaking, there was a soft voice from the other side, ‘I have heard your feelings, Mr. Sethi.  Please relieve Dhawan if possible’. This took me not time to recognise that this voice was of Amar, the Regional Manager. I cooled down and said ‘Sir, I can relieve him only after discussing the matter with you.’ Amar replied I could meet him at 3.00 pm at his residence if I so wanted. I told him that it would be his rest time. He replied, no rest time I could come to see him. (It was Saturday). I went to R.M. residence at the appointed time and he was waiting for me. I told him that I was improving the working of the office and removal of Dhawan would hamper my efforts. After long discussions he then told me that I might relieve Jain, Special Assistant for B.O. Sector-17 as there was paucity of Power of Attorney holders. I told him that removal of any staff from my office would adversely affect the process of the development which I had initiated. As he was residing in that very sector where my branch was he was already aware of positive change in the working of the office and improvement in the service of the customers at the branch. Then he told me, in lieu Jain he would give me DC Suri, (unbridled Special Assistant) from Sector-17.  I told him that if he was determined to disturb me than he might do so. Amar was shrewd administrator. In a way he wanted to kill two birds with one stone. He knew, Suri was incorrigible man and was a great liability in the offices where he was working. Knowing that I was fully aware of his temperament, he wanted to play a big game. Then smilingly, he  told me that he was confident that I was capable to handle him. Now, it was a challenge for me.  I told him, if he so wished he may transfer him to my office. On the coming working day (Monday) I received telephonic call from Girdhari Lal Mehra  in a laughing/taunting tone,  telling me that he had  got relieved  DC Suri for my workshop (branch) and I should relieve Jain.  I told him, no problem, I would welcome Suri and told him that I was relieving Jain for Sector-17. Suri  joined our office forenoon. Suri has earned a bad name for his bad and uncompromising temperament and was mentally unbalanced after the death of his only son.  Prior to his promotion as Special Assistant he was working as steno in the Regional Office and on his promotion he was posted as special Assistant to B.O. Sector-17. He was in the habit of issuing notes/memos to the Managers on flimsy grounds almost daily and The Manger Sector-17 was tired of him. During my stay at B.O. Sector-17 as Assistant Manager  I saw his unbecoming behavior when once he struck work after sending a memo to the Manager that one nail was not properly hammered in his table and it was obstructing the movement of the ledgers. (He was incharge of Draft Payable Seat.) In the memo he wrote to manager that till the table was not got repaired he would not work. When I came to know, I went to Suri with a hammer from the Daftri and fully stoked the nail and asked Suri: was that all ? I told him that he should have told me rather writing to the Manager. He told me that it was not my job and uttered some harsh words about the Manager and said what for Khurana was sitting inside his cabin.

When Suri joined, he came to my cabin to submit his joining report I offered him a seat and asked if he knew why he was transferred to my office. He told me that he knew that the R.M.’s intention was to disturb us both. I further asked him if he would allow him to succeed in his design. He assured me that there would no problem from his side in the office. I counseled him that I wanted that there should be no shouting in the Hall and in case he had any problem or he did not know any work or he did not want to do any work, he would be telling me straight and I would try to find out the solution. I told him that if their plans are such we should not allow them to succeed. He took the challenge seriously.  I took him in the hall and introduced him to the staff and told him to take charge of the Jain’s seat.  There was change in the branch and the customers were respected and were served well. There was one peon, Dayal. He was very active and smart. I assigned him duty of attending all the important customers, especially the retired Defense officers. Whenever any important customers used to enter my cabin or in the hall he was quick to catch him ask him, the work for which he had come and he used to give them the seat and would get his work done from the respective departments.  With assigning of this job, Dayal was also feeling elevated and the VIP customers were satisfied when they used to get their work done while seating in my cabin.

These were the few immediate  steps taken to improve the customer service. Otherwise, by this time I had motivated all most all my colleagues gradually to help the customers and told them that they would be getting extra satisfaction and status in the market which otherwise they couldn’t purchase for any amount. I told them ‘ if  you say ‘No’ to any customer, naturally he will come to me and as a manager of the branch I will  have to get his work done and for that I will be asking you only, to do his work and then you had no option but to do his work. In this way I will be getting the credit where as it is you who had done the work’. I asked them, ‘why this credit should not go to you direct. If I get their work done from you I would getting the credit as Sethi and if you do their job yourself to their satisfaction which otherwise is your duty also you will be getting the credit and our branch will get the credit and as a Manager of the branch I will get the credit automatically.’ This saying gradually worked and the customers were welcomed.

Vinod Prem a clerk also joined me. The boy was submissive and intelligent. I observed that he can handle the customers extremely well if he was motivated. later I called him and told him: ‘it is very easy to learn the bank routine but the most difficult task is to learn the handling of the difficult and especially the bad tampered customers and if you can learn that art  you will be most successful’  and I told him that I wanted to assign this job to him in addition to his regular duties. (Otherwise his seat was preparation of  statements and loans). I was proud that he successfully handled the most difficult customers with exemplary patience. Now my routine was to supervise the morning arrangements of the office to ensure that the costumers would be properly attended and after that I normally used to leave the office around 11 O’clock in the morning in the field to meet the people and the institutions to tape the business for the branch and number of times I used to visit the Regional Office also to sort out the issues pertaining to my office. In the Regional Office it was not that I used to meet the Regional Manager  only but  I would try to see almost all the staff working in the Regional office irrespective of their ranks. With the result I was getting abundant of co-operation from that office. Before going to the field I had a list where to go and whom to meet. Around 1 O’clock I used to return to my office and would brief the concerned officials of the branch to tell whom I had met on the day and what talk I had with them. In my absence when any  customer to whom  I had met used to come to the office he would not feel my absence as the concerned staff already knew the background  and his work was taken up quickly. Most of my field work was for increasing the Loan portfolio and deposits which started giving good results. Our branch was located in the smallest residential Sector of Chandigarh. Population of the Sector was small. The industries were either in the Industrial Area or Panchkula or Mohali where there were our own branches besides many other banks. I was fortunate to form a good team of willing workers in my office besides getting the co-operation of the individual members of the staff of the Regional Office. For processing the Loan proposals, the staff at the Regional Office was readily available to me and we tried to sanction or get sanction of the loan proposal within a record time. The movement of our files in the Regional Office too was very fast as I used to discuss every thing with the concerned staff in the Regional Office personally. They were guide to me and many to them used to do help in preparing the proposal at my branch before or after their duties hours . The Regional Manager,  VP Amar who was once hostile to me was the most helping boss. I used to get the staff of my choice and in anticipation of submission of staff Strength Proposal even.  If I say my fast development in the branch was due to timely and quantitative help from Amar (Later from Amarjit Singh) it would not be exaggeration.

I joined this branch as Officer In- charge and I was promoted as ‘B’ grade, ‘A’ grade and immediately on my transfer to B.O. Phagwara to ‘AA’ also. The branch working also warranted for the upgrading of the branch to my status all due to the Regional Manager, its office staff and my own dedicated team. I was known as Sethi of Sector-16 even after my transfer from that branch. I made sitting arrangement of the Supervisory staff just behind their respective clerks so that the clerks could pass on the register or ledger to the in-charge without involving the services of the peons. I ensured that  none of my staff should feel un-comfortable; rather they could enjoy the working and service to the customers with pleasure. There was family like discipline in the office which was self imposed.  On the main glass door at the entrance I got it painted “Rates are the same. Just step in and see the difference.” In my cabin I displayed the good teak board with spirit polished on the wall just behind me and  which could be catch the eyes of the comers in my cabin and gave a slogan to my staff  “Strive for Excellence individually and collectively”. I put a collection box just between the grill gate and the main gate to facilitate the customers to put their Cheques over night for collection after closing of the office till opening of the office next day but very few customers availed this facility. As it was un common those days. Ultimately after a few months I withdrew the box. Otherwise my branch used to receive the cheques for collection till  the office was not closed. The receipt for such late received cheques was given with a stamped ‘Late for to-day’s clearing. would be dealt on next working day’. I was the first to start the evening counter in Chandigarh to the existing customers for Saving Fund for withdrawals and deposits. Though it worked well but there were very limited customers who were taking the benefit this facility due to lack of publicity. For borrowers I used to tell the loan in-charge to call the borrower in the office and discuss the discrepancy across the table and advise them to bring the required documents in one lot to minimise the delay in disposal of their Loan Proposal. The proposals which were under Regional Manager’s power I used to discuss the proposal with the Loan assistant and used to get the discrepancies removed personally. The Postal correspondence was minimised.

Once, Head Office sent Publicity Van with projector to the Regional Office to show the banks Schemes. There was no taker for it in Chandigarh branches but I utilised this opportunity and arranged two shows at village Dadu Majara with the help of the Regional Office staff. We gave good publicity in the village before we were to show the Bank’s documentary film in a respectable gathering, which was necessary to have the maximum impact on the villagers as I was expecting that the farmers were to get handsome compensation from the Government against the acquisition of their lands. I kept regular liaison in the village. Many of my staff members and staff of the regional office particularly related to publicity and Agriculture were very active in this campaign. I myself remained there through out the campaign. We got the fruit of our labour and my office got the lion share from the compensation. My spade work in the surrounding villages later helped the bank to open the branches in Palsora, Dadu Majara and Khuda Lahora. I was very aggressive in marketing with complete involvement of my staff. I was ensuring that my staff should not feel uncomfortable even they had to work more and some times beyond their duty hours. I had no power to give them any monetary incentives in any shape either in form of overtime and conveyance but I gave them feeling that they were very important in the development of the branch which had earned a unique name in Chandigarh and they were proud to be member of the Sector-16 Staff branch. On my part I used to share their joy and grief and used to visit their houses occasionally. If there was any problem or function at their home I used to visit them invariably. If there was rain or my staff was late in the office and there was no means of transportation with them I used to drop them at their residence especially to the lady staff.

Ours was a complete contented family with home like discipline in the office. In Sector-15 there was a Rehari Market.  I decided to finance them under deferential rate of interest (4%). I organised a function in the Bank premises in 1976 which was presided by the most power full Director of the Bank Dr. AS Kalhon, besides the Regional Manager VP Amar, managers of the different branches were also present. Sanction letters of  Loan were distributed by Dr. Kalhon. This was the first mass loaning function of the branch rather that of  Chandigarh.

Recovery of the loan was satisfactory in the beginning was good but it started dropping down. I had to send my peon Om Parkash to collect the monthly installments every month. A few were responding but most of them were avoiding. Ultimately, all the borrowers stopped making payments. I was compensating Om Parkash with conveyance allowance for his extra job when ever I used to send him for the purpose.  When the loan installments completely stopped I decided to go to the loanees myself. I inquired from Om Parkash who was their ring leader and who were the most notorious persons and were instigating others not to make payment of the installments. I took note of this and went for further planning. One Saturday after the office hours. I took one Accountant, one Cashier, one loan Clerk, one peon Om Parkash and Guard Piara Singh. A few of us sat in the car and rest followed us on one Scooter. I asked the staff to take some blank papers and pay-in-slips for deposit of cash. The Rehri Market’ was croweded with the customers as it was evening. I followed by my staff, first  encountered  the President, the most powerful man in the Rehri market. While he was busy with the customers I roared at him, “What do you think of your self, is the Bank money was your father’s money and not paying the installments”? I again shouted ‘Piara Singh take all his material from the Rehri and put them in the Car.” My shouting was so  sudden and unexpected that  he got confused. Leaving his customers he stood up with folded hands and began to request me that he would deposit the installment on  the coming Monday. I again shouted,’ why Monday? No Piara Singh, take the material.  Hearing me shouting there was complete lull in the market. All the customers and ‘Reheriwalas’ struck their work and were observing what was happening there. He was so much demoralised that he virtually touched my feet in presence of his customers and other Reheriwalas. None of his fellow came to his rescue. This pressure was enough. ‘Alright how much money now you have.’ I asked.  He took out a few hundred rupees from his cash box and I told the Cashier to take the money and gave him the receipt. Further I asked him to give an undertaking that he would be depositing the balance on the coming Monday and would be regular in paying the installments. The drama was successful. We then went to the other Reheris one by one. They were already ready to hand over the money they had and to give undertakings.We were happy that our drama was successful but when we reached the last Rehari which was of grocery. Here we repeated the same tactic but were stunned when the old man, the owner of the Rehar responded angrily and told us we could take his material. Suddenly, I  found, I was trapped. I knew my limitations. Legally we could not take the possession of the hypothicated goods, secondly if illegally we had taken the goods, where we were to keep them and the thirdly he could charge us in the court that we had taken more goods and/or had taken better quality of goods. In this tough situations alertness and presence of mind was very essential and further quick steps were required. If we had taken the possession of the goods we would have been trapped and if leave this man un-touched we would have lost what we had gained so far. We would have lost our image and also our created authority over them. The situation was grim. When our guard touched his ‘reheri’ he stumbled against the old man. Here I shouted at my guard, ‘Piara Singh! Don’t take the goods first take the old man to the police station. How dared he pushed and obstructed the Government officials to do their duty. ’When Piara Singh tried to take hold of the old man his men and other persons came to his rescue and bagged that we should not take him to the police station. ‘We feel sorry for his behavior’ they said and requested us that he be excused. The old man also begged to be excused and gave some money and undertaking also. We had a sigh of relief after this and were happy to have been saved of humiliation.

One more grand mass loaning function was organised in Sweeper Colony in Sector-25 in 1976 to give loan to the Harijans and Depressed Classes particularly to the Sweeper’s families to supplement their income. I contacted Amolak Singh the Manager of the Singer Sewing machine and he readily agreed to offer Sewing machines at concession rates after taking permission from the Company on telephone. It was a very big mass loaning function. This type of function was a new in Chandigarh.  Chairman TR Tuli came to preside over the function and TN Chartarvdi, the Chief Commissioner (later Home Secretary Government of India) was the Chief Guest. National and Regional media gave full coverage to this function. Besides the Chairman,  Mathuria, the chief of the priority Sector also came. Almost all the News papers gave good coverage to the function.In 1978 Morar ji Desai, the Prime Minister was to come Chandigarh. All the banks decided to organise the Mass Loaning function at village Dadu Majara. Dadu Majara was in my command area and I already had financing in this village and was having good deposits from the village. It was natural, my authorities expected me to take lead to finance on behalf of our Bank. Moreover, our Bank was the Lead Bank of Chandigarh and much was expected from our Bank. The Regional Office gave the maximum support by providing me the Agriculture officer for processing the cases. The function was a great success more so when it was presided over by the Prime Minister. Again in 1979 one more mass loaning function at village Khuda Lahora was organized for Dairy Farming by my branch. This function too was presided over by the Bank’s Chairman OP Gupta and the Chief Guest was Malick Deputy Commissioner, Chandigarh. The National and Regional New Paper gave a good coverage to this function also. As the milkmen used to leave their dairies early in the morning, the function had to be arranged at 7.30 a.m. My all the staff members including the lady staff and subordinate staff was present at the function as it was organised before the banking hours.

In the evening there was staff meeting in the branch presided by the Chairman OP Gupta. All the staff members attended this meeting also. Besides the Chairman, Zonal Manager and the Regional Manager, General Manager, Bansal were  also present. The staff of the Regional Office, especially Dr. SC Anand and Shukla  were among the  technical staff who were instrument in this achievement. There after there was Managers’ meeting of the Region at the  Zonal Training Center  In the meeting the Chairman complemented me and members for my staff  for attending both morning and evening functions. It is necessary to mention that a few days earlier a Manager’s meeting was called by Amarjit Singh, the Regional Manager and Managers were asked to arrange for Mass loaning function and Staff meeting to be presided over by the Chairman on his forth coming visit. When all the Managers remained silent, I was asked by Amarjit, if I could arrange for the Mass loaning function.  I readily agreed and then Khurana, the Manager B.O. Sector-17 was asked to arrange the Staff meeting in his branch in the evening  and to which Khurana agreed. A day before the Chairman’s visit in the evening when my staff was to leave the office I received telephone from the Regional Manager that Khurana had shown his inability to arrange the staff meeting and he asked me if I could arrange the staff meeting also in the evening at my branch. I told I would arrange for the meeting but I should have been told during the office hours so that I could sound my staff members for the staff meeting also. Members of my staff were  required to be present early morning at 7.30 a.m. for the Mass Loaning function in the village and again they would have to sit late to attend the Chairman’s meeting after banking hours and it would have been very tiring for them. However, It was against my temperament to say no, as I had full faith on members of my staff that they would accept the challenge.  I send the message to the members of staff who were to come for the mass loaning function at Khuda Lohara in the morning, be remain for Chairman’s meeting in the evening after the banking hours also. During the day Gupta also visited Kalima Chemical at Pinjore a unit financed by my branch.

Vijay Khosla S/o RK Khosla a tall union leader, was working in my office as I told earlier. He was a changed man now. He was on Day Book Seat. He used to sit late even, to finish the work. Some times he would do the work which he was supposed to be  done on the coming day. Some times he would prepare the Weekly Statement of Affair on the Saturday it self after writing the Day Book of Friday. Occasionally, he was late for going to home and I used to receive a call from his father telling me that Vijay had not reached home. As usual he had an apprehension that he might be lying some where after drinking. He could not believe when I used to tell him that he was still working in the branch. In fact his father was fed up with him and wanted that I should get him transferred from Chandigarh to Jammu where his in-laws were as he was nuisance to family. Before my joining this office he already had applied for his transfer for Jammu and through his influence Khosla was trying to get his transfer orders expedited. On number of occasions he  told me that I should relieve him as soon his orders for transfer were received but I used to tell him, ‘don’t allow him to go and I have every hope that he will  find Vijay as a changed man . I asked him to give me two, three months and he would see the difference’. Though he felt some  change in him after my joining this office but he was determined to see that he should go from Chandigarh. Ultimately, the transfer orders of Vijay reached my office and Khosla requested me for his relieving but I told him that I would not relieve him and assured him if the change was not to his satisfaction after three months I would relieve him immediately. As such I did not relieve him even after I received his transfer orders. He was working well; he was behaving well in the office. But once, I was away to H.O. Delhi on some official work; Khosla got him relieved from DN Dhawan, Accountant who was officiating in my place.

DC Suri, Special Assistant who was transferred to my office with some ulterior motive to disturb me as already told but he was tamed man now and was working silently and I used to enquire about his well being occasionally. There was no denying he had to work more in this office as compared to his previous office but he could not get an opportunity to burst here which used to be part of his daily routine earlier. He could not get any occasion for his natural violent emotions. This natural emotion might have been suppressed in the new environment or he might be feeling uneasy mentally inwardly but he never gave vent to these emotions any time. Once. I was away to H.O. Delhi on some official work. In my absence while working on Draft Issue seat one the Demand Draft issued for realisation of Bill was misplaced.  He became mentally so upset that he declared that he couldn’t work as a Special Assistant (Supervisor) though the Draft was traced after some times. Dhawn our Accountant and other members of staff who were present assured him that happening was very minor in nature and he should not loose his heart but he lost his confidence and proceeded on leave. When I came back, I was told about the incidence. I told Dhawan that he should have been given him the moral booster. Dhawn told me that all his efforts had failed to boost him. The day after, I returned his son-in-law came to me with an application for his reversion and requested me to help him to get him reverted as steno as he had lost his self confidence and was mentally very much disturbed. I tried to make his son-in-law understand that was a very minor incident and he should not have taken that so seriously. I told him that he should join the office without fear and I would take care of him and would see that he was comfortable in the office but his son-in-law told me that after the death of his son he had become mentally sick and if he did not get the reversion at the earliest his condition would deteriorate. He requested me to save him and get him reverted at all cost. I understood the gravity his seriousness. I told him that I would try but before that I would like to see him personally at his residence and would try to convenience him. Next day I went to his house but all my persuasions failed, instead he hysterically asked my help to get him reverted. In the evening I met the Regional Manager,  VP Amar at his residence and requested him for his reversion while narrating the whole incidence and my failure to repose confidence in him. As Suri was quarrelsome and had very bad record where ever he had worked, The Regional Manger agreed to revert him as a clerk but not as a Steno. I knew to work as clerk was not possible for him as he had never worked as clerk and it would have worst effect on him mentally. I requested Amar to consider his case as favour to me. Ultimately Amar agreed for his reversion as steno and was allowed to join Regional Office as Steno after recouping.

I had a Rajdoot motor-cycle. The Fait Car was openly available in the market now.  Earlier it was booked and its delivery was given after two to three years.  The bank issued circular that the officers could purchased the cars free of interest at 10% margin in big cities. One day, my Regional Manager,  Amar came to my office and told me: ‘I want that all his managers in Chandigarh should have Cars’. The cost of the Car was Rs.32,197.20 p and the bank was to finance Rs.29000/-and I was supposed to put Rs.3000/- I told him that I did not had the margin money. Initially he was astonished to know that I did not have this much of money. He then told me that he would arrange for the margin also and I was required to pay Rs.400/- per month as an instatement only. I also posed a problem that I would not be able to afford Rs.400/- every month. He told me that he would sanction car maintenance allowance also which would compensate me to the great extend and besides I would be paid the traveling allowance also on mileage basis if I had to go out station on bank business. The cost of Petrol was much cheap. I think it was about Rs.3/- per liter. He told me to submit letter of request to his office with in two three days by all means. There was discussion in my family on the issue and most of my family members were not in favour of purchasing the Car, because of the financial crunch. But after looking all the aspects, enhancement of the status and the Regional Manager’s desire I submitted my letter of request to the Regional Office after three days and decided to sell my Rajdot motor Cycle. Next to the Bank Building, there was Cycle Shop. Bawa,  the owner came to know that I had a mind to sell the Motor Cycle, he immediately came to me and showed his inclination to purchase my Motor Cycle and offered Rs.3000/-. I immediately accepted his offer as after driving the Motor Cycle for more that three year which I had purchased for Rs.3500/- the offer seemed to me was reasonable. But had I margin  money I would not have sold the Motor Cycle as I could use it as the main mode of my conveyance and Car for the occasional use and  could have saved some petrol expenses but I had no option. Ultimately, I purchased the Fait Car (Padmni) for Rs.32197.20 p from Delhi Motors, Chandigarh. Ashok Sethi an insurance agent who was regular visitor  to our office helped me in the purchasing the Car and to got all the formalities of Insurance and Registration completed. The number I got was CH-6211. He got me a driver  named Krishan lal for Rs.300/- to train me before banking hours. At least for one hour daily he used to give me training on Aroma-Mohali Road. It took me about two months to learn the driving. There were not much traffic on Chandigarh roads those days. Dhawan’s (my accountant) brother-in-law was D.S.P. at Chandigarh. He called him to my office and filled the form in my Cabin and brought me the Driving License after three four days. After purchasing the car we went to Mansa Devi to seek the Divine’s blessing and then instead of taking our car,we first took the car to Sector-11 where my father’s cousin’s family, Kaushalia Kohli w/o Late Roshan Lal Kohli was residing to seek the elder’s blessings.

Now, as the cheaper conveyance, motor bike, was not available the car was used as the sole conveyance.  Naturally it affected my pocket. There is no denying the use of car enhanced my social status and helped me to procure more business for the Bank. Once, I took my car to Mansa Devi in the fair. I had learnt to drive on the wide roads of Chandigarh only and had never experienced slow driving  in the crowd. Though I took out the car from the crowd with great difficulty but I was completely prospering and my heart was beating fast in nervousness.

Once, we decided to go Kulu and Manali on own car. I could not arrange for the services of any driver. I had never driven on hilly track where there were steep ascending and descending roads with blind curves. One mechanic friend advised me to take courage and drive the car myself slowly and cautiously with the help of my son Rakesh and in this way I would be able to learn driving in the hilly track also.  Rakesh was the eldest male member in my family but he refused to accompany us despite of fact every member of the family was going. Despite my repeatedly telling him  he was not prepared to go. Ultimately, when I told him angrily that he should at least accompany us on the onward journey and on reaching Manali I would send him back immediately. Reluctantly, he agreed. There might not be shortage of Petrol in the way we loaded a full cane of Petrol on the carrier and put two three heavy stones near the doors of the car and advised Rakesh, Rekha and Renu to sit near the doors and advised them as soon as the car stops while ascending they should immediately get down and put the stones on the back of wheels so that the car may not role back. I remained very nervous and over cautious while driving on the steep roads and was not allowing any body to speak in the car. I was using second gear in place of third gear and third gear in place of fourth gear through out the journey and the blowing the horn  to the maximum in the way in nervousness. I had a sigh of relief when we reached our destination ‘Bhunter’ (Air Port of Kulu) in the evening where our friend Inderjit Ahuja was living and we were to stay with him. Inderjit belonged to Yamuna Nagar and was working in Central Bank of India.

From here we used to go Manali, Kulu, Manikarn and other places and in the evening we used to come back to Bhunter. Our stay here was for about one week. Immediately on reaching Bhunter I asked Rakesh that I could drop him at the bus stand to go-back  Chandigarh but by this time he had reconciled and decided to remain with us. We got the opportunity  to see the Kulu Dusehra which is celebrated about 10 days after the Dusehra which is celebrated in the north. On Dusehra ‘bali‘ (sacrifice) of live animals are made.

Dilar Singh a militant type clerk at B.O. Sector-17. After my joining B.O. Sector-16 he requested me to get him transferred to my office. The militant type of employees were considered nuisance and trouble creators in their offices and every manager used to avoid them, but my thinking was quite different. I used to feel that these people who are bold and capable to create nuisance have more potential to work and if their energies can be chanalised and they can give more output and would be ready to do all those work which normal employee cannot do. In Sector-17 also I took maximum work from this category of employees. At his request I got him transferred to my office. Whatever work was given to him he was doing gladly over and above his normal duties and was respectful also. He was allotted Draft Issue, Draft payable and Clearing Seat.

The Balances of the branch were not tallied for the last many years especially of the Draft Payable since 1974. I cannot recall what exactly happened but one day certain actions of Delar Singh were found suspicious and he was put under scanning and he too became conscious of it. We felt some thing wrong had been done in the draft payable as he was sitting on this seat.  I put special team for tallying the draft payable balances while sitting late in the evening. I had good equation with the workman staff of the different branches also. One or two persons from different offices also used to come after working in their respective branches. RP Kakkar, Manager B.O. Sector-22 was nice enough to send his clerk, Subhash Gupta to assist us.  I took my Regional Manager VP Amar in confidence and told him about the seriousness of the un-tallied draft payable balances and suspicious role of Daler Singh and he also gave me a helping hand.  One day I went Yamuna Nagar on some personal work and told my friend Niranjan Das Gomber who was clerk there. At my request he took leave from his office and reeached Chandigarh to help me in tallying the balances unofficially. During the day he used to do some miscellaneous work and collect the record for telling the balances. At night after dinner he used to sit late to tally the balances all alone in the drawing room and my son Rakesh used to give him company and used to sleep with him in the drawing room but he never allowed me to sit there.  Subsequently, when I told  Amar that I have brought Gomber  from Yamuna Nagar to tally my draft payable balances after taking leave from his branch Amar officially called him to Chandigarh to tally the balances of the branch for a week.

One day when we were tallying the draft payable balances late at night in the office and Daler Singh was on leave. Om Parkash, peon was retrained  for help. When Om Parkash  just went out side the office  he found Delar Singh was standing near the Bank.  On seeing Om Parkash he inquired from him whether Draft issue balances  had been tallied. Om Parkash told him that they were tallying draft payable balances. When Om Parkash came in the branch he told me that Daler Singh was standing out side and he had asked him if the Draft Issue balances had been tallied. Immediately it struck me  that there was some thing wrong in the draft issue as there was no procedure of tallying the Draft Issue balances as all these inter branch entries were reconciled at the Head Office. The following day I took one of my staff members, Vinod Prem  into confidence and asked for his  help  in reconciling the draft issue entries with the vouchers and draft issued counter foils and  requested him to come to my residence after dinner and  advised him to keep this matter secret.  In the after noon without disclosing the purpose I told daftri that the draft issue counter foils, draft issue registers and vouchers for two three months be left at my residence after office hour. My residence was on the first floor of the office itself and record room was on the second floor. I asked the record from the Daftri in piece meal so that he could not smell the purpose for which I had asked the record.  The operation was kept so secret that  none in the office could know it.  As usual the staff was tallying the draft payable balances during the working hours and this job of verifying the draft issue counter foils with the vouchers was  to be done by me with the help of Vinod Prem late at night.

While reconciling, we found that one draft for a few hundred rupees and other for a few thousand rupees were issued on Kalka branch without any voucher. Next day, I brought the matter to the notice of the Regional Manager and enquired about these two drafts from Kalka branch on telephone in confidence . The Manager immediately told me that payment of these two drafts were taken by our Delar Singh who came to his office with one young lady on two different occasions a few days earlier. I told the branch Manager that he should wait for me in the branch after the office hours with the record and told him that it should be kept secret. I went to Kalka branch along with my confident man . The drafts paid by the branch were kept ready for my verification.  Delar Singh issued these drafts in favour of his sister-in-law (wife’s sister) and went with her to take the payment and a local employee of the branch (Mohinder Singh) verified her signatures. We ensured that the matter should not  be leaked  out to either of the branches. The matter was discussed with the Regional Manager at his residence after coming from Kalka and then with the help of RN Narula, Bank’s  Senior  advocate F.I.R. was lodged with the police station Sector-17 and it was also ensured that no body should know before the police  come to the office early  next morning to arrest Delar Singh. The next morning when the Police came to the branch the staff was busy in the half-yearly closing work and I was sitting in my cabin and they dramatically arrested Delar Singh from the Banking Hall and took him away. The members of the staff were stunned to see this sudden development.  Certain staff members rushed to me in shock and asked me  how the police could arrest Delar Singh from the bank without my permission.  I disclosed them that he was arrested with my consent and disclosed how Delar Singh had committed the fraud. All the members of our staff were stunned to know it.

Daler Singh obtained bail after a few days and absconded. Pritam Singh ASI of crime branch was assigned with the job of investigation. I tried to give all the assistance he needed. He used to address me as Sir, but suddenly some times, his tone was changed and he used to tell me how Delar Singh could commit a fraud without connivance of the Manager. His frequent hot and cold blowing was very disturbing but I used to keep my balance and tried to explain the procedures. I often used to visit his office to know the progress.  As police  was unable to trace Daler Singh the ASI Pritam Singh proposed to visit all the possible  places of his hiding, like Ambala, Mehala Wali and Delhi and he asked me to accompany him. I discussed the matter with the Regional Manager and he suggested that I should accompany him in my own car. Normally no manager indulges in such activism but used to keep himself to paper work but I decided to accompany him to all the places he desired while driving my  car. At Ambala Baldev Nagar we went to his elder brother‘s house, to Mehala Wali (now in Yamuna Nagar District)  his native village and New Delhi to his in-law’s house and at Delhi Air port where his father-in-law was working but we failed to trace him. At Delhi while we were staying in Dharmshala at Fathe Puri in the morning  and were to set out I hit my car against the stationery bus and broke left- front door and head light of my car.  Instead of putting my foot on brake I put my foot on the accelerator. Late at night we were returning to Chandigarh from Delhi  The sleep was overpowering me suddenly I found my self  sleepy and was just to hit the Bull Cart after crossing Karnal but  we had an hair escape when  suddenly, I applied brakes to the car which had just touch the cart. Somehow we reached Chandigarh after midnight with great difficulty.

Later Daler Singh  was arrested and I was called at the Police Station. He was hand cuffed.  On seeing me at the Police Station he flared up and tried to push the constables who were holding him and tried to run to me shouting ‘O, Sethi! I will kill you and your family’. The policemen tighten him but I told him calmly ‘Delar! if I am to die in your hand no body can save me but if my death is otherwise you cannot harm me. You are suffering because of your own deeds.’ Daler’s brother and father-in-law got him surrendered before the police and applied for the bail to Punjab & Haryana High Cour, Chandigarh. Delar, his brother and father-in-law were waiting out side the Court room when I reached there. On seeing me Delar again ran toward me shouting once again  the same wording.  he was not hand cuffed , but his brother was strong  enough he bounced upon him  and pushed him back and came to me and begged pardon, telling that he was  mad and they were sorry for his behavior. I told them there was nothing un-natural in his behavior and let him say if it can soothe his emotions. I was doing my duty and I did not mind his provocative behavior and utterances. Delar could not get the bail after he surrendered to the Police and I left the court immediately before the police took Daler in custody. However, subsequently Daler could get the bail when the trial started against him and his sister-in-law who took the money of the drafts.

It was Sunday, suddenly Daler’s father-in-law came to me at my residence at Sector-15. He told me that he had come to make a request if I allow him. I took him to my drawing room and gave him full respect without taking into account what Delar had done or how he behaved with me. He regretted for what Delar had done to me and to the Bank. He told me that his younger daughter who had been involved by  Delar was of marriageable age and her life would be ruined in litigation with no fault of her and she was innocent.  He admitted that Daler had made the  drafts fraudulently in her favour without taking  her into confidence and she was told simply that he was to receive some money from his friend and because of Income tax reasons he had asked his friend to send the draft in her name. He begged that I should take mercy on her and take the case back for the sake of her marriageable daughter and he would pay the entire amount and would also indemnify  the bank against any other amount detected later. He told me that from his side he had verified that that was his first attempt and no other money was involved except the amount to those two drafts. He told me that Daler would come to me and apologies for his misdeeds and tender his resignation and I should take mercy for the sake of her innocent young daughter and forgave Daler and get his resignation accepted. I told him that I can forget and forgive his misbehavior toward me but I cannot take the case take back, as the case was now ‘Delar Singh verses State’ and Bank cannot do any thing. He told me that the Deputy Commissioner had the power to compound the case if we don’t object to it and he had already talked to the Deputy Commissioner and it was only I who could help him and save her young innocent daughter. He was pleading for mercy and was trying to influence me emotionally by telling me to consider her my own daughter and he wept. Ultimately, I told him that I don’t promise but assured him that I would talk to my authorities as I was not aware of the legal complications. More so if any other fraud was deducted after we accepted his resignation the bank would not spare me. He told me that he would be indemnifying it to the any amount bank wanted.

In the mean while he gave signal to Daler who with in no time he was before me. Immediately after  entering my Drawing Room and he removed his turban from his head and put it on me feet and wept bitterly while apologising for his misbehavior and misdeeds.  I told him to get up and further told him that I had no ill will about his misbehavior to me but told him that he had shaken my faith on the friends on whom I always had confidence. They left when I told them that I would discuss the matter with the Zonal Manager. Next day I met  Nakara, my Zonal Manager and narrated the whole story.  Nakara was a regal man before joining the bank he was Chief Law officer in the State Trading Corporation. When  PL Tandon joined our bank as Chairman from the State Trading Corporation he brought Nakara also. Nakara too had the same apprehensions if any more fraud was detected after recovering the present amount  and after accepting his resignation. Ultimately he agreed to meet his father in-law. When he met Nakara accepted the Guarantee Bond and  Daler’s resignation and allowed them to get the case be withdrawn by the Deputy Commissioner but told them that the bank would not give any thing in writing  but at the same time he would not object the withdrawal of the case by the Government. All this was agreed to save innocent young daughter of a gentleman without jeopardising the Bank interest but it was  procedural wrong that I was  not involved at any stage, neither in the talks nor in the decision taking. Even a formal letter or recommendation was never taken from me though it was I, through whom the police action was initiated. Though Delar never met me again but he conveyed  his regrets and gratefulness for the help through one  known person.

The progress of the branch was in leap and bound. My branch won Reward for good work for the year 1976 and best branch award for the year 1978 and I was presented Phillips Record player by the Zonal Manager, HC Nakara at a function organised at my branch and in another function I was facilitated by the Chairman  OP Gupta. During the remaining years of my stay in the branch I  got incentives for good performances for all years as per norms of the Head Office.  The branch had a name in the Region and in the Head Office and due recognition was given to me . There was no member of the staff who was not satisfied, with one exception of Vijay Goel who otherwise was a very good worker.  I had to put some checks on him for his undesirable alienation with one lady staff. The lady staff was got transferred to some other branch and he was feeling dejected after her transfer. Once letters of appreciation were given to the entire staff member for good work but he returned the letter in frustrations

The feeling of fellowship  among the members the staff was unique. Some times we used to go for outing on Saturdays after the banking hours. One Saturday,  when we were on outing in Rose Garden after the banking hours and refreshment was arranged.  VP Amar, the Regional Manager accompanied with  SN Gupta, Chief Staff (H.O.) were strolling on way to Amar’s house, suddenly they saw our team sitting in the garden and  were surprised to see this fellowship. Both of them joined us and enjoyed our company and  Gupta told the staff that this type of the get-together and fellowship is rare of the rarest and he desired a group photograph with our staff members which were arranged immediately. Chief of the Staff was the highest position in the Staff Department at the H.O. in those days. There was no member of staff who was not feeling proud to be member of the branch where every one was equal and equally important except that the nature of their duties were different.

During my tenure there had been two Inspections of the Branch, one in 1978 and the other in 1980. After my joining the branch business started expending in geometrical progression.  There was substantial all round increase in the business.  SD Puri who inspected the branch in 1978 gave exceptionally rare remarks about the progress and discipline and further scope of the business in the branch. He commented:  “Shri Y.P. Sethi the present Incumbent took over the branch on 11.3.76 and inherited ocean of problems e.g. poor staff relations, poor customer service, back log of routine and balances, particularly the balances of Draft payable were not tallied since 1974. Branch growth too was not satisfactory. This did not dis-hearten Mr. Sethi, and he took objective view of the situation and was awarded according (……comparative figures…..). This tremendous growth could not be possible without total involvement of the staff and leadership provided by the Incumbent. The branch which was one of the problem office in Chandigarh has been converted to business oriented, better customers service and better staff relations. With ability to organise, coordinate, direct and evaluate the activities of others the atmosphere of the Branch has altogether changed. Customers are welcomed by the staff. They are well treated, feel comfortable and contended. With Administrative ability, persuasive and counseling skills of the Incumbent, the Branch is ready to leap forward in Deposit and Advances both. “The command area is predominantly a residential one, consisting of about 100% Residential Bungalow   Flats. This is considered to be one of the smallest Sectors in Chandigarh. There is a small Govt. Model School and General Hospital. It is not only the tapping of deposits from the residents but to profit from their acquaintances, business contacts and official links: Depends how much social mixing qualities one has  PNB is very well known  in the locality and has a good image. “In the search for deposits and place for helping the small people the present Incumbent has provided finances to about 83 house wives, 13 petty shopkeepers, 18 Rehriwalas. There is no Small Scale Industry in the area but the Incumbent has penetrated into Panchukla, Mohali and New Industrial complex where he has made scattered advances. He is still exerting to tap more industries in these complexes . In order to have a time to time . He has also made some dairy and poultry advances in surrounding villages, Dadu Magara, Maloya and Khoda Lohara. He has tapped the deposit of Rs.25 lacs from these villages. In this activity he had the support and good wishes of the whole staff.  Mr. Kasturi Lal Malhotra and Shri Om Parkash (Staff members) have played a major role and their services have already been appreciated by higher authorities. Side by side the Incumbent has also given some loan for Dairies Farming and poultry. There is ample scope for financing dairies, weavers, house wives in all the 3 villages but for want of close follow up and little staff at his disposal he is not in a position to grape the opportunity. I have studied the situation and i am of the opinion that we have a person with ambitions, drive and initiative, possessing enterprising qualities and inner desire to  identify his own ambition with organisation goals. We should tap his potentials by opening a Priority Sector Cell in the Branch……manned by an independent Manager Priory Sector cell under the close supervision and guidance of Mr. Sethi………….”“The Branch has sent a staff revision proposal………This what they have asked for after tapping the business and I am of the view not only the staff asked for to be provided immediately but the Regional Manager office should remain in constant touch with the Branch Manager and help him by providing staff from time to time  so that growth and efficiency of the branch is not hampered”.

When Puri started the inspection of the branch he put us on our nerves in the first week. One day in the morning when he was to start his work he began to shout in my presence that branch was in a bad shape and nothing was available in the branch. Incidentally LS Saini .Assistant Manager Regional Office along with Bhim Singh Agriculture Officer just stopped at the branch on way to his office .  Saini felt offended. He asked Puri what was wrong here and told him that every thing was transparent. Saini was so hurt over his remarks  that he immediately gave his leave application to Bhim Singh and sat down before Puri and asked him what was wrong and what was not available to him was. He told him that he had taken leave from his office and would give him all the documents and books  and would satisfy him. Saini satisfied Puri with the assistance of Vinod Prem (Loan Clerk) and remained in the branch through out the day.  In the evening Puri was quite normal and onward he never complaint during his inspection. Prem was our loan clerk and was attached to Puri to assist him.

When we received the report, it was a pleasant surprise. He gave unique and very liberal remarks which were neither expected nor were given by any inspector to my knowledge. Saini was residing in Sector-15 and had been working in my office as Accountant before he was transferred to Regional Manger office and he usually used to visit my office before going to the Regional Office in routine as my office was on his way to Regional Office. He was not very aggressive  otherwise but was very sensitive and silent worker and knew the job thoroughly and used to do his work systematically. With the expansion in the business I was getting the matching promotions also and the branch too was upgraded to my status. There were interviews for ‘B’ grade Managers (scale II now) at Head Office but I did not receive the interview letter. I was a little upset. I immediately took up the matter with the Head Office and the Regional office. Just a day before the interview I received a telegram for the Head Office to appear for the interview next day morning at 7.30 a.m. After receiving the telegram, I was more perturbed as I had not prepared for the inter view. So far, I was just anxious for inclusion of my name in the interview list. There were various schemes in Loan, especially in Priority Sector and there were numerous circulars issued by the Head Office. Though I was doing practically everything but I found my self blank if I was to reply on any scheme in the interview. This was my first interview at the Head Office and was to going to Head Office for the first time. First thing I did was that I sent one of my colleagues to get a ticket for Delhi as I feared I might not get the seat as the time was short.  Then I requested NN Sachdeva, the Cashier In –charge of my office to prepare a file of the important current circular for me so that I might go through them while traveling in the bus. Sachdeva was keeping diary of the important Circulars. I was getting more confused when I was doing introspection of my knowledge about the latest schemes and feared imminent humiliation in the interview. The Bus for Delhi was to leave at 4.00 pm., and the time was very short.

I reached the Bus Stand well in time and occupied my seat and took out the Circular file to go through it. My eyes were on the circular but the mind was not sticking to it. The more I stretched my mind the more it was revolting. I was getting nervous every moment. In this mental tussle I reached Delhi late at night. My mind could not catch a single word of any circular. In Delhi, I normally used to stay with my Massi Ram Piari when ever I used to go there. This time I decided to go to my sister Kamla’s house as I thought I would be able to go through the circular as there would be least disturbance.  Late at night I reached my sister’s house and after taking meals and customary talk it was about 12 at night. I told Ram Parkash, my brother-in-law to awake me early at 4.00 in the morning as he used to wake up very early in the morning around 3.00 . I went to my bed but I could not sleep that night for a single minute and my mind was wandering toward morning  interview. More I was becoming conscious of the interview more I feared humiliation. The worst, I was feeling humiliated while thinking that how my staff would take if I am not selected. In the morning at 4 O’clock my brother-in-law asked me if I would like to get up. I told him what to get up; I could not sleep whole night. I told him that I would try to sleep now. I tried my best to sleep till 6.00 O’clock so that I might feel fresh at least but the fear of interview was overpowering me and ultimately I got up with heavy mind and set out to the Head Office which was at Parliament Street,New Delhi at that time it was 7 O’clock.

When I reached H.O. no body was seen there and I was  standing  near the boundary wall. Suddenly one Sardar ji came to me and asked me how I was and we exchanged greeting and then he asked me how I had come. I told him that I had come for interview. He told me that the Head Office opens at 10 O’clock and the interview starts after 10.00. I told him that I received telegram to reach for interview at 7.30 am. He told me there might be some thing wrong in the communication. The way he met me, it was mistaken identity. Later I came to know that he was a Canteen Contractor at the H.O. As the interview was to start after 10 O’clock I asked Sardar ji if I could get some place to sit. He took me to his office in the Canteen. Again I opened the circular file but my mental situation was even worst. My head was heavy and eyes were sleepy.  I could not go through even the single  line of the circular. After some times Sardar ji came again and asked me if I had any Godfather at the Head Office and told me that he had been observing many interviews  for the last many years and found only those candidate were lucky to get through in selection  who had any approach. Above my seat where I was sitting there was framed Photo of Baba Nanak,  pointing to Baba’s photo, I told him casually that  if He wants I would be successful in the interview  and if He does not want, How can I clear the interview? On hearing these utterances he spontaneously  said ‘Babu Ji you are definitely going to be selected.’ Again I tried to go through the papers but I found my mind was totally blocked and there was no concentration.

In the meanwhile Sardar ji  came to tell me the interview was going to start. I reached in a room adjacent to Conference Room. There were around twenty candidates and all the candidates were told that there would be group discussion and we were asked to sit on the chairs in circle. There were three observers sitting on one side. Earlier I never heard of  ‘Group discussion’ and this was my first exposure. The topic given for discussion was ‘There is World Trade Fair and your branch has taken a stall and you are to post one officer. Your branch has three officers who are very efficient, one in banking routine and second is experts in Loans and Merchant Banking and third is a Lady Officer who is expert in Foreign Exchange Business. Whom would you depute there?’ The exhibition timings are from 4 pm to 11 pm. Every body was supposed to take part in the discussion. There was node to start the discussion.  Every body was giving his arguments in favour of putting a particular officer but I was still a silent spectator and was mastering courage to speak and also had not made any firm opinion and the time set for discussion was going to end. Suddenly, I stood up and said ‘I do value the opinions put forth by my learned friends but I take liberty to differ with all. I forcefully argumented that the lady staff member who has been given the training for this particular job and  be  deputed to the counter of the World Trade fair.  So far the personal inconvenience of the officer is concerned it may be appreciated but the lady officer if she feels any inconvenience she may seek help from her relatives for her late coming and gave logical argument on each points’. None of my colleagues proposed the posting of the lady staff because of her problem being a lady. The group discussion was concluded after my turn was over we were asked to wait out side for the result.

Immediately when the discussion was over DK Gupta who was the head of the observing committee came to me and said, ‘Wise men always differ’. This pet was enough to boost me and to give indication of my performance in the group discussion. We were waiting out side the room in the corridor and now my mind was a little relaxed after the group discussion especially after DK Gupa gave a pat. Now we were expecting that the interview would be on the next day and I would be able to concentrate on the preparation of interview. After about half an hour all the candidates who appeared for the group discussion were told to come for the interview after lunch. My heart again began to sink after knowing that interview would be on the same day in the afternoon. I was completely blank and my mind again became nervous. We went for snacks in the canteen. In the canteen I met my old colleague RK Cajala who had worked with me in the Regional office when I was sub- Accountant. I inquired from him about the schemes under the twenty point Programme  while taking snacks he narrated the name of 20 point Programme schemes. The time was very short and I could not get the details of the schemes. I could only catch the names of the schemes. Now, there was time for the interview and one by one was called for the interview.

There were four senior officers in the interview committee. Barara, G.M was heading the committee beside LD Adhlakha, Chief Manager. Parliament Street and one more senior officer(I am unable to recall his name). LD Adlaklaha initiated the interview and asked, ‘how is it you have been moving between Yamuna Nagar and Chandigarh for postings.’ I told him that these never had been managed by me but the bank had put me where ever they wanted me. Then he asked, ‘what the 20 point programme  are?’ I started  narrating one by one as I had  heard from Cajala. When I came to twenty point Programme  for the ‘House wives’ he asked me what that scheme was and how much money I would give under the scheme. When I explained the scheme, and told the maximum eligibility under the scheme was Rs.20000/-. He further asked what if a lady wanted to start business of papad making would I give her Rs.20000/- I told that that was the maximum limit but the amount of the Loan would be need base. He then asked me ‘What is bonded labour’. Although, Cajala did not tell me about this scheme  but incidentally  I recently I came to know a live case of Kiln Owner of my friend JC Dhir who told his problem about it a few days earlier and it was handy with me. I gave a brief of the Bonded Labour then he immediately asked me to quote any example. Then I narrated the case of Kiln Owner When Adhalkha was asking the questions in between Barara left the room for some work and I was allowed to go there after.  I felt the interview was satisfactory after bearing so much of mental agony for two days I was feeling relaxed without taxing my mind under the burden of the circular file I was carrying with me.

Ultimately when the result came I was cleared for ‘B’ Grade (scale II now) manager, where as my friend Cajala could not. After about two years there was another interview for the Manager Grade A (Scale III now). Now the call for interview was well in time and I could prepare for the interview. More so, there were not much new schemes. The great progress in the branch was at my credit and Senior Officers at the Head Office were also well aware of it. I was complacent and did not speak any of the senior officers who were now at Head Office and were well known to me. One day one of my friends came to me and asked me if I had spoken to the Senior Officer known to me at Head Office. I told him, ‘I don’t feel like requesting them when they already knew me. They know my worth.  If I request them they may take ill and may take that I am influencing them and it may affect me adversely. My friend was intelligent enough. He said it can be otherwise also. ‘If I don’t request them they may feel that Sethi is so proud and arrogant  that he did not even bothered  to request us .’ I thought his saying had some weight but I did not want to let down my self by requesting for a favour. When my friend left, my mind was weighing my conviction and the suggestion put forth by my friend. (I cannot recall his name  but his suggestion was appealing me after he left). At night I took residential telephone numbers of Senior Officers known to me and told them, ‘Sir, I have been called for the Interview for A Grade (Scale III) and seek your blessings’. Among those whom I called were KC Mehra, General Manager, KG Sapra Deputy General Manager, DK Gupta Deputy General Manager and VP Amar (who was officer on special duty at H.O. and was sharing the cabin with SN Gupta chief personal. I think I made one or two more calls also at the residence of the senior officers. All most all of them conveyed their good wishes and some of them told me that they would not be there on that day but conveyed  me their good wishes  but I again made them clear that my telephone call was only for seeking their blessings. VP Amar was nice enough to tell me that I should come a day earlier and stay with him. I thanked him and told him that I had to stay with some of my relatives at Delhi and told him that I would see him before the interview.

This time, instead of going to any of my relatives I stayed at an ordinary Hotel at Pahar Gang in New Delhi as the tariff was very high in moderate hotels. I reached H.O. before scheduled time and went to VP Amar at SN Gupta’s Cabin. Amar was in his cabin as all alone and SNGupta joined him later.  Amar asked me how my preparation for the interview was. I told him it was aright but interview was interview. After talking with me for some times he told me that my interview was going to start and he gave me his blessings and he too left somewhere. 

When my turn for the interview came I found, there were four Senior officers sitting in the interview committee. When I was asked to sit, immediately  Sham Lal Chopra asked me, what was the secret of my success at B.O.Sector-16  I told him, it was God grace, active cooperation of my colleagues and timely support of my seniors. Then he told me that the support of the senior always remain with every one. I replied that  I was getting qualitative, quantitative and timely support also. Then he then asked me how I would handle the staff if I was put at Calcutta where there are many aggressive Trade unions. Some are Marxists, some are communist some are affiliated to other political parties with strong rivalries. What type of my attitude would be, mother like or otherwise? I told him that my attitude would be mother like. By raising my hand I told him that the mother has a hand to slap  also if his child goes astray. He further inquired why I could not get the Account of Punjab University. I told him that I had met the University Authorities and they were anxious to deal with my bank but for the rules of the Syndicates and it was very difficult to get the rules changed. Then he asked other members of the interview committee if they wanted to put any question. All said no more. Sham Lal Chopra was  considered very tough officer  and was the Chairman of the interview committee and was well informed of me and my branch’s activities and  Chopra said in the end ‘best of luck’.  This was my first interview which I faced with confidence and where the result was quite visible. I presume Amar  must have gone to Sham Lal Chopra who was senior most General Manager and with whom he had very good equations. Whenever, Chopra used to Come Chandigarh he used to stay with Amar even though his mother was living with his sister’s son Mehta, a Taxation consultant at Sector-15.

As said earlier, after 11 O’clock I generally used to leave the branch and visit the different Government and Semi Government institutions for liaison and I had many institutional deposits.  I had good deposits from Haryana Red Cross Society also. Harnam Singh was the Secretary and Ashok Pathania was the Account Officer. Pathania was a great help to me in getting the Deposit from the Society.  One day, I received a telephone call from Pathania that he was sending one of his colleagues with a cheque for Rs.3000/- and requested me to discount his cheque as he needed money for the marriage of his sister. Normally, we did not discount Cheques in Saving Funds but since the request was from the Account Officer of the Red Cross Society who were keeping deposits with me in Lacs. I could not say no to him and discounted the cheque of his colleague. A few days later, before the earlier Cheques was cleared he again came with another cheque for Rs.2000/- and told me that he had become short of money and needed the money of that cheque urgently for the marriage of his sister. I discounted that Cheque also. The Cheques were drawn on State Bank of India on one of its suburb branch of Shimla where we had no branch. We sent these Cheques to our Shimla branch for collection. After about a fortnight or so, I received back the Cheques as unpaid with the memo there was no account. It was a shock to me and I was very much disturbed as the cheques were taken in S.F. against the Head Office instructions. I conveyed Pathaina about my worry. Pathania too became disturbed after knowing its implications. He assured me that he would pull up the man and would see that the Bank’s money was recovered but there was no progress. I was holding the un-paid cheques without informing the authorities in D.D. return statement. It was concealment of facts also from the higher authorities which were very serious. Due to my constant pressure Pathania, his man along with his wife came to me with a Diamond Jewelry set. They wanted that that set be kept as security till they arrange for the money. But, instead of touching the set, I sent one of my officials with them to Sector-22 branch to get it valued. When they returned it was revealed that the set was artificial. Had I taken the set, I would have been further in trouble. I told them that I was going to report matter to the police for defrauding the Bank. I also immediately informed Pathania about the incidence. He too became furious and told me to send them back to him. After that Pathania arranged loan against his Provident Fund and also forced his brother-in-law who was also working in his office to take loan against Provident Fund to make up the deficit. Pathania, then informed me that he was holding the money. I told him to keep the money with him till I tell him.

I was now worried how to cover up this lapse and bridge the gap. I went to Regional Manager to explain the lapse before putting the things on record. First, I met PL Aggarwal, the Assistant Regional Manager and told him the whole incidence. Incidentally, HN Choudhary, Manager, Zonal Training Center was already sitting in his cabin. He was very close to me. He told me that I should not worry and he would tackle the matter. He immediately accompanied me to my branch and chalked out the strategy. It was decided that Choudhry would go to Shimla with the gentleman along with the money and the same Cheques would be presented again to the branch of the State Bank of India where the culprit would open the account and our Shimla branch would collect the Cheques with the help of JK Bedi, Manager Shimla. For this whole exercise Choudhary had to stay Shimla for three days and brought the credit advice from the branch. We had a sigh of relief. During this period of turmoil my Bhua Daya, her husband Om Parkash Kochhar, Krishan Anand, my cousin along with his family came to stay with me on there way back from Kulu-Manali. Uncle Kochhar found that I was very much disturbed because of this fraud. Before returning to Delhi he told me that he would be back after two three days to give me a moral support but he could not come and instead sent me a draft for Rs.2000/- to meet these uncalled for expenses. However, when I bought the Car on interest free loan and I was supposed to inform all my relatives. When Uncle Kochhar came to know that I had purchased a car he immediately recalled his Rs.2000/- for which I had no arrangement to pay him immediately though his recall was on the expected lines. However I borrowed the money with great difficulties and returned the money immediately. Uncle Kochhar had a peculiar set of mind and he used to keep relations with well placed relatives and people but was critical to those who had normal status. As and when I was able to do some thing for my parental family, he used to discourage me. Once he wrote me a lengthy letter, telling me that the way I was doing for my parental family, the day would come when my children would be grown up and I would not have money, then, no body would come forward to help me. He even wrote that if I was so mad to look after my parental family I should dispose of my house. Whatever and whenever a little  I was doing for my parental family was not under any pressure but I was doing what my conscious was telling without making any show of it. I didn’t know why he was so irritated when I never asked for his help at any time nor did I ever tell him that I was under any financial strain. He always had the negative attitude but I had developed my nature to keep myself composed and smiling even under adversities and tried to keep good relations with every one and never exposed my problems to anybody even to my parental family. I knew that no body was in position to help me and give solution for the  problems and I was to  live with them only.  I kept that letter for years and torn it very recently.

Since there was fast expansion in branch business and I was getting the matching staff also. The space in the branch was getting very short. Resultantly  I shifted Day Book, Statement seats and tallying of balances in my Drawing Room on the first floor during the day and after banking hours I was using it as Drawing room. It was to the knowledge of my friend, Aggarwal, Assistant Regional Manager who was residing a few yards  away from the Bank building. He was so closed that he used to sleep in my house whenever we had to go some where. One day as usual after his walk he came to my house and saw that the drawing room was being used as office. He suggested that I should talk to Amar, Regional Manager for the Bungalow in Sector-15 which was lying vacant after the transfer and promotion of BN Gupta as Regional Manager to Shimla. He further disclosed me that he had already talked to the Regional Manager for that Bungalow for his own shifting but he had declined him. He told me there was nothing wrong in my talking to him_ maximum he would refuse me also.  Aggarwal was living in 14 Marla house. In the evening I went to Amar’s house which was also a few yards from the branch. I requested him to pay visit to my office for a few minutes before going to his office next morning to which he gladly agreed. Amar came to my office before going to his office. I showed him the sitting arrangement of my office and then took him to my residence on the first floor. My drawing room was just on the right to my entrance. When he entered the drawing room he saw many Bank books lying there. He asked what is this?’ I told him that there was no space in the banking hall and I was supposed to carry on the working of the branch and I could not break the walls to accommodate the staff. I further told him the space was spare with me during the day and I could carry on the working of the office during the day and told him that I was using the same for personal use after the office hours. In the mean while, my wife came there to wish him. He questioned her, why she was permitting the residence for  office use. She told him that how she could check that. Instead I could say anything further; he told me that I should shift my residence to Sector-15 Bungalow immediately. He told me that he would get the house cleaned and put it to usable condition by sending OP Khurana, Accountant  GAD,  as that was vacant for the last many months and water meter had been stolen.

This Bungalow was kept vacant for Amarjit Singh who was to join Chandigarh as Regional Manager in place of Amar who was officiating as Zonal Manager after Sapra was transferred to H.O. and was living in Sector-11.  Both the bungalows were kept vacant for Amarjit’s choice. Before joining, Amarjit visited Chandigarh for a day and he selected Sector-11 Bungalow  and Sector-15 Bungalow was to remain vacant. Khurana came next day and told me that  Amar had told him to get my luggage shifted by coming Sunday to Bungalow No.2221 in Sector-15-C and told me that he would manage everything in the Bungalow before that and  further told me that in the meanwhile I should pack my luggage.  In the evening I conveyed  PL Aggarwal  about the development. He said satirically that I had become Kothi wala. I told him that it was because of him and told him hat I acted as per his advice only. Visibly he showed his happiness but when I went to his house his family was feeling envy. It was natural also as Aggarwal was Assistant Regional Manager and was living in 14 marla house and was denied of this Bungalow where as I was offered to occupy without my formal request even. I was simple Scale II Manager. Not only  that  I was  favoured with that Bungalow which was for Senior Officers, I was allowed to get telephone connection also which otherwise Scale II Managers were not eligible.

In those days, I used to have severe headache which used to last for three days. The first two days it used to ascend and on  third day it used to descend but there used to be acute weakness there after.  On the second day the pain used to be  so throbbing that I could not put my head on the pillow even but during the attack I never took leave as lying on the bed used to aggravates my pain. Normally, this attack used to be in the last week of the month.  I used to attend the office as usual but could do the routine work which did not require concentration. During the pain unconsciously my hands used to press my head every now and then. One day, when I was in the office a PGI Doctor was sitting with me in my Cabin. He might have observed my face or any of my action, he asked me was I suffering from migraine? I replied I was not aware of it but I told him that I was having very sever headache. He than told me that that was migraine from which I was suffering. I told him that no pain killer worked during the attack. He advised me that I normally get the feeling when the pain was to start and I should take any pain killer immediately, even the mildest would work in the beginning. He further told me that that when the pain was at its peak no medicine would work. After his advice I used to take the pain killer at the outset and was saved of the untold- unbearable pain. Gradually I was relieved of this pain.  When? I did not know.

I was guest speaker at ZTC (Zonal Training Center)  to deliver lectures to the trainees on routine and customer service and used to take the trainees to various units financed by me.  Once, I was invited by RL Prabhakar, Principal Staff Training College, New Bank of India to deliver lecture on Customer Service and Public Relation to very senior clerks of his Bank. Mostly they were hard core leaders. When I stressed on the customer service they were provoked and instead wanted that the Bank should take action against the customers who misbehaves with the staff. I tried to analyse why the customers get provoked and  where it would  end if we too start paying them in same coin. I counseled them that we will loose our own image in the society and if we tackle them properly we would not only enhance the image of the bank but our own also. Customer has a choice but we don’t have. Seemingly, they reconciled.

While my daughter Rekha (Pinki) had done her graduation and was doing Post Graduation in Political Science from Punjab University in evening classes. Once, she proposed one boy, Bajaj by caste, who was studying with her and was working in Central Bank of India  She talked to me direct but I could not say yes to her. She was so submissive that she never talked about it after my saying no. I had no resources and never thought of marrying her till then and I was not disturbed even, how I would manage the finances for the marriage of my daughters. My daughter Renu was doing graduation from MCMDAV College for women.  Rakesh, my son had appeared in B.Com from Punjab University but failed in three subjects. He insisted that he should have passed as he had well done  in the examination to get the passing marks. I thought to get reassessment of his two papers and if he was lucky to get through in the two papers, he would be able to get compartment in one paper but he insisted that I should get reassessment of all the three papers. As per his desire I filled the forms for reassessment of all the three papers and deposited the required reassessment fee. Surprise to every one, Rakesh cleared the B.Com after the reassessment. Now the question was what he should do after graduation. Further study was neither affordable for me nor I found that he had any interest.  He was very fond of new clothes and used to purchase new clothes in my name from the neighboring shop without my knowledge Every now and then I had to pay his clothing bills despite my telling  him that there should be no further purchase and told the Cloth Merchant also but he continued for some times. He was early riser and used to bring milk from village Burail even in winter.

Kamla Verma was Health Minister of Haryana. She used to visit our house occasionally and would remain at our residence for hours. She used to enjoy the company of my daughters, Rekha and Renu and she would normally go after taking dinner or lunch.  Whenever she was to go for shopping, she used to take Renu along with her.  Number of times when she was to take rest from his official work, she used to give me a call that I should send my personal car to fetch her from her residence. .She would not come in her official Car with body guards. Once, Renuka Puri d/o of my friend MK Puri came to stay with us as she was to appear in her M.A. Music examination. After two days, Kamla came to our residence to take her to her Kothi. Renuka was engaged to her son Rajiv and we allowed her to go after taking permission from his father, Puri on telephone. Though Dr. Kamla was frequent visitor to our house and some time we also used to go to her residence but there had been no occasion when I had asked her for any work for self or for any one.

There was Bank Scheme for mini collectors in our bank. The mini collectors used open the account of the customers and collect money from them from their homes and deposit in their mini deposit accounts and used to get the commission on their monthly collections in lieu of salary. Since Rakesh had no work I decided to get him appointed as Mini Collector.  I got him attached with Sector-22 branch. Narinder Kakkar s/o RP Kakkar, Manager B.O. Sector-22 was already working as mini collector in my branch along with two others. Rakesh was doing good job initially but he began to demand motor vehicle and stressed that he was unable to go on cycle. I had no money to purchase scooter or motor bike for him.  Some how I got financed one mopped (Scotty) but he was not prepared to take it as  felt, going on a small vehicle was below  to his dignity  as he was son of a Manager who was having a car and was living in a Bungalow. Despite my persuasions he never touched that mopped which ultimately I had to sell at loss. In Sector-21 Scoter Market there was one known motor mechanic. I requested his to get me one second hand Scooter which should not cost more than Rs.1000/- for Rakesh.  He got me one Lamberta Scooter for Rs.1000/- Most of the time it remained with the mechanic and ultimately I had to sell that also at loss.

ML Sachdeva and I had worked together as clerk at B.O. Yamuna Nagar. Now he was Accountant on loans in my office. One night, he came to my residence alone and told me that he wanted Rakesh to work with his son Ashok. As per him, Ashok  was a spoiled child and expected that his son would improve in the company of Rakesh and both had no job and they should start a business together. He wanted to start machine screw industry at Industrial Area. I told him that I had no money and asked him; perhaps he might be aware of that. He confirmed that he knew my financial position and told me that that he did not expect any money from me. He simply wanted Rakesh to be partner in this venture and he would be equal partner in the business and he would put equal share of capital in his  name. I never wanted to take the risk nor did I want to take any obligation from any one and more so when I knew that the business was a risky affair and I had no money to invest. He was so adamant and finally he told me that he would not leave my place unless I agree to his proposal. Ultimately I had to submit but put two conditions that I would not be going their factory and secondly I would not be asking any favour from any body nor I would be guarantor in the account in case they would take loan from the Bank. He agreed to my all the conditions and after getting affirmation he left my house.

Ultimately, a partnership deed was got  drafted by Sachdeva in which there were four partners, Rakesh, Ashok and their mothers, Nirmal and Santosh with equal share in the profit. He brought cash to be deposited in the name of Rakesh and Nirmal in the firm and the firm was named as M/S S.S. Fastners. I could not deposit this substantial amount as my account showed very nominal balance. Ultimately the Demand Drafts were got purchased in the name of Janak, Kamla (Nirmal’s sisters) and in other names from Rakesh’s maternal family as gift/loan  in favour of Nirmal and Rakesh to make their equal Capital in the firm. Sachdeva hired a shed in the Industrial Area and they applied for loan from Punjab National Bank Sector-28. Though I had never told anybody in the bank but the concerned officials of the Regional Office prepared their papers themselves when they came to know that that my son had interest in the project. KK Singla Financial Analysist (Chartered Account) and SSI Officers GD Nagar and MC Gulati of the Regional Office prepared the project report on behalf of the borrowers and they themselves processed the proposal for the Regional Office and the Branch. I don’t remember whether the loan was sanctioned by the Regional Office or by the branch but I knew that  I never spoke to any one at any level. One Aggawal who was also in the same business and was loanee of my branch gave them know- how and introduced them to the market also. He also guided them what machinery was to be purchased and from where. I never tried to know all these details. The Statutory requirement for power, telephone connections, Sale Tax Number, their office requirements, man- power (Foreman, skilled and unskilled labour), Raw material etc were arranged by Sachdeva himself without involving me. Many other parties who were in the industrial area gave   extending hand after knowing Rakesh, my son had started a manufacturing unit. It is apparent my name directly or indirectly was used/misused.

The factory started running smoothing and they did not face any problem either in manufacturing or in the marketing or in the finances. . Sachdeva, of course, was taking full interest. Once or twice Sachdeva took me to the factory. The two immature boys had a free hand. Overnight they  had become Industrialist without any experience and efforts and more so without any yoke. They had enough money now to enjoy it. Their feet were not on the ground. They got made a very decorative office so as to give good show. Sometime Rakesh used to come late at night. On my asking he used to tell that some party had come and they had taken him to hotel for dinner. Mentally it was not acceptable to me but I was only to advise him that he should prove his worth as he had got an opportunity to start a big business without investing any thing but I found his mind was working differently. I told Sachdeva about my apprehensions but he too had the limits to control them. I decided to call my brother Inder from Mathura on better salary with a view that he would have indirectly control on them and on the working of the factory so that it should flourish and gradually, Inder would get respectable status and share from the factory when it would start progressing and when it would become self sufficient with their hard work. Inder worked very hard. He tried to improve its working and also tried to know the working of all the machines from the workers but I feel Rakesh and Ashok were taking him hindrance in their freedom. They did not help him to foot down. Ultimately Inder desired to go back Mathura after a few months when he found that he was not successful in his mission. He told me that he had a better offer in a Factory at Mathura and his friends wanted him to come back to Mathura  With heavy heart I allowed him to go back as I foresaw that my ambition for his future and that of the factory was seen not going to be materialised without the co-operation of Rakesh and Ashok.

Their main supply was to Calcutta. One of his customer, Shah owed about Rs.10, 000/- and was not paying the amount despite many reminders. Rakesh lodged criminal complaint against him with the local Police and sought their help and paid under hand money and took a Police Constable to Calcutta  The party was disturbed and Rakesh told him determinedly that he won’t go back without taking the payment and would have to pay him even if he had to sell the jewelry. Ultimately the party arranged the money and paid him. He, instead of coming by Auto Rickshaw or Taxi he preferred to come on a hand driven Rickshaw in the open from his shop to the hotel; so that he or his man may not harm him or snatch the money on the way. Immediately on reaching the hotel he sent back the police constable to Chandigarh after paying him the money  agreed upon and changed his hotel. On his return, I inquired how much the money was due from  Shah he told me it was about Rs.10,000/- and asked how much he had spent to recover. He told me that it must be around the money he received. Then I asked what he gained in this exercise. He told me after this exercise no party would dare to withhold their payment. Rakesh went Bangalore, Madras and some other places to explore the new market but without any results.

It was very hot summer, one day Mrs. Amar, wife of my Regional Manager  visied to our house in the afternoon along with her neighbour while I was in the office.  After sitting for some times they were to leave. Nirmal told them that she had sent her child to bring the ice from the market and would not allow them to go without taking water. Mrs. Amar was astonished to know that we were not having fridge even. She told her that she would be asking me that I should get the fridge immediately and she told Nirmal that she was going to tell Amar also. She also remarked how it was that she was not having a fridge in her big Kothi. In the evening, when I returned home in the evening she told me the whole incidence. Next morning I receive a telephonic call from Amar also, asking me how strange  that I was not having a fridge. He asked me if I would be able to arrange a fridge or he might arrange for it for me. I told him that I would manage it myself.  Immediately I called ML Goyal my Accountant and asked him if he could get me a fridge on installments. There was a scheme of consumer Loan in Indian Overseas Bank and his brother-in-law (husband of his sister Usha) was working there. He immediately went to I.O.B and brought the papers from the Bank and got them signed from me and got me Kelvinator fridge in the evening.

The deposits of the branch were shooting in geometrical progression so was the loan portfolio. I had financed under almost all the schemes of the Bank from small Loan to big Industrial loans. Notable finances were loan to Reheri walas, House Wives, Dairy Forming, Poultry Forming (layers & Boilers), changing of Matador engines from Petrol to diesel, saw mill, soap making, Chemists  professional like Dentist, Car Loan to Doctors, Industries like Fertilizer, Chemicals, Screws, wire drawing, conduit pipes, Synthetic bags for fertilizers, Coronet-ed boxes sheets, Springs, furniture, Conductor wires, electric wires, Car and Truck batteries, chips for electronic goods, fabrications, waxed sheet for Bread and Biscuits. Notable borrowers were Swadeshi Metals, Himachal Conductors, Raja Forging, Ratish Verma s/o Dr.MC Verma Professor in Punjab Engineering College, three units of Punjab electronic, ML Nayyar, Ex-Sectary Punjab Khadi Board, Dr.Sethi dentist; Dr. Chakarwati Professor  of medicine in P.G.I., Dr.Grewal retired Director CSIR. Finances were spread over to Mohali,  Chandigarh Industrial Area, Panchkula, Pinjore and villages like Dadu Majara, Palsora, Naya Gaon, and Dhanas. I think no other branch even other banks in Chandigarh had such a spread. Some officers who worked on loan were LS Saini, Ashok Gupta, ML Sachdeva and Mrs. Malkiat Sandhu. On routine who worked were RD Gandhi, KP Bhaghi, DN Dhawan, Garg, BD Sandal, MR Goel, OP Aroa. HL Arora for job training, Kiran Marwah (now Grover- GM) joined me as Management Trainee.

When Saini was transferred to Regional Office Ashok Gupta was deputed on Loan seat. Number of proposals of HMT ancillary units and Punjab Electronic were in process with Gupta. One day Gupta came to me with a complaint that SP Goyal of Raja Forging came to his house to gave him money. He got annoyed with Goyal and asked him how he dared to come to him for this purpose. Ashok told me that he would not handle his proposal and suggested me that we should return his proposal. I counciled Gupta,  telling that taking of money was most common in the Government Departments, whether it was for Power, Sale Tax, Income Tax and any other department. The businessmen knew only that all the work could be done  after paying under the table and Goyal too might have thought of the same here also. I advised him that he should process his proposal thoroughly on priority and without any laxity and if it was not viable then it should be returned immediately and if it was viable then it be put to me at the earliest but after through scanning as delay in dealing normally give the impression that the delay was because we wanted money. When Goyal came to my office after a few days and I asked him  in my cabin and asked what made him to feel  that his proposal would be cleared speedily only if he gave the bribe. He expressed his regrets and told that he was mistaken because it was order of the day. No body dared to come to me with any gift even on Diwali with exception of one Gupta of State Bank of India whose dairy loan was sanctioned in village Khuda Lahora. He came with a bottle of whisky and a packet of sweets on Diwali. I told him politely that we did not celebrate Diwali in that way and served him tea and told him that I don’t drink. He took the whisky bottle back but force fully he left the sweets packet there.

I was very soft and friendly with my colleagues but never tolerated any misbehavior in the office at any time. There was 0% tolerance over this. If the employee accepted the fault I never stretched the matter further. For me realisation was sufficient and it was better tool than punishment. I did not believe in punishment when there was realisation in the worker after committing the mistake. Om Parkash peon-cum guard, once, was asked to do some particular work by the Accountant and he refused to do the work telling that that  it was not his duty.  When I came to know I called Om Parkash and asked him why he did not obey the orders. He told me that it was not his duty. I immediately issued officer order that he should be posted as Guard at the Gate. The Guard duty was very tuff as he had to stand at the gate for 6 hours holding the gun. Where as peon he had free duty of moving and could socially mix with his colleagues and public. After two days he came to me and regretted about his behavior and requested that he be allowed to work as peon. I reminded him that Guarding was his duty as his designation was Peon cum-Guard and the bank could take work of the Guard also. There was no injustice to him. I told him that though he otherwise was a good worker and was helping in deposit and recovery of Loans  which had also been appreciated but indiscipline cannot be tolerated at the cost of his good work. After his realisation, I reverted him to his peon’s duty.

Suraj Parkash Nagpal, teller misbehaved with the customer and did not co-operate with customer despite being told by the Accountant. He was President of NOBW and I had also sympathies with the NOBW members because of my own past association but in noway I could compromise with the indiscipline. On the coming day I did not allow him to sit on the Teller seat. I issued an office order and put a Senior Clerk in his place as teller and asked him to wait for further duties. I got him one chair and table in the Banking Hall and told him to sit and wait for further instructions. He was not given any work for the whole day. He came to me two three times to know the work he was to do  but every time I told him to sit at his seat and wait. My intention was to not give him any work and let him sit idle for the whole day.  Telling the man to sit without work for the whole day especially in the Banking Hall was a great punishment while the other staff members were working and attending to the customers and he alone was sitting idle the whole day. Next day when he came to for the work I asked him to wait on his seat. Sitting idle for two days in the hall was very humiliating.  In between he reminded me that he was permanent teller and was entitled of Teller allowance. I assured him that his Teller’s allowance will not be deducted but I told him that I was seeing how to utilise his services. Ultimately he came to me after office hours and asked whether he was being penalised for the incidence of other day. I told him that it could be so and asked him was his behavior fair on that day. He told that  he also felt that he could avoid that incidence and felt sorry. I made him clear that though he was a good worker and was very close to me but this behavior was not expected from him. He regretted for his action and I sent him back to his Teller seat.

BD Sandal a senior Accountant was very close to me and my family. He was Sah-Kariava (Joint Secretary) of R.S.S. Chandigarh and I also had R.S.S. background. Some balances were to be tallied but he did not tally them despite repeatedly reminding him and perhaps he told me that it was difficult to tally them as he had much other work. I was to submit the monthly progress report. Reluctantly  I had to issue a memo to him and ultimately the balances were tallied within two days after issuing of the memo. No body expected that I could issue memo to Sandal and he also might have felt like that and some person might have exploited it also but there was no change in our personal and family relations even there after.

Dr.VK Nayyar, a clerk was son and son-in-law of a retired  senior Managers.  He always shirked work and tried to avoid to do any work  assigned to him and was master in putting excuses. (He was homeopathic Doctor also) and had good relations with the Senior Officers. Once, I was at my residence for lunch he misbehaved with Bhaghi, Accountant violently. Bhaghi came to me at my residence and complaint me about his intolerable behavior and his refusal to the do the work allotted to him. He was under my observation after he joined the branch. I knew that he had a tendency to shirk work whenever any work was assigned to him and was not matching to the working of our office. Instead of going to branch I straight went to Regional Manager and procured his transferred orders for B.O.Sector-28 and also got typed his transfer order typed from the Regional Office itself so that it should not be leaked out. Before he was to leave the office I called him in my cabin and delivered him the Transfer Orders. He requested that he should be given one day but I did not agree and relieved him.

Mrs. Malkiat Sandhu was Probationary Officer in my branch. After completion of her probationary period she was posted as Accountant in my office she  was put on one of the routine seats. She was a good worker but was very ambitious. One day she requested me that she be given the Loan Seat.  I told her that it was a very difficult seat for her as the Loan accountant had to go in the field also at odd hours for verification of the documents and securities and also for post follow up and it did not suit to the lady staff but she was very much confident and she told me that she could go in the field also. She asked me to give her a trial. I posted her on the Loan Seat after Ashok Gupta was transferred. Though she could not get much occasion to visit in the field but she justified her worth at the table.

If  ever I had said wrong words to any of the members of staff I was ready to express my regrets also. Once Om Parkash, peon was reprimanded for doing some thing wrong I used very harsh words to him. When next morning he came to the office I called him in my cabin and told him ‘Om Parkash, I am sorry, the way I told you was not proper.

Though there were many Senior Manager in Chandigarh branches but I was given the important assignments by Amarjit, the Regional Manager. Once Traders and Industrialist meeting was organized at Indian Institute of Chartered Accountants by the Bank and DK Gupta, General Manager came from the Head Office to address the meeting I was asked to conduct the meeting in presence of the Senior Managers. I resisted but Amarjit told me that it was I who had to conduct the meeting despite my telling that I had no experience. I conducted the meeting to the best of my ability but I felt some jealousy was creeping in the minds of Senior Managers which was natural also. The reaction was seen some times later in disguise . Once, on the eve of New Year, Amarjit organised a cocktail party at his residence at Sector-11. I was teetotaler but was not unsocial and attended the party.  When every one was to take the peg he insisted upon to follow the others. I told him laughing, ‘I would enjoy more when you had taken and you start talking’. Amarjit tried to convince me, ‘you are doing very well but if you take alcohol also you can do still better.’ I asked him that did he feel that I was lacking because I was not taking the alcohol. Then he  did not insisted and  was allowed enjoy their ‘big talks’.

One day, I received a call from  Amar, Zonal Manager asking me if I could come to his office as he needed my help for his very distinguished friend. I immediately reached his office. One gentleman with majestic personalty was sitting with him and he got me introduced to him and told that he was Pahawah, a very close relative of Sham Lal Chopra a very powerful, General Manager (later Chairman of the bank) of our Bank. Pahawah had retired as Senior Executive from Coal India Limited, Calcutta. Amar told me that his daughter had done M.B.B.S. and wanted a seat in PGI for Post Graduation in medicines and Dr .Charkatvati was Head of the Department and he can accommodate her if I talked to him. I had financed car loan to Dr .Charkarvarti and he knew me very closely.  I had visited his house twice after the finance. I immediately connected Dr. Charkarvati on telephone and told  him that I wanted a favour for the daughter of my friend if he could do. He just asked me about the marks she had obtained in her M.B.B.S. and he took no time to assure me that she be sent to him next day and he would accommodate her. Amar and Pahawa were very happy as Dr. Chakarvarti had declined her admission when earlier they met him. Pahawah felt much obliged. In the mean while tea was there. Pahawa was asking Amar now nothing could be done about his cheques. Amar told him, till the postal strike at Calcutta was  over nothing could be done. Pahawah told him that he already had met State Bank of India and also met Khurana, Manager of our Sector-17 office and both had shown their helplessness but he needed some money urgently. I over heard their talk and asked what was the problem. Pahwah told me that he was holding cheques for over 5 lacs in his favour as retirement dues drawn on State Bank of India Calcutta but because of the Postal Strike all the banks had refused to take the cheques but he needed a small money urgently.

There was postal strike in Bengal and the Head Office had issued circular that no cheque or bill drawn at Calcutta be taken for collection till the postal strike was over. I immediately took the cheques from Pahawah; these were probably three or four in number with total amount of more than five lacs. I took a piece of paper from Amar’s table and asked what  his need was? He told me that he needed about 10,000/ at the earliest and Rs.1, 00,000/- after one month for renovation of his house and remaining amount he wanted to keep in Fixed Deposit for one year. I told him there was no problem in presence of Amar. I told him to sign on the back of the cheques and I telephoned my branch telling them to issue one Saving Fund Pass Book for Rs.1, 10,000/- and three Fixed deposit receipts payable after one year in the joint name of Pahawah and his wife and told them that they should send the Pass Book and Fixed Deposit Receipts for remaining amount to me at the Zonal Manager’s office along with  account opening forms and pay-in-slips for the out station cheques immediately. Amar was seeing at my face without uttering any word. With in half-an-hour S.F. Pass Book and F.D. Receipts and other form reached there. I got the A.O.F. and pay in slip signed from Pahawah and handed over the Fixed Deposit Receipts and the Pass Book to him with a request that he should withdraw the amount from  the Saving Fund account after ten days. He gladly agreed and they both were wondering how I had done when S.B.I., P.N.B.-Sector-17 and Amar himself had declined and I had done all this presence of Amar, the Zonal Manager. After taking tea I asked Pahawah that I would like to accompany him to his residence to have signatures of his spouse on the forms and told him that if  feel like I could take  him to his house in my car. Pawhah had no conveyance at that time. After getting the signatures I went to my office.. The Cheques were discounted in D.D.  and all the accounts were opened in the Bank’s books but I took  hold of the Cheques with its forwarding Schedule in my custody instead of sending them to despatch clerk  as I was hopeful that the Postal strike was to end within a week as per report in the   Papers. After four five days the postal strike ended and I sent the Cheques for collection to Calcutta and got them cleared.

The adjoining shop to our Bank was got vacated by the husband of the Land Lady Raj Kumari Sharma who was N.R.I. and Sharma had come from England with Power of Attoney. When I came to know that the adjoining Shop had become vacant. I immediately approached her husband  to rent out the Shop to the Bank. He was not prepared to rent out the shop to the Bank but I persuaded him and got him agreed some how. The rent was agreed upon Rs.1000/- per month for the full building and I made him to agree to give entry to the shop from the Banking Hall without removing the common walls. I got letter of occupancy signed from him (which was normally taken for residential purpose) as he could backed out if I had gone for the rent deed. After getting all the formalities completed and I took keys of the shop and then I went to Regional Manager for his concurrence/approval. I narrated the Regional Manager  how I had managed to get the shop on the rent without seeking his prior approval.  The Regional Manager Amarjit Singh who was very happy over this achievement. Then I went to  VP Amar, the officiating Zonal Manager to tell that I had taken adjoining building also on rent. He too was happy and remarked ‘Mr. Sethi your style of functioning is such that this space too will become short for you.

The staff had already left for lunch and I also was just to leave. Only ML Sachdeva, Accountant and Suresh Verma, Clerk were still in the Branch. Just then there was a telephone call and Verma picked up the receiver in the Hall. Verma came to my cabin and told me  that there was a call for me. After telling he left my cabin. I picked up the receiver; the caller asked me, if Manager was speaking. I affirmed. He then told me that he was Bhalla, S.P. Vigilance and asked me if I had financed some soap factory. I said yes. He asked me how much money I had taken from him?  It was a fraud. He further told me that I was committing big frauds. He told me further that he was coming to arrest me. I told him that I would be in the office he can come  any time.  When I was just to leave my cabin Sachdeva and Verma were waiting  for me worriedly out side my cabin  They were looking very much disturbed. Sachdeva asked me eagerly what was  the telephone . My face was composed, I told them there was nothing serious and then Verma disclosed that the caller after asking his identity had told him that he was Bhalla, S.P. Vigilance was coming to arrest his Manager. Sachdeva was very much disturbed and asked me what would happen. I told them calmly there was nothing to worry.  Further, I told them that I was going some where and they should wait for me in the office and if any one came tell him I would be back within half hour. I was to go for lunch instead I went to Regional Office to tell Amarjit, the Regional Manager that I might not be coming in the evening meeting which was fixed at 4’clock as I might be held up by the Police  at any time as told by the S.P. Vigilance on phone. When I told Amarjit the whole story he got disturbed and he insisted that I should not go to my office and should remain in his office. I told him that that it would give a wrong signal and would create wrong impression that I was a culprit and was escaping because of some thing I had done wrong. I told him that I might go to the branch and see what was going to happen. I told him that if I was arrested and he might not wait for me in the meeting. As Amarjit was worried he offered to send one officer from his office but I told him that if need be I would give  a call or my office would inform him about the development. I requested him that that story should not be spread. I was back to my office within half an hour and inquired if any body had come. Though I was not disturbed but my mind was composed, waiting for the possible situation. Although it is unbelievable yet true that under my well dressed shirt and pent the under garments were fully torn. I was wearing them for name sake only but nothing was covered with my under garments whether it was my banyan or underwear   First I thought of going to my residence to change them but a thought came if  Police asked me took off my cloths they would see the real Y.P.Sethi, ‘A’ class Manager (scale III)  of the Bank. (I had this foolish thoughts at that time that I would be straight  away be arrested as told by the S.P. on the phone and be asked take off my cloths at the Police Station in interrogation.  I never thought the police first had to check the documents and the account and would ask some related questions before taking me in custody and I did not apply my  mind nor Amarjit told me as such. My mind was working emotionally and not rationally).  I did not go to my residence to take the lunch also so that I might not be taken as absconding. Till late I waited but no body came.

Amarjit was worried he telephoned me to know the development I told him, as such there was no development. The heart of my both the colleagues, Sachdeva and Verma remained palpitating till the end of the day (I had told both of them not to spread the story in the office). From my side I called for the document of that loan account and checked if there was any discrepancy. My mind remained floating but I never got panick and kept my posture calm through out the day though my eyes were often going to ward the main door. but non came till the close of the day. I never gave any feeling to others that I was an important but on the other hand my behavior always was of an ordinary worker and I always was respect to my co-managers.

Almost I had forgotten the incidence. I had never disclosed to any member of my family even. Once, I was away to Delhi on some official work, late at around 10 O’clock at night there was a telephone call from some one. My daughter Renu picked up the receiver and the caller again told her that Bhalla S.P. Vigilance was speaking and asked about me. My daughter told him that I was away to Delhi  He told my daughter that I had committed a fraud and they want to arrest me. This call might have been after three, four months of the first call. Renu became panicky and awoke all the members of the family and told the contents of the call. Everybody in the family and they became panicky after hearing this call. BR Lall, Assistant Inspector General Police, Haryana (who retired as D.G.P. Haryana) was residing in the  kothi next to ours and there was a small boundary wall between the bungalows. My family member came out of their house and Renu called the Aridly of Lall and told that she wanted to speak to uncle Lall. Aridly told her that he was sleeping and he would be annoyed if he awake him. She showed the urgency and insisted that he might not have slept.  Aridly reluctantly knocked the bed room of Iall and told him Renu wanted to talk to him as she was looking very much worried.  Lall immediately came out and Renu gave him the gist of the call and told him about the worry of all the members of the family. Lall and his family were much closed to us. After listening her, he told our family members that it was mischief of some one. Moreover, he told that there was no Bhalla in Vigilance Department. He advised them to sleep peacefully and told Renu that if again there was call, she should tell him to talk to her uncle. He gave instructions to his aridly that if they call him any time during the night he should got him awake. There was no call after that but my family member could not sleep whole night. When I returned from Delhi I was told of the incidence. During the day Lall also met me and he told me that it was a mischief of some of my colleague. This was the last call  of mischief monger and nothing happened after ward.

There were closing days. Once, the Regional Manager, Amarjit called me in his office and told I might take GD Nagar, S.S.I. officer with me and meet certain Institutional Heads for the deposits, may it be for other branches (As I already achieved my targets). Nagar had good equation with KR Punia IAS, Director Cooperative Societies Haryana and his office was also in Sector-17. Though Punia was residing in Kothi No.2225 and I was residing at 2221 in the same lane but we had never met each other earlier and this was my first meeting with Punia.  He met with warmth. We told him the purpose of our coming to him. He told that they had to keep their funds in the co-operative Banks as per rules. We requested him to get us deposits from some other institutions. He immediately called his PA and gave him three four numbers to get him contacted.  Only one of his contacts, Prem Parshant IAS, Director Haryana Mandi Board was available. He told him that he was sending his friends from Punjab National Bank and told him to give them some deposits. Parshand’s office was in Sector-22 opposite to Bus Stand.  Prashant also met us with warmth and called his Account Officer and told him that we were from Punjab National Bank and told him that he should give us cheque for Rs.1 lac. His Account Officer told him that they did not have the funds. He told him to give us cheque against the fund received that day.  The Account Officer was reluctant but Parshant told him firmly to do so. He told us to collect the cheque next day.  When next day I went to collect the cheque, I was told that Parshant was transferred to Hissar as Deputy Commissioner and had left,  but before going, he got the cheque issued  and singed it last night as received his transfer order late in the evening, as told by the account officer. I was after the account of Haryana Dairy Development Corporation and has paid various visits to them without any result. One day when I again met the Director of Corporation he told me that they needed clean overdraft of Rs.1 lac immediately and asked could I give them. From his office itself I contacted Amarjit, Regional Manager and told him that I was speaking from the office of Haryana Dairy Development Corporation and they needed clean over draft of Rs.1 lac immediately. He gave me his node to go ahead. They got issued Demand Draft of Rs.1 lac.on our Hissar office.  After two days I received telephone from H.O. from the General Manager asking me how I had allowed clean overdraft of Rs.1 lac to the Corporation. I told him that I had done with the permission of the Regional Manager (name I don’t remember). Immediately I went to the Regional Office and told Amarji that I had received telephone from the General Manager who had asked me how I had given clean overdraft for Rs.1 lac to the Corporation. In my presence Amarjit telephoned Head Office and told them that  it was he who had permitted the branch manager to allow the overdraft and if they were to ask any thing they should have spoken to him and not to the Branch Manager. After a fortnight Amarjit showed me the Board note which was put up to Board for confirmation of the action of the Regional Manager. In the note it was stated that the Regional Manager did care the existence of the Head Office when the Chairman had no power to sanction this much amount as clean over draft. I was a little worried to see that note and in anxiety I asked Amarjit what would happen. He told me calmly that I should not bother about it. Explanations of Amarjit might have been called. I did not ask Amarjit what was the reaction of the Board while confirming his action. But overdraft was cleared by the Mandi Board within week of its availment. Amarjit was very bold Officer and was true to his words which was not a culture of Senior Officers of the Bank.  Normally, it was notion that the senior officers used to back out of their oral orders when they were in trouble but I saw him an exception who would stand by his words. When he was under transfer to London, he called the meeting of the Managers of the Region and told them that he was under transfer orders and told the Managers that if they had done any thing under his oral instructions they should get that confirmed from him and not only that if they had done any thing with the expectation that they would get it confirmed from him, they should get that confirmed that also. It was very rare boldness in our bank. Not only had that, he wanted to help the honest and innocent employees also. Once, there was complaint against one officer of Jind and he deputed his officer for the inquiry  He counseled his officer in my presence ; if he felt that the officer was otherwise honest and innocent he should ensure that his report should   not be damaging. On many occasions, he used to take my car for his personal; I used to find that the level of petrol in the tank of the car was never lower rather but some times more even though the car had run many miles. One day, I asked him why he had put the petrol in the car after using it as feel small over it. He smiled and told me politely ‘Sethi I know you and your position’ and told me no further talk on this issue’. Sometimes Prem Parshant formally Director of Haryana Agriculture Board who helped me in securing deposits from the Board and was transferred to Hissar as D.C. returned to Haryana Civil Secretariat but he had no vehicle on his return to Chandigarh. Number of times he used to ask me for my car. I told Amarjit about it and he told me that why should I suffer and advised me that I should submit the T.A.bills for the mileage used by Parshant. He did not want to burden me. (Prem Parshant later retired as Chief Secretary, Haryana) LS Saini was transferred to Yamuna Nagar as Manager on his promotion to Scale II from the Regional Office. When he was relieved, Amarjit told him that he should send the proposal for the enhancement of the rent of the house which had rented out to the bank by me. This was subsequently disclosed by Saini when he met me at Chandigarh after his joining at Yamuna Nagar. At no stage I had requested Amarjit for the increase of rent of my house which was rented out to the bank. As far I can recall, I never had talked to Amarjit about my house even. Before he was to go London  he was on leave.  In his absence my transfer orders for Phagwara had come. When he returned, he asked me why I wanted to go Phagwara. I told that I had already completed my 5 years in Chandigarh and per bank Policy I had to be transferred.  More so, I had heard that Phagwara was very potential for development. He told me that he would get the transfer orders cancelled. Amarjit further disclosed me that once he received my  transfer for Regal Building, New Delhi but he did not disclose it to me and got my orders cancelled. He told me that he could get me retained at Chandigarh as there was not substitute for me for the development. I told him that he could detain me for year or so but what after that when I would again be transferred in his absence and I might be sent to some uncomfortable station. More so, I could do better at Phagwara as understand there was great scope of the business and that would help me in my next promotion.  Amarjit told me that it was not the case all the time. He narrated that how he go appreciations and promotion while working at M.I. Road Jaipur where as his predecessor used to get bad letters. In fact I was instrument in getting substantial  institutional deposits and he did not want that I should not leave Chandigarh  He used to take me along to the many Institutions and especially when he used to go Civil Secretariat. Whenever he used to go Secretariat he never took pass or permission from the Govt. Authorities for entering the Secretariat. He was very bold. He used get  his car stopped just before the main gate of the Secretariat, which was the entrance for the Ministers and Senior IAS officers and he used to walk straight to the Secretariat main gate with confidence. The Guards at the gate used to give him salute, taking him some Senior IAS officer I used to follow him.  I took a clue from his style and onward whenever I had to go to the Secretariat, I used to tell my driver to stop the car at the main gate and opened my car door for me and I also use to walk in comfortably in the Secretariat after getting salute from the Security Guards. Before that while going to the Secretariat I had to wait to get the pass to enter in the Secretariat.

Once, Sunil Sharma, managing partner of Paulsons Batteries came to me and told me that he had Batteries manufacturing unit at Mohali and was dealing with S.B.I. and told me that he wanted to shift his account to PNB. After knowing the reasons for his transferring the account to our bank I asked for the required papers for processing his proposal. What ever paper he was asked for, he was abnormally quick to provide them. I asked for the audited balance sheet. He brought the audited balance sheet immediately. I asked for the owner ship- papers of Guarantors.  He brought these too with no time. The property of one the Guarantor was at Ludhiana and of the other was in a village in Rajpura Tehsil of Patiala District.  I could not send any one from my office for the physical verification of the properties and instead gave these papers to Bank advocate Tanwar for his verification and legal opinion  The quickness with which I was getting the papers,  got me  a little suspicious. I went to my Regional Office.  Anish Dhingra was on loan seat. I told him my apprehensions. He disclosed that his father had retired from SBI and one of his close friends Bhalla was Manager at Mohali office of SBI and he could give the true picture. Dhingra talked to Bhalla on telephone and asked about the health of the account of Paulson Batteries. Instead of giving straight reply, he asked Dhingra if he was inquiring as a Banker or as a friend. Dhingra told him that he was seeking his advice as a friend. Then Bhalla told him that the Account was good and Sunil wanted the transfer of his account to our Bank as his working office was at Chandigarh and he confirmed that the Account was running satisfactory.  So, I was trapped. Sunil was very smart. He was expert in talking. Right from the beginning the account remained under scanning. In the beginning the unit appeared to be running satisfactory but subsequent on my various visits I found that the unit was not working well and on most of my visits Sunil was absent. I went to his residence one night and talked to his father also who was in Punjab Police. They assured that the unit would run satisfactory as they had some problems earlier. In the next few days Sunil came with a proposal for enhancement of the limit as he told me that he wanted to expand the business on large scale and had secured contacts from some reputed Batteries companies. There was full page impressive Advertisement in English edition of The Daily Tribune also. Next morning, KI Singh who was Manager Loans in the Regional Office came to my residence and told me that Sunil had met the Regional Manager and was asking for more Loan facilities and asked my opinion. I told him that he too had  been approached  but I told him that the unit was not working satisfactory. From his tone and the way he asked me I felt he was on some secret mission. At the end he, some how, disclosed that his visit was to know the position of the account and my attitude about the party.  On my next visit to the Unit I found that factory was closed. I again went to his residence to persuade them to run the factory but I was told that Sunil was out of station. I sent my other officers to the Unit and they also reported that the unit was locked and from the windows it appeared there was nothing in the factory. I immediately met the Regional Manager, PL Aggarwal and told him the position of the account. I was asked to file criminal case against Sunil and his mother who was also partner in the firm at Kharar court as the unit was at Mohali. One more criminal case was filed against the proprietors of a Poultry form unit at Chandigarh court which was made at the instance of Daler Singh. The borrower talked very sweetly but their eyes and talk looked very cunning He gave papers of Guarantor of agriculture land situated in Naringarh Tehsil of Ambala District. I personally went there for mutation of the land at the Tehsil Head Quarter at Naraingarh.  Initially the account was running satisfactory but subsequently it went bad because of the bad intention of the proprietors who had come from Greece  When Loan was financed after some days they brought some eggs for me and delivered them at my residence. Next time when the owner came I asked for the cost but was not ready to accept the cost. I transferred the approximate cost of the eggs to their account to debit of my Saving Fund account.

DN Dhawan was Accountant at Kashmee Gate, Delhi branch. Both the kidneys of his son who was Chief Marketing Executive in PUNSUP got damaged (renal failure). Dhawan got his one kidney transplanted to his son and since then he was working at B.O. Sector-16 on compensationate grounds to look after his son. Dhawan was perfect in the discharge of his duties and  was always active despite his problems. Due to the problem of his son some times he could not get sleep whole night but there was no sign of fatigue on his look when he was on duties. After one year his kidney was transplanted to his son, it was rejected by his (son) body and they were looking for another donor and in meanwhile he used to remain on dialysis and attend his normal duties. There was another transplantation of the kidney. This kidney also could not work more than one year and now again they were looking for another Donor. His company was footing all the medical expenses and they got registered for transplantation of kidney at USA and his Company deposited the amount of about 2 lacs there and was waiting for call from USA when suddenly one late night a kidney of the accidental man tallied with his blood and tissues and ding man relative agreed to donate the kidney but this transplantation proved to be fatal for his son. In those days, treatment of the renal failure and dialysis was not in advance stage and it was available only at PGI.  After the death of his son he went back to his parent branch, Kashmeree Gate,Delhi.

Blue eyed OP.Arora was Assistant Manager in my office and was looking after the branch whenever I used to move out of the branch. He usually used to talk about the problem of his sister who was living with him along with his widow mother. I used to council him and take care of his personal problems also. He was called for interview for Scale II Manager but was not selected. The very next day when I came to know of his rejection I telephoned Amarjit, my Regional Manager that it was not fair to reject my Assistant Manager. I told him non selection of Arora was my rejection as the person who was managing the affairs of office in my absence. Amarjit told me that he could not fair well in the interview but assured me that he would try to get him in the selected list. Ultimately he succeeded to get him in the selected list. Arora was very happy and was thankful to me for getting him approved for Scale II. This development was in  the knowledge of all the members of my staff. I had completed over 5 years at Chandigarh. More so branch was still to be upgraded for ‘A’ Graded.

I received my transfer orders for Phagwara G.T.Raod. After receiving the transfer orders I requested the Regional Manager, PL Aggarwal and Zonal Manger, HC Nakra for my relieving as I always have the feeling that when one is transferred he should join his new office at the earliest.  Normally, one looses that very effectiveness in management and development of the office after the transfer orders are received.’ Both, the Regional Manager and Zonal Manager told me that they did not have a suitable substitute for the branch for the time being. They told me that till they get some suitable substitute I would have to continue. Two months had passed and still they could not decide my substitute. One day, I suggested them the name of OP Arora (of my office) who was approved as Scale II Manager. They did not agree to my proposal, telling that he was not competent to handle such a big branch. As I wanted to get my self relieved at the earliest, I told them that Arora was competent to run the office (though I knew he was a week person). I pleaded that Arora had been managing the office in my absence and it would not be difficult for him to handle the branch. Since they were not getting any other suitable substitute and on my persistent pleading the Zonal Manager ultimately agreed to post him as Branch Manager in my place. I was ‘A’ Grade (scale III) Manager but the branch was still to be upgraded).  After getting his orders, I started giving charge of the office to Arora and insisted for my relieving as Bank had already issued orders for Arora. It was month of December and there was Bank closing. Both, R.M. and Z.M. told me, that by my joining Phagwara at that stage I would not be able to do much at the new branch but I could be helpful to the Region in the closing as the Region was still short of targets. They assured me that I would be relieved immediately after the closing. As I had worked for more then five years in the branch I had to submit to their wishes. (I joined the branch as an officer-in-charge and was promoted ‘B’ grade (scale II) and ‘A’ Grade (scale III) and matching up-gradation of the branch was also done).

Aggarwal told me that the Region was still not close to its targets in respect of deposits and that was his first closing after his taking over charge of the Region as Regional Manager. He requested me that I should move in the field and tap institutional deposits as I had good liaison with the Institutions. I started moving to different institutions for securing the deposit taking along Arora. I was introducing Arora as my successor to the different heads of the Institutions while asking for the deposits. There was a question mark from most of the institutions ‘when I was leaving the branch why they should give deposit to the branch’. I tried to convince them that Arora would be giving the same service to them. As they were not must impressed, I had to tell them that if they wanted me to continue here they should help me by giving the deposits. This plea had some effects and we could get some deposits though not to the desired extent. This process continued till the closing. The closing was approaching.

One day, I again met Nakara and told him that the branch had achieved its targets and now I be relieved. Suddenly Nakara asked me, if there was some thing wrong in my branch. I told him that the branch was running smoothly as usual. Smelling from his tone that there might be some thing wrong which was not to my knowledge, I asked him,  was there  any complaint. He replied in affirmation and I asked him if I could see the complaint but he did not show the complaint. Instead he called Aggarwal on phone in his cabin and in his presence he asked me a few questions. Was there Sandal and (Mrs.) Sandhu in my office and did I issue memo to Sandal? I replied in affirmation. He told me that the complaint was with Aggarwal and he would talk to me. After the meeting I came out of his cabin with Aggarwal and we went to his cabin. I requested Aggarwal to show me the complaint but he was not prepared either to show me the complaint or to disclose its contents, though I had personal relations with him. He simply told me that the complaint was from the Employees Union.  I was very much disheartened to know that there was a complaint when I was leaving the branch and had very cordial relations with all my colleagues. It was beyond my comprehension to see the attitude of Aggarwal and Nakra. It was very strange that I could see neither the complaint nor could know its contents. I was very much disturbed over the situation. I could not sleep that night and did scanning of each and every member of my staff who could be the complainant. I scanned from peon to the sub-manager. I even scanned my closest man in the office. Ultimately I came to conclusion that it could be Arora only, as I was taking Arora to different Corporations and was telling  them that if they wanted my stay there they should give me the deposits and Arora might have been instigated by some one and taken it seriously even though with a little common sense he would have known that I had already served the branch for about five years and I could not stay any more at-least in that branch and more so when he knew that I was interested to go. Though I could not see the complaint or its contents but I assumed firm feelings that that Arora has been used by Aggarwal and Arun , his son. The reason for inclusion of Aggarwal was that in one of the Manager’s meeting when my transfer orders for Phagwara were received he asked me that the deposit were not picking in the same pace as it used to. I told him in the meeting that when I was under transfer there could not be that effectiveness and added that I was not getting that much support form his office which I used to get. He might have taken ill of it. Further, I was residing in 1 Kanal Bungalow while he was still living in 14 Marla house even after assuming the charge of Regional Manager. This was neither palatable to him nor to members of his family. Arun, his son was showing this feelings openly but he could take the things other way also when he knew that I was leaving Chandigarh.

As Aggarwal was very close to me and I knew his strong revengeful temperament. Once, when he was AR.M. he had some misunderstanding with MC Gulati, the SSI Officer. Despite Gulati’s humbleness and his expressing regrets for thing he had done wrong knowingly or unknowingly he never forgave him and wanted to teach him a lesson and expressed his determination to spoil his career.  As I was friend of both, once I told Aggarwal to forgive him and forget but he told me that he could not do that. He said, ‘a friend of friend was always friend but friend of enemy was always enemy’. At this, I reminded him that I had been his friend as well as that of Gulati and was keeping the balance. He told me, ‘I wish I could be Sethi but I cannot become Sethi’.

Following day, I went to Nakara and told him that it was my feeling that that complaint was made by Arora. On hearing this Nakra, who used to give me full regards, was fumed and asked me in a rough tone, what proof I had got. I had no reply but I felt very much humiliated and embarrassed, the way he asked me. It was easy to prove a murder but not the anonymous complaint ( which I had not seen even). I became under heavy strains, how to prove this impossible thing. On reaching my office I called ML Goel, one of the Accountants and told him about the complaint and also told him that after scanning each employee of our office I had come to the conclusion that that complaint had been made by Arora. He did not agree. He told me that Arora had always been respectful and faithful to me and I had been helping him in his family problems also and above all he was under my obligation, firstly, for getting him approved as  Scale II especially when he was not approved and secondly, for getting him posted in this prestigious office as Manager.  I told Goel that despite all that that nefarious action had been done by him.  I asked Goel if he could do one thing for me. I told him that he should accompany Arora when he would leave the office and on his way to his house he should put the following words in his mind: ‘though Sethi was very nice to everyone but he was dangerous too if any one ventures to do wrong to him’. I also told him to tell him tell one factious incidence of Yamuna Nagar: ‘when one of employees tried to harm him and he took him to such an extend that that man had to resign’. When Arora was to leave the office he came to say me good bye and Goel also stepped in my cabin asking for my permission to go earlier as he wanted to go to his sister’s house.  They bade me good bye  and left. On the way Goel told Arora as I planned. Arora replied that he was already aware this temperament of mine. Next morning when Arora came to wish me and told me that he could not sleep the previous night and was very much disturbed. I asked him if any thing was wrong in his family. He told me there was nothing of that sort. I did not ask him anything more and allowed him to go to his seat. When Goel came he told me what transpired previous night between them and gave his firm opinion that the complaint had not been  made by Arora. In the evening I detained my entire staff for a meeting. Before the meeting was to start I called Goel in my cabin and told him that he should observe Arora in the meeting when I would be addressing the members of staff. In the meeting I narrated how much we had expanded during the past five years and acknowledged that that all was due to their co-operation. I also acknowledged that we had been working as one family and there had been no problem which we could solve. I further acknowledged that they had been treating me as their elder in this family. I told them it was unfortunate when I was leaving this branch, a sad incidence had happened. I told them that there was a complaint from the Employees Union against the office. When I uttered ‘Employees Union’, the members of the Employees Union sprang up in range and told me in one voice that that their Union could not do that nefarious thing. I pacified them and told them that I was confident that that complaint was not made by the Union but its  ‘letter pad’ had been misused by some one. I told them that I was aware who had made that complaint.  I further told them that the complaint was very close friend of mine and was sitting in this  gathering. Anxiety to know the name was natural but I calmed them by saying ‘wait’. After the meeting was disbursed and I left to my cabin, all most all the employees except Arora came to my cabin to know who the complainant was and what the contents of the complaint were. I told them that they would know of the things  gradually. All left. Goel came in the last to tell me that he still did not agree with my observations.

Once, I had invited SY Quaraishi IAS, Director, Institutional Finance, Haryana at dinner and incidentally I had to go Zonal Office during the day. When the Z.M. saw me in his office he called me in his cabin and wanted me to meet one important man (name I cannot recall) in the evening but I told him that I might not be able to go as I had invited Quaraishi for dinner. When he heard the name of Quaraishi he told me that he had been trying to meet him but he was not giving him time. He told me that I should arrange that dinner at his residence. I told him that it looked very odd if tell him to come for dinner at his residence instead of mine. Nakra was adamant and he insisted that I should talk to him on phone from his table. Reluctantly, I had to talk to Quaraishi that my Zonal Manager wanted that he should have the dinner at his residence. He was reluctant and told me that that was my personal invitation and not official. Nakra took the phone from me and requested him and insisted that he had to take dinner with him as that was his right as Sethi was younger to him. Initially, he was reluctant but ultimately he agreed. Nakra gave him his address. Quaraishi then wanted to talk to me. After getting me, he showed his displeasure for diverted the dinner. I expressed my regrets and told him that as Nakra was my senior and he wanted to take that privilege. Nakra was very sweet in his talk but he was not clear at heart. Though the dinner was arranged at his residence but I was not invited. It was around 9.00 P.M. after taking my dinner when I was going to my bed Aggarwal came to me looking much worried and told me that Quaraishi had not reached Nakra’s place so far. He told me that I should contact him on phone. As desired by him I contacted Quaraishi and while responding he expressed his regrets that he had been delayed as some guest had come and told me that he would be leaving shortly. (Quaraishi later became Chief Secretary, Haryana and Election Commissioner & Chief Election Commissioner of India).

Accordingly, I told Aggarwal. Then Aggarwal told me that I should accompany him to Nakra’s house. I told him that I already had taken my dinner and had changed my clothes but he insisted that Nakra had desired to bring me. I accompanied him in his car but did not take the dinner. Quaraishi was still to come when I reached Nakra’s place but he did not touched the point why I was not invited. After dinner when Aggarwal was coming to drop me at my residence on the way I asked him what were the contents the complaint but he avoided to tell me which was again a shock to me. I feel, in principle they should have given me the copy of the complaint and had asked for my comments. I could not understand what was in their mind and why they wanted to keep the complaint so secret when that was related to my office.

Nakra, was transferred to H.O. and KC Berry was to take over from him. When I came to know of his transfer I again met him with a request that I be relieved for Phagwara. He told me that he wanted to post one of his dear at Phagwara. (Later I came to know it was OP Gour who had worked with him when he was Sr. Regional Manager at Jallandhar but subsequently he got him posted at Nakodar when I had to be posted at Phagwara). He asked me if I would like to be posted at Yamuna Nagar or Panipat. I told him that I had no choice, he could post me any where he liked. He told me that Panipat was problematic branch and the routine had to be set in order but Yamuna Nagar was a good branch (probably he knew that I belong to Yamuna Nagar). I told him that ‘I have a firm belief : ‘if my days are good I will be able to give results where ever I am posted but if my days are not good I would be failure at the place my choice and may not be comfortable’. He told me that was why he wanted to post me at the place of my choice. When I gave no choice and I was to leave his cabin, he told me that I should consult  members of my family and tell him about their choice. I told him that my family too had no choice but he still insisted that I should consult my family members and tell him the following day. When I came out of his cabin Amarjit Singh who had been my Regional Manger met me out side his cabin. Singh had just come Chandigarh for a  few days after availing leave as he was to be posted at London.  I told Amarjit what Nakra had told me. He advised me that I should not talk to him on this issue and told me that he himself would talk to Nakra. At home I told my children that instead of Phagwara, Bank wanted to post me either at Yamuna Nagar or Panipat and Nakra wanted me to get their choice. The members of my family endorsed my view and told me that they too had no choice but at the same time they desired that let it be some  new station instead of Yamuna Nagar.

After a few days Nakra was relieved and there was farewell party at Zonal Training Center  Most of the officers were enjoying their drinks.  When one chair by my side fell vacant, Nakra came and sat by my side and after asking my welfare, he excitedly told me that he had issued my transfer orders for Yamuna Nagar. He was expecting that I would be happy to know that news but I told him politely that I never wanted to go to Yamuna Nagar. On hearing this he was very much disappointed and told me that now he had issued orders in my interest and was going. Observing that his feelings had been hurt to know this, I told him that though I never wanted to go there but I would take it in spirit that he had done a favour to me. He reminded me that he had told me that that I should have told him when he discussed with me last. I told him that Amarjit had told me when he met me after meeting him that I should not talk to you on this issue but instead he would talking. He told me that Amarjit might have forgotten. (Though I belonged to Yamuna Nagar but I never wanted to go there because I was expecting my next promotion and in that case I would again be shifted).  But to my surprise after a few days I received the orders for Phagwara instead of Yamuna Nagar. I feel he might have got changed my orders before leaving for Delhi but I was not to be relieved till further orders.

I had taken the adjoining building on rent just a month before I got my transfer orders for Phagawa and wanted to put it in use before I was to be relieved.  I sought guidance from Sharma, a retired Chief Architect of U.T. who was our customer also, how to remove the common wall so as to annex it with the main building. He told me that normally the Chandigarh Corporation did not give permission for the removal of the walls but since ours was Govt. financial institution, the corporation may consider it but it was a very lengthy  process. To make use of new building immediately he advised me that I may remove certain portion of wall at two three places in the banking hall just to give opening without seeking permission from the corporation and it would serve my purpose for the time being. He further advised that the ‘malba’ should not be exposed in the market. He helped me to get the labour for the purpose on contractual basis. I gave opening in the hall in such a way that the front door of the newly taken shop remained close and the existing opening in the hall should remain intact. The front opening was to be used as a passage and the other two openings were to be used for cashier and tellers cabins and like wise one opening at the first floor was sufficient where Day Book and loans were to be shifted. This removal and repair needed sufficient time as this repair work was to start after closing of the Banking hours. It required supervision.  As it was not one day job I did not ask anybody but instead I used to stay on after the banking hours. After a few days when ML Goel, accountant came to know that I was sitting late at night for the supervision, he told me that he would take care of that job and told me that I should go home. Unless I had to go some where I used to give him a company. Normally, the labour used to work from 6 to 9 P.M. on working days and for full day on Sundays and Holidays. I continued to work on the project despite I received my transfer orders as I was anxious to put the space into use before I was leave.

Despite I received transfer orders but I was not relieved. This suspense was not comfortable. Once I went to the house of Balramji Das Tandon ex- Industry Minister Punjab along with my friend ML Nayar ex-Secretary Punjab Khadi Board Punjab  He introduced me to Balramji and told him that I was transferred to Phagwara and he showed his desire that I should continue to remain here. But I told Tandon that I already had completed my tenure at Chandigarh and wanted to go Phagwara. Balramji told me that his nephew was also Manager in Central Bank of India at Phagwara and in case I needed any help he would take care of me and told me that he would tell him also. After a few days I went to Zonal Office and Beri, Zonal Manager when saw me in his office and he called me in his cabin and asked me, if I did not want to go Phagwara. He told me that he could cancel my orders. I told him that I wanted to go as I have already completed my tenure. He told me that Balramji had desired that I should be retained there. He further told me that he could accommodate me at Chandigarh.  I told him that it was nice of him but I wanted to go.  To convince me he stressed that Balramji Das was his class fellow and he was his very close friend but I thanked him and expressed my desire to go Phagwara.

I was very much disturbed the way Nakra said to me, ‘what proof I have got’ but I always remained composed as usual. My mind was hovering all the times how to prove that Arora was the complainant.  My mind was working non-stop on this issue even though I was doing my duties normally. At night when I lay on my bed I madly wanted confession from Arora. My thoughts were very aggressive and violent. To put pressure on Arora I wanted some how to arrange an empty pistol and put it on his temple to get his confession. It was just hollow thinking as arranging of a pistol could never be possible. Then I thought of the automatic big knife (Kamani wala Chaku) which I had brought from Rawalpindi (Pakistan) when I came from Pakistan and which was taken by Rakesh, my son to his factory. Now my mind started working on it in place of pistol. One  morning when I asked Rakesh about the knife he told me that that knife had been stolen from his factory. It was a much disappointed to know this. What was to be done and how was to be done, there was a constant pressure on my mind.

It was Thursday, 30th January, 1980 and it was holiday. I asked Goel and Arora to come to the office in the morning and called one peon also. I was leaving for the office with determined mind that I must get confession from Arora that day.  When I was leaving for my office suddenly I found a big tailoring scissors lying in the room. I picked up the scissors and put that in my brief case to use it as medium of coercion. When I reached office Goel and Arora were already there along with a peon. On reaching the office, I told Arora that though he had already taken charge of the office but certain items were still left to be handed over to him and the same were lying in the store upstairs. I told him that he should accompany me to first floor. We went upstairs and gave the keys to the peon to open the door. As he opened the door Arora told the peon to stay on if his help might be needed. I told the peon that he could go as there was nothing for him. I bolted the door from inside when he left.  Instead of taking Arora to store I took him to a room (earlier my drawing room) and abruptly I thundered with full force in my voice, ‘Arora you cannot escape now. You have made the complaint. You have seen my softness and now you will see my devil side also’. Arora was not expecting this situation he became little nervous and started pleading that he had not lodged the complaint. I asked him, ‘Do you think you can be fool me and escape from me’ I roared and said, ‘Arora I will tear you, perhaps you do not know how dangerous I am’. He told me that he was already indebted to me by getting so many favours and told me that his family members had also great regards for me. I told him that I knew that he and his family members had still great regard for me but told him with the same thunder that he still had lodged complaint in fit of frustration and warned him that I was not going to spare him. He went on pleading his innocence but when I told him firmly,‘Arora I have proof for that’. Abruptly he said ‘what proof I have got’. Now he had lost the ground. I busted, ‘Arora I will give you proof while kicking you on the road side in full view of the public and you will see my real face’  and pushed him back with full force. There upon, he put his head on my feet and told me that I should forgive him and he confessed that he had committed that blunder. I gave him a sheet of paper and told him to put it in writing. He told that he would not give me anything in writing. I roared again If I can get your confession I have power to get in writing also. I thundered, Now go away and see how I get in writing from you’. He again fell down on me feet and burst in tears and begged and said he be forgiven, he was like my son Rakesh. I assured him that I would try that he should not be harmed. But he told me that he would not be able to face the staff and the public.  I told him that I would try to help him to settle down There upon he told me that I might write whatever I wanted and he would sign. I told ‘Arora I am not a fool, I will not allow you type even I want the confession in your own handwriting’ Ultimately he confessed in writing and left the office without meeting Goel.

When I came down, I told Goel that Arora had confessed in writing but he could not believe it till he saw the confession letter and I told Goel that the confession should not be leaked out to any one as I was going from this place and things would settle down with the pace of time. Though I got the written confession from Arora my mind was sad and I was not having feeling of any triumph. I became under heavy stain how to save Arora from its consequences. It was must for me to obtain the letter of confession from Arora show it to Nakra because of his blunt saying but I was determined not handover it to anyone so that it might not be used as official document. I still had a hope that I would be able to manage his posting some where near Chandigarh, though he might loose his posting at the Sector-16 branch. On other hand it was fact that it was easier to get a confession of murder where some traces could be found but it was impossible to get a confession of the anonymous complaint where no trace was available. More over, when I never knew the contents of the complaint even.  When I burst at Arora: ‘I had a proof, it was just an hollow shout without any proof’.  Though I succeeded in my mission and the big tailoring scissors remained in tact in my brief case and my mind was feeling uncomfortable and dejected after getting the confession.

When I was pondering over the issue without disclosing it to the staff, a few days after, Amarjit came to my branch and I told him all about the complaint episode and the way Nakra asked me for the proof. When I told him that that complaint was made by Arora, Amarjit was taken aback. He could not believe when I told him that I had taken confession in writing from Arora. He eagerly asked for the letter of confession. I showed him the confession letter and told him that I did not want to misuse it against Arora. Confession it self was a punishment for him. I further expressed my feelings that I did not want any harm be done to Arora especially when I was going from this place. But Amarjit insisted that I should give him the confession letter and he told me that he would simply show it to Nakra and assured me that that letter would not be misused and the letter would be returned to me. I gave that letter to Amarjit and requested him that Arora should not be disturbed. After two or three days, Amarji sent that letter to me in a sealed cover through some one.

Arora went on leave after this incidence. My office was in dark about this development. After a few days I received a telegram from the Head Office stating, Ask Sethi to take back charge from Arora’. Arora never came to office; instead he sent his letter of resignation to the Regional Office direct as told by the Staff Assistant of the Regional Office on telephone. I requested the R.O. not to accept his resignation and keep his letter of resignation pending till I revert back. On my part I sent ML Goel to his residence to prevail upon Arora to take back his letter of resignation and also conveyed him that I had requested the Regional Office not to take action on his letter and advised him though Goel that he should not take this drastic step. I conveyed him that I would try to get him suitable station for his posting. Arora told Goel that by his action he had degraded himself in his own eyes and would never be able to face the people, especially the staff. After Goel reported his failure I once again sent him to Arora with a request  to take the resignation back as it would prick my conscious also that he had to resign from the service because of me. Arora told Goel that he still had a great regards for me and further told him that that unfortunate incidence was blessing in disguise for him. He wanted to join business right from the beginning but he had to join the service and his in-laws had been insisting for a long time that he should leave the service and join them in the business. He told him that his in-laws had a good Timber Business at Pharganj, New Delhi but he would start his business independently. He told him that he would be meeting me personally also. My relieving again hanged.

I was having a very acute pain on the left side of my stomach. I went for check up to General Hospital and it was diagnosed ‘hernia’ and I was advised to get it operated immediately as it was in advance stage. When next day, I was to get admitted in the Hospital for the operation, I received a telephone call from Amarjit early in the morning. The call was from Muzaffer Nagar (U.P.) He told me that I should rush immediately with Mrs. MC Ghulati in my personal car as Gulati had met with a fatal accident near Muzaffer Nagar. Ghulati, the SSI officer the Regional Office was carrying Amarjit’s household luggage to Meerut in a car that morning. He also advised me that I should not disclose the news of death of Ghulati to his wife, Abha while bringing her. Immediately I got ready and took my wife along and went to Ghulati’s house in Sector-22 and told his wife that there was accident of Ghulati and he was admitted in the Hospital at Muzaffer Nagar but there was nothing serious. KI Singh from Regional Office and Mrs. Gulatis’s sister who was residing locally accompanied us.  I had a pain but the pain of the death of Ghulati was more sever. I drove the car from Chandigarh to Muzaffer Nagar nonstop and reached Muzaffer Nagar just before the dusk. His body was under the process of postmortem and what condition of Mrs. Ghulati would have been on seeing the crowd waiting for the dead body of her husband was matter of imagination. Other relatives of Ghulati had already reached there. The dead body of Ghulati was given very late at night by the Hospital and his body was taken to Rohtak at his parental house and we reached Rohtak after midnight.

After cremation next morning, we could start for Chandigarh to reach by evening. The pain in the stomach was intense. Next morning I got myself admitted for operation of ‘hernia’. On the first day all the pathological tests were completed. Though the operation was to be performed by one surgeon but all the four surgeons were present in the operation theater and were talking to me on various subjects. After some times I was told that the operation had been successful but I could never know when I was operated upon and by whom. I was given local anesthesia which was very rare in those days. I was required to be kept in the hospital for three days after the operation. The day after the operation OP Arora came to me in the hospital to inquire my health. I again persuaded Arora to take back his resignation and advised him to forget what had happened and advised him not to spoil his career, ‘Time is the best healer’. He told me that he had no courage to face the Public in general and the staff in particular. I told him that with the pace of time every thing would be forgotten and advised him that he should not take such drastic step for the sake of his mother and wife. He told me also that though he joined bank service but his interest was in business. For various reasons he could not do so. Nature and the situation had brought him to the point that he would be in a position to start his own business and his father-in-law would be helping him. He requested me that I should forgive him and give him the blessing so that he be successful in the business. He touched my feet. I said God bless you and told him to meet me off and on so as to know his welfare. He left never to meet me again though I tried to locate him in Pharganj Timber Market New Delhi twice but could not succeed. In the meanwhile ML Goel, Assistant Manager was transferred to Morni Hill.

On the third day when I was still to be discharged from the Hospital BD Sandal, accountant came to me in the hospital in the forenoon and delivered me a letter that I stand relieved from the branch for Phagwara. This was the way: I was relieved from the branch Sector-16 unceremoniously where I earned name, fame, appreciations, rewards and promotions and was still enjoying the parental affection of all my colleagues. This was the end of my successful journey at Chandigarh. 

Mass Loaning Function for Dairy at Village Khuda Lahora, (U.T),organised by the branch. O.P. Gupta, Chairman & MD presided over the function & Mallick, Depity Comissioner, Chandigarh as Chief Guest. Amarjit Singh Regional Manager is also present.
O.P.Gupta, Chairman & MD visited Kalima Chemical unit finance by the branch. K.C. Mehra, General Manager, K.C.Bery, Zonal Manager & MC. Guliti, SSIO  are in the scene.

 

 

 

Mass Loaning function organised by the branch to finance Rehri Wala. Dr. Kalhon, Director of the bank presided over the function. VP Amar, Regional Manager is also present.
V.P. Amar with the branch staff at Deposit Mobilisation week.
V.P.Amar, Regional Manager  with the branch staff at Deposit Mobilisation week.

                     

                                                              

O.P. Gupta, Chairman & MD giving token gift for best performance at staff meeting of the branch.
Loan for new venture under self employed scheme to Col. Sahni for conversation of Petrol Matador to diesel.
With the staff at Rose Garden on Saturday after Banking hours. S.N.Gupta, Chief Personal, H.O. New Delhi & V.P. Amar, Regional Manager in the center.
Mass Loaning Function for weaker section of sociley at Sector-25 organised by the branch. T.R. Tuli, Chairman & MD being received. R.L. Prabhakar Principal, New Bank of India accompanied him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First prize (Philips Record Player) got standing first in Deposit Mobilisation.
Best branch Award. Philips’s Record played being given by H.C.Nackra, Zonal Manager.
T.N.Chaturvedi, Chief Commissioner, Chandigarh (UT) distributing the loans to the weaker section. Mass Loaning function organised by the branch at                               Sector-25
T.R.Tuli, Chairman addresses at the mass loaning function organised by the branch.

CHAPTER-6 PHAGWARA- NAGPUR

So this was the way in which I was relieved unceremoniously from B.O. Sector-16 Chandigarh.  For getting myself relieved I had been struggling for many months after the receipt of my transfer orders for Phagwara but I was destined to see many unsavory incidences in between. After I was discharged from the hospital, immediately on reaching home I wrote letter to Aggarwal, in anguish. I wrote one letter to Harish Nakra who was D.G.M. at Head Office  and was my Zonal Manager at Chandigarh and sought his permission to meet him personally to explain my position and wrote him that ‘some times fictions are stranger than the facts’. I was aware of Aggarwal’s temperament that he could stoop  to any extend to damage my reputations by telling wrong and factious stories against me. I also knew  very well that normally the Senior Officers never cross check the facts. Nakra had very high opinion about me before the managed complaint. Aggarwal was successful in changing former’s attitude. I could not digest how a Senior Officers could keep the complaint against any office secret from its manager and even conceal the contents of the complaint and  did not even ask for the comments of the manager. Nakra’s attitude was sufficient indication when he rudely asked me ‘what proof I have got’ when I told him that the complaint had been made by Arora. He never bothered to discuss with me what was wrong in my office or with me. I could not understand the morality in forcing me to get the dinner changed to his residence  which I  was hoisting to Quraishi at my residence?  Why he did not invite me to the dinner which infect was  managed by me. After operation, even though I could not walk properly I went to his residence at the first floor in New Delhi to see him but he was a biased man. Whatever I wanted to tell him, I told him but he did not bothered to cross examine me. Ultimately I left his residence frustrated after taking tea.

After the operation, I could walk with difficulties and the Doctor was against my joining of duties at Phagwara and I had to extend my leave for another week (for one week I was already on leave after the operation). I still decided to visit Phagwara office during the leave before my joining.  I went to Phagwara branch and met each member of the staff at his seat telling: I was his new colleague and would be joining on the coming Monday.  They were having the notion that I was not interested to join Phagwara. I assured them that I was very much interested to join them at the earliest but could not get myself relieved.  Lalit Aggarwal was sent from Jallandher to get BL Raheja , the Manager relieved as I was not joining the branch. Raheja was transferred to Regional Office, Jalandhar as Assistant Regional Manager. After brief meeting with the staff I returned Chandigarh.

After expiry of my leave, I joined G.T.Road Phagwara branch as Manager A Grade (Scale III)  some times in February/March,1980. There were many banks but Punjab National Bank, G.T. Road was considered to be the biggest bank of the town. There was another branch of the Punjab National Bank at Banga Road. The branch had a very big building. On ground floor there was very spacious hall with one big room and the mezzanine. The height of the hall must be over 20 feet. The Manager’s residence was just behind the bank premises with independent entrance from the side lane. The Manager Residence had three bed rooms, drawing room, store and big court yard. The first floor was occupied by Shashi Aggarwal, an Advocate for his residence. On the second floor, the front portion was occupied by Life Insurance Corporation for its office and the other portion was occupied by SLBhagat Income Tax Officer for his residence.  All had their entrance from the adjoining Lane.

As the Manager’s residence was vacant I shifted my family to Phagwara immediately. Rakesh, my son, also accompanied us, but he left after two days for Chandigarh  This was the first occasion when any of my children was separated from the family.  I wept when he left but he was unmindful. After settling down I sent Nirmal for a few days to Chandigarh to see if Rakesh had settled down without us but it was felt that he did not want to utilise her help and ultimately she had to come back. Rekha, my daughter, had already completed her post graduation in Political Science. She got service in a private School, Adarsh Model School which was just opposite to our bank. Salary was not the consideration but it was necessary that she should keep herself busy. Renu, my second daughter had done her graduation and she started preparation for M.A. (English) with some private coaching. Rajeev got admission in Guru Nanak Khalsa College and Ravi got admission in JCT primary School. Promilla, sister of Nirmal was staying with us after getting her divorce.

In the morning there used to be a great rush at the gate before the doors of the Bank were opened for the customers.  Immediately after opening of the gate the customers used to rush to the Manager’s cabin which was on the left corner of the Hall and they used to surround the Manager. The Manager was required to fill the pay-in-slips and withdrawal forms of customers even though a clerk was sitting on the inquiry counter just out side his cabin for the purpose. Normally the number of costumers used to be 10 to 15. The Manager’ cabin was very small. The mightier persons used to manage to enter the cabin first by pushing back the others and the other would also enter like wise when the earlier had come out. Normally there used to be no customers on the counter or in the Hall for the first half-an-hour. While Pushap Raj Aggarwal, the Sub-Manager (Scale II) in- charge of Hall, was seen enjoying his smoking while sitting just adjoining to the Manager’s cabin. For about one week I was filling the forms and it used to take an hour to clear the rush.

The office had one steno, Garcha who used to enter my cabin when I was free from the customers just to ask me if I had anything to dictate him. As I was new, I had little to dictate him and then he would be either roaming in the hall or would be sitting beside some body for gossiping.  As per settlement the stenos would neither do the clerical work nor would type any thing other than the dictation. After one week when Garcha came to me as usual, I told him to sit down and asked him why the customers rushes to the Manager for filling the forms in the morning when there was a clerk sitting on the inquiry seat for that very purpose. Garcha told me that most of these customers are from the surrounding villages and they trust the Manager only. Then I asked him if he could help me in the morning. Since I was new, as a gesture of good will he agreed to sit with me in the morning for filling the forms. Now there was Garcha to share my burden in the morning but still it used to take 30 to 45 minutes to clear the rush. There was one SSI Officer, Bhatti and one Agriculture Officer, Angrush.  I called them separately and asked them if they could help me for 20 to 30 minutes in the morning for filling the forms and both of them gladly agreed.

When the doors of the Bank were just opened Garcha, Bhatti, and Angrush, would come near the Inquiry seat which was just out side my cabin and I also used to come out of my cabin and would stand by them. Now there were four persons to fill the form besides me. I was out side my cabin to receive the customers and asking them what their work was.  Now, my job was to take their Pass Books and to distribute them to Garcha, Bhatti, and Angrush and to the Inquiry clerk to fill the forms. The customers were for withdrawal of the money, for deposit of the Cash or for deposit of the Foreign drafts and for filling of the purpose form. (It was statutory requirement to fill the prescribed purpose form for all the inward remittances). Now, I was not filling any form  but was getting it done from the four assistants standing beside me at the Inquiry Counter. In this way, we could manage to clear the Customers within 15 minutes.  Now Tellers, Cashiers and the concerned officers started getting the work at their counters right in the morning which otherwise used to remain vacant. The customers were also happy as they did not have to wait much. In this way an hour rush was reduced to 15 minutes only.  The officials deputed on this job had to put only 10 to 15 minutes in the morning which was not much burden on them.

After taking over the charge of the office I was supposed to submit my charge taking report within a week of my joining. I submitted a brief charge taking report ‘charge taken subject to the eradication of the anomalies pointed out in the last Inspection Report and physical checking of the stock would be done gradually’. Knowing very well that the physical checking of the stock was never practical in a short period, especially when the numbers of the units were many but the bank wanted the certificate that the entire stocks have been checked. All most all the godowns were visited except that of Grehwal Rice Mill which was at village Kot Grehwal over 15 miles away from the city. In between, I went to Jalandhar to see the Regional Manager, Sarwan Singh Dahiya as it was customary.

After taking over the charge of the office, I analysed the patron of the deposit under differed heads for the last two years and stated maintaining of dairy to watch the progress under different heads and to work out the future strategy. Every week I used to make entry with my own hand either from the General Ledger or from Weekly Statement of affairs. I found that the increment in the deposit was seasonal and the main source of the deposit was from the NRIs which showed increasing trend during the months from October to January. I found there was no dearth of deposit and other business. The improvement in the customer service was the only need. I got demolished my cabin from the hall and shifted my seat in the room which was used by Loans and day book  I shifted them to the mezzanine. I shifted the seat of sub-Manger in the Center of the Hall. I got prepared low counter with four seats meant for inquiry,  the foreign exchange and fixed deposit. The officer of the department was to sit with its clerk on the counter to eliminate the assistance of the peon. This seating arrangement instilled more confidence in the customers also as their work was being done before them. Further, I got fitted electric call bells with coloured bulb out side the cabin of the cashiers and the tellers so that when they need the services of the peon they should  push the bell button for quick movement of the vouchers. In this way the work load of the peons was also reduced. I told the peons that their work load had been reduced and their duty was that they should keep an eye on the customers and take the wondering customers to the respective seats after knowing their problems.  They were also told specifically to keep their eye on the main gate and when ever they find any NRI enter the branch they should bring him to my room.

I submitted a proposal to The Regional Office for the installation of the intercom with six connections but the Regional Office rejected the proposal saying there was no need of the intercom in my office. Further they added that even in their office, there were two connections and hence there is no justification for six connections in the branch. (The Regional Office had two intercom connections, one was at the table of the Regional Manager and the other was at the table of the Assistant Regional Manager in the Hall). I again made out a case that the installation of the intercom would help to improve the customer service. At least three intercom be sanctioned, one for the Manager cabin, one for the hall and other for the loans department which was shifted on the mezzanine but permission for the wiring of the six connection be given as with the expansion of the business when the branch would be in need of more intercoms, the wiring of the three connections would be a waste but wiring the six lines now would save further expenditure on rewiring. Ultimately they gave me the sanction the way I wanted. With the installation of the three intercoms and wiring of the six lines, I purchased three more instruments gradually within my own power and put intercoms one each with the sub-manager(Scale-II), head cashier, foreign exchange/fixed deposit seat and Loans/day-book and with the canteen contractor. Subsequently one of the officials the Regional Office on his visit objected that the installation of six intercoms and I told him that there was no contravention of the Regional Office sanction and gave justification that it was as per the sanction of the Regional Office. The three intercoms  subsequently I purchased were within my financial powers. Now again with the installation of the intercoms it not only reduced the dependence on the peons but it increased the efficiency. Now, there was direct communication with each department. The peons were motivated to help the customers in getting their work done from the different departments. The peons were also very happy and were feeling elevated.

My room was very specious and I needed a small space for my table and three chairs.  I put a few sofas and central table for the customers in the room and also shifted steno table in one corner of the room. I told Garcha, my steno, that since he was free most of the time  he should help the NRI customers. Garcha was very co-operative. He used to receive the NRI customers and get them seated on the sofa and would ask for their requirements. If the customer had foreign draft he would fill the form while sitting beside him on the sofa and would get him the receipt and if  completion of the pass book was needed, he would get it done. The NRI customers were not required to move from one table to the other but they started getting the service while seating on the sofa in my room. Before the NRI was to leave,  Garcha used to ask them if they wanted to exchange the currency. Most of the customers were not aware if the currency could be got exchanged here. For this purpose they used to go to Jalandhar. After knowing that they could get this service at the branch, on number of occasion, they would take out more drafts from their pockets which were kept with them for depositing them at Jallandhar. This service helped us tremendously to increase in the fixed deposit portfolio

Practically, before my coming, the administration of the office was run by Raj Kapur and Tushan Kumar, the Union Leaders. Raj Kapur was the President of the Employees Union and Tushan Kumar was the Secretary. The Manager was just a dummy figure.  Even the customers never approached the Manager for the sanction of the Over Draft when they needed. The over draft register was sent to the Manager just for his signatures. Two days after my joining a peon brought me the over draft register with a cheque issued by Shree Guru Nanak Cold Storage and told me to sign. I took the register from the peon and told him to send the customer in my cabin. When Gurmesh Chadha, the customer, came, I offered him the seat and asked his name and the nature of his business and how the business was going on and how he was feeling while dealing with us and talked on some other social matters without asking any thing about the overdraft: what for he needed and when he would be adjusting. Further I expressed my pleasure in meeting him and requested him to meet me occasionally.  Before Gurmesh was to leave my cabin I hard signed the Over draft register in his presence.  We talked for about half an hour. When Chadha came out of my cabin there was a satirical shout from Tushan or from Raj Kapur in the Hall, Mill aiy ho’. Chadha must have told the leaders the topic on which we talked and he might have given his impression he perceived about me. There was no further hostile talk in the Hall.

The names I remember with whom I had worked in this office are: Pushap Raj Aggarwal, DL Jain (Sub-Managers), SS Sijjar (Assistant Manager), Susheel Kumar, P.S.Saini, DP Puri, Trehan (Accountants) PL Madan, SK Gupta (Special Assistants), Raj Kapur, Tushan Kumar, Bhupinder Walia, Bhargav, Khosla, Mahai, Ashwani Kumar, Parmod Sharma, Bhupinder Gandhi, Avdesh Aggarwal, HS Kanwar, Surinder Singh, Vinod Sharma, Manan (clerks), Rana (Godown Keeper) Garcha (Steno).To me they all were respectful though each was differed in temperament and in efficiency and devotion. Every one played very important role in my achievements but of all DL Jain was most intelligent and devoted, Raj Kapur was very social, Bhupinder Walia was laborious SS Sijjar ( retired as SRM) was knowledgeable.

Within a few months of my joining I received an interview call for the ‘AA’ Manager (empanelled cadre) and when the result came I was selected also, might be  on the basis of my performance at my previous branch Sector-16 Chandigarh and it was expected that I might be posted as Assistant Regional Manager at the point of need. But in the month of October 1981 I received a Charge Sheet dated 26-9-1981 from the Assistant General Manager (P), H.O. the disciplinary Authority on the basis of the some irregularities allegedly committed by me at the B.O. Chandigarh Sector-16. The facts in the charges were either distorted or extraneous matter was brought in with a deliberate attempt to implicate me and to harm me, at the recommendations of PL Aggarwal, the Regional Manager, Chandigarh who had a very strong revengeful nature. I knew it when he was very close to me. To harass me, he conveyed me some times back through one of our common friends telling that Saanp ka Maria Bach sakta hai par baniya da Maria pani bhi nahi mang sakda.’ I also conveyed him through the same friend to tell him, ‘Aggarwal Sahib ko Keh do ki agar mot app key hath se hai to koi bacha nai sakta, par marne se pehle mai bhi maroonga naheen. I will fight to the last. I also knew that he could damage to me to any extent for which I was mentally prepared. My conscious was clear and I had a great moral strength. Whatever, legally or illegally he could do he was doing. He did not even  provided me  the documents on which the charges were framed despite my written request. He had his worst as he was close to Aschraj Lal Budhiraja, the Chief Inspection (in those the Chiefs used to be the sole in-charges of the departments/divisions). He misused him to maximum at all level at the Head Office. The Charge sheet was issued under major mis-conduct for which inquiry was necessary but he did not allow the inquiry despite my request.  The main charge in the charge sheet was the account of the Paulson Batteries for which I my self had submitted facts to the Regional Office but he was successful in mis-representing the facts. For me the court was the alternative for which I had no resources. However, I submitted my reply to the charge-sheet. Later I was told by a friend working in the Regional Office, Chandigarh that Suneel Sharma of  Paulson Batteries once met Aggarwal and offered him to adjust his account but he told him that he was not interested in recovery of the bank money but he was interested to get Sethi punished at all cost.

When I was manager at Sector-16, Chandigarh the bank permitted me to file two criminal cases one at Chandigarh of Poultry Form Loan of one Sardar ji who had migrated from Greece and the other of Paulson Batteries at Kharar. Almost every month I was required to appear in the courts for one case or the other as I was the complainant on behalf of the Bank. I used to go Chandigarh by my own car and used to submit my T.A.Bill to my Regional Manager Jalandhar, but Aggarwal had already made Dahiya, The Regional Manager, Jalandhar biased against me. He did not pass my T.A.Bills and I continued to draw the amount from the suspense account. The Regional Manager was stressing that I should adjust the Suspense entries and in reply I was requesting him to pass my T.A.Bills as per Bank rules so that the Suspense entries could be adjusted. Once, The Regional Office told me that I could not go by my own car and instead I should go by bus.  I submitted a comparative chart that if I go by train in I class for which I was entitled the amount of the T.A/ D.A will be more then by going in my car, the bank was not only saving  the cost but also was saving the number of days I would have to be absent from the office. Moreover, as per my status, I could not be asked to go by Bus. There was no reply for that from the Regional Office but they did not pass the T.A.bills and the Suspense entries piled up. Subsequently The Regional Manager, Jalandhar told me that it was not necessary for me to attend the court on all the dates. I asked him to give me in writing and if my absence affects the case, it would be at his risk and responsibility and further asked him to get a clarification from the Bank’s legal Council. They did try but the Bank Council told them that the presence of Sethi was must as he was the complainant on behalf of the bank and the court could dismiss the cases if he abstained. The Regional Office never wanted me to attend the court on the dates but he was helpless to give me in writing as per Bank’s  council’s advice.

I was supposed to go to Chandigarh Sector-16 branch before attending the Court to take the representative of the branch and the relative record. Sharma, the Special Assistant disclosed me that there was one complaint against me and an inquiry officer from H.O. came and talked to the Staff whether I was financing to the R.S.S. people and was taking money for the sanction of the Loans. Sharma was Trade Union leader and congress leader (he used to up and down from Ambala). Sharma told me that these questions were asked to him also by the inquiry officer. Sharma told me that he told the inquiry officer that they did not know whether he was R.S.S. man or not but he was a very good Manager. Sharma told me that when he asked about the taking of the money he directed him to one of the borrowers who was incidentally sitting in the office. He inquired from him (the borrower). The borrower told him that the Manager (I) was perfect gentleman and offered him that he could take him (the inquiry officer) to the industrial area and he could talk to all  other borrowers there.  Incidentally two more borrowers came there in the mean while and he got them introduced to him. The inquiry officier did not go to the Industrial Area after the statement of those borrowers and said it was sufficient. What were the contents of the complaint and what was his finding I could never know as I never received any letter from the authorities. This complaint too was also managed by Aggarwal who had put all his energies to damage my hard earned image at the branch.

My brother Vijay was in service with Shree Ram Chemical at Kota. His wife was expecting delivery. Though my mother was with them but because of her old age and fracture in her arm, Vijay’s wife (Vijay) wanted that Nirmal (my wife) should be present at the time of the delivery and she should be called from Phagwara. I received urgent telegram from Vijay and sent Nirmal from Jalandhar by the earliest available train to Kota. The day she reached Nikhil was born (12.03.81).

One late night Grewal of Grewal Rice Mill came to my residence and told me that the Bank’s stocks were in tact and I should give the certificate to this effect. I could not understand what he meant and what for he was asking at that odd hours.  I told him that I would be coming to his mill on the coming day and would see the stock and then give him the required certificate. Next morning, when I woke up in the morning, there was big news on the front page of a vernacular Paper ‘The Food Corporation of India cheated by Grewal Rice Mill.’ After reading the news, I was disturbed as I never had checked the entire stock nor it was possible to check the entire stock in the godown as there were thousands of bags in the Godown and it was not practicable to check each bag unless the entire stock was taken out. More over, the movement of stock was done in presence of the Godown-Keeper, Rana. I immediately rushed to Kot Grewal taking Raj Kapur with me and leaving a massage for Rana, Godown Keeper to reach Kot Grehwal. When I reached the Mill the entire stock, bags of the paddy and rice were lying in the open compound. The Police and the FCI officials were already there and they were checking all the bags. Grewal’s had put all the stocks of FCI which had come for milling in the Bank’s Godown which was under Bank’s lock and keys and was availing the full limit. They had already broken the locks of the Godown. There were few bags on which FCI marking was there and the Police segregated those bags. There were many bags which were filled with husk only instead of rice or paddy. I was shocked that Grewals had cheated the Bank too. I was not sure what would happen.

By evening the Police declared that only a few hundred bags of paddy belonged to FCI, where as their stake was for the whole stock.  I immediately checked with the Grewals in whose name the building and the land of the mills belonged. I was told that the building and the land was in the personal name of Grewal. I immediately asked for their papers. Grewal did not want to fight on the two fronts and he wanted to co-operate with the Bank. The next day he gave me the papers but these could not be mortgaged to the bank without Income Tax Clearance as per Income Tax Law. Obtaining of the Income Tax clearance was not easy as told by our legal council. I met GL Bhagat ITO who was residing on the second floor where I was living and explained him my anxiety. Bhagat was the senior most Income Tax Officer at Phagwara. He assured me that he would give the clearance certificate just to help me so that I should not be put to any harm. On the coming day, I called Grewal and took him to the Income Tax Office. Bhagat helped me out of the way and arranged to give the clearance certificate after completing the necessary formalities. I felt a little safe. I got stacked all the bags, leaving bags of FCI marked and husk, in the Godown which took three four days and I got it locked which was subsequently sealed by the Police but never cohered the godown keeper Rana for his negligence.

I had taken maximum safeguards in the bank’s interest very quickly which I could and sent my report to the Regional Office. Immediate no further step was possible  as the matter was seized by the Police. In the meanwhile,  I received an urgent call from my brother Vijay from Delhi that my brother Inder was serious and was admitted in Irwin Hospital at Delhi.  I wanted to rush immediately but had no money. I requested Khullar of Glider Bush on phone: if he could send me Rs.5000/- as my brother was serious and was admitted in the Hospital.   Khullar himself came to deliver the money and to know about the condition of my brother. I immediacy rushed to Delhi by car leaving for the  Sub-Manager Darshan Lal Jain to attend to any quarry received from Regional office or from the Police. I sent my leave application to Regional Office explaining every thing. The Regional Office took serious view of my leaving the branch under such circumstances and they thought that I had left the branch just to escape from the responsibility.  They sent me a letter calling for my explanation at my Delhi address as given on my leave application.

When I reached Irwin Hospital Delhi I found the whole body of Inder was swollen. He met me  weeping bitterly. His both the kidneys had failed. I found that he was feeling that he had lost the battle of his life. I tried to console him by telling that there was nothing to worry, the Doctors of the Hospital were very capable and he would be cured very shortly.  I met his attending Doctors. There was little hope of his survival. The Doctor Gulati, in charge of the department told me that the transplantation of the kidney was the only alternative. He asked if we could arrange for the kidney. I told him that I was prepared to donate my kidney. At this, there was great opposition from my relatives especially from Sudesh w/o of Inder and my sister Nirmal that they did  not want to loose another brother. I told them that one could live full life with one kidney as I knew Dhawan, Accountant with me at B.O. 16-Chandigarh had donated one of his one kidneys  to his son and was living very healthy life. For the satisfaction of my relatives I brought Dhawan to the Hospital and introduced him to my relatives. He also assured them that nothing  was to harm me if I donate my one kidney but still they were not agreeable. I met Dr .Gulati and told him that he may get my blood and tissues checked in case these tally with Inder. While Inder’s pathological tests were  being done it was found that Liver of Inder was also damaged besides some other complications . The Doctor declared that there was no use of kidney transplantation even. He advised us that we may take the patient to home as there was little hope of his survival.

We sent a telegram to Kota telling my mother and Nirmal (my wife) to reach Delhi along with Vijay (Vijay’s wife) and Nikhil  as the condition of Inder was serious. On their arrival Vijay and Nikhil were sent to Malvia Nagar to her parent’s house. My mother and Nirmal reached massi Rampiari’s house at Darya Ganj. The burden of looking after of our whole family was on massi Rampiari as her residence was close to the Hospital. She was providing from break fast to dinner to all of us.

Some body advised us that there was ‘Baba ji’ at Mani Majra (Chandigarh) who could cure such cases. We rushed to Chandigarh with my brother Vijay and my son, Rakesh and met ‘Baba ji’. After listening the whole case, he assured us that the patient could be cured. He gave a long list of rare herbal medicines to be procured from Amritsar.  We three left for Amritsar and on the way we stopped at Phagwara. At the branch one of my colleagues (I think it was Raj Kapur) suggested me that I should wait there and he would go with Rakesh and Vijay to Amritsar as he was acquainted with the place where such medicines were available at Amritsar. I waited at Phagwara and On their return we again went back to Mani Majra (Chandigarh) to take Baba ji to Delhi.  We knew that it was hoping against hope but still expecting that some miracle might happen. We took ‘Baba ji’ to the Hospital showing as one of our relatives. He got Halva prepared with the herbs which was given to Inder but there was no relief.

Expecting, there would be huge expenditure Vijay got his PNB Saving Account transferred to Darya Ganj Delhi branch from Kota and gave me the authority to withdraw the amount from his account but I never needed to utilise this facility as he always was available whenever there was any need. Sudesh w/o Inder came to me and told me that she had some items of jewelry and told me to sell them and utilise the money for the treatment of Inder. I asked her, did she feel that we were lacking in his treatment. She told that she was satisfied but only wanted to contribute. She sent his brother-in-law Kapur (husband of her sister Nirmal) to give some money but I politely told him that I would definitely ask him when we needed.

As advised by the Doctors, we got Inder discharged from the hospital. On his birthday and as per his desire we took Inder to his sister-in-law, Nirmal’s house at Gandhi Nagar Delhi. He stayed there for a few days and then he desired that he be taken to his sister-in-law,  Motia’s house at Krishna Nagar. There too, he stayed for a few days and wished to be taken to our sister, Kamla’s house. We brought him to Kamla’s house at Karol Bagh.  One of the bank’s Loanee and my friend, Lala Balwant Rai Gupta came from Phagwara to Kamla’s house to see Inder. He suggested that his family ‘Hakim’ who was living at Karol Bagh for the consultation. We knew that there was least hope of his survival but thought what was wrong in consulting him. ‘Jab tak sans tab tak ass’. I accompanied Lala Balwant Rai to ‘Hakim ji’ and after understanding his condition, ‘Hakim ji’ told us that he can cure him after consulting his horoscope and advised us to bring his horoscope. His horoscope was at Mathura and I sent Sudesh to bring his horoscope. After seeing the horoscope of Inder he told us that he would give him the treatment and assured he would be all right. He took ‘Sankalap’ from Inder and started ‘Maha Mrituanjay Jaap’ and also started giving some medicines. There were some sign of improvement. 

Meanwhile I went to Chandigarh for a day to bring Nirmal who was to come from Phagwara. (Nirmal had gone Phagwara for a few days  after coming from Kota). Rekha was at Chandigarh to appear in Punjab University for improvement of her M.A result. On 01-05-81, before I could reach Chandigarh  the message that Inder had expired. (In the morning I came from Delhi only when Inder gave me his consent that I can go).I immediately contacted Phagwara branch to ascertain if my wife Nirmal had left for Chandigarh   I was told that she was already on her way to Chandigarh without knowing the death of Inder. I took Rekha from Chandigarh to intercept Nirmal at Samrala. Before we were to leave, JN Tikoo who was my Accountant at Yamuna Nagar when I was his clerk there and now  he was scale II Manager at B.O. Chandigarh Sector-17 came to give me some money as personal loan (the exact amount I don’t remember) when he came to know that my brother was serious and I was coming to Chandigarh.

We caught Nirmal (who was having ticket for Chandigarh) at Samrala Bus Stand and we left for Delhi from the side road via Ambala. We dropped Rekha at her Janak Massi’s house at Ambala and reached Delhi by night. Next morning his cremation was done at Panchkuina Road, New Delhi. Lala Balwant Rai Gupta came from Phagwara and told ‘Samapan of the Maha Mrituanjaya jaap’ had to be done’. The man who gave sankalp was no more.  Lala ji told me that he would get the ‘Samapan of the jaap; done. We all left Delhi for Mathura without Inder to perform his all rites at our native house. I expected that Inder’s friends and his employer would give some monetary help to family at ‘Rasam Pagri’ but none offered any financial help. Sardana, Chairman and M.D. of Jagjit  Starch Mills specially came Mathura from Phagwara to console us after the ‘Rasam Pagri.’ at our residence.

The coming time was very hard for Sudesh, Inder’s wife and her children Pappu (Umesh), Reena and Saurav as all of them were school going. There was no  source of income  to the family after Inder’s death. He was the only earning member in his family. Our financial condition was very weak. He had four brothers but none was financially so strong to be helping hand to the family  However, my brother Vijay started sending Rs.100/- p.m. continuously for one year. After ‘Bahamans’ on the 17th day we too left for Phagwara. Before leaving I ensured that there was enough kitchen material for them at least for the coming six months. Whatever a little amount was given by our relatives  was deposited in the Bank in the name of Sudesh. Sudesh had to work as helper with a pickle manufacturer which was adjoining to our house. I visited Mathura twice or thrice in the first year only to ensure that they have enough to eat. Her eldest brother Surinder was giving some financial help occasionally.

Inder was an ideal brother, very rare to be seen in any other families. He was very devoted to me. I can recall a few instances: When he was studying in ITI and after passing his ITI when I got him a job in ISGEC at Yamuna Nagar  he was living with me and  I was unmarried. He used to do all the domestic work and would never allow me to do any work. Right from the preparation of food, washing of clothes and ironing them and cleaning of the house etc was done by him. The only work he allowed me to do was chopping of the vegetables on Sundays and holidays. He  would never sit before me or face me. and there was no occasion when he argued with me. After my marriage Nirmal (my wife) suffered from T.B. (Tuberculosis). I never disclosed to my parental family. They knew only that she was ill for a long time. Inder was concerned about her health that even though he was at Mathura and we were at Yamuna Nagar he used to pray ‘Bhole Nath’ that when his ‘bharjiee’ would be alright he would bring her to Rangeshwar temple (Shiva temple) and distribute ‘Dal Roti’ to the beggars before His temple. When Nirmal went Mathura after she was cured he got made ‘rotis and dal’ from her and took her on his cycle to the temple and got these distributed among the beggars with her hands. So was his devotion to the family.  Inder was very fond of chewing petals. Once, when casually I asked him, ‘Inder, can’t you reduce the chewing of petals’. He immediately told me that ‘Bhapa ji’  that from  onward I would never take petal’. This incidence might be six seven years before his death but he kept his word and never chewed the petals again. Though this was a very small thing and my saying too was very casual and he could ignore my saying but he took my casual saying seriously and showed a very rare  sense of devotion and respect to his brother who was hardly five and half year older to him.

I was back to my duties at Phagwara and was again lost in my routine.  After a month or so, I sent Rs.2000/- in a sealed envelop to Bhullar as part amount of the loan of Rs.5000/- I had taken from him before leaving Phagwara for Delhi and sent slip with it that I would pay the balance next month but Bhulllar sent back the money  and told me on phone that I should not talk to him on this issue in future. Lala Balwant Rai had spent some money on medicines and in connection with ‘Mahamarituanjya Jaap’ he too refused to take money. When I reached Phagwara Kainth of Kainth Iron works sent Rs.1000/- to me through his Manager Kalia as a token of help but I declined to accept the money politely. Kalia showed his concern about my brother’s family and suggested number of self employed jobs for Sudesh but those were not practicable for Sudesh to do. I was thankful to kalia for showing concern to my family problems.

On my return, I sent the progress report of Grewal Rice Mills enumerating the steps taken by me but the Regional office was not satisfied. Regional Office deputed Chopra, a very shrewd officer to inquire deeply in to the case vis -a- vis my role in it. Chopra was very close man of  Dahiya, Regional Manager and wanted him to write against me. It was known that he was normally used  by Dahiya to write against the manager when he was sent for some inquiry.  Some how Chopra leaked Dahiya’s intention to me in confidence. I satisfied Chopra that an ordinary manager would not have managed the things in a way I could. He had to give factual report the Regional Manager and Dahiya could not succeed in his nefarious designs.  I knew very well that Aggarwal was still trying to put me in the doom.

Due to the death of my brother Inder, I made a request to the Disciplinary Authority for extension of the time for submitting my explanations, after submitting the initial reply and demanded copies of the documents on which the charges were framed. Though they gave me the extension of the time for submitting the reply but refused to give copy of any document nor allowed me its inspection. After submission of my reply I was complacent that nothing would happen as my reply was very exhaustive and forcefully cutting the charges; but Aggarwal with the help of AL Budhiraja, the Chief Inspection Department was determined to harm me to the maximum and by influencing the Authorities at the Head Office. (I knew Budhiraja was very close friend of Aggarwal and well known to me also because of him. I never thought that he would help Aggarwal in unethical way to such an extent against me.)

Pushap Raj Aggarwal Sub-Manager was transferred to some village branch as Manager and in his place Darshan Lal Jain, Manager Mathana branch joined the office as Sub-Manager. Jain was very nice and sincere officer. He normally did not allow me to work on the routine and told me that it was his duty to take care of the entire routine. He used to come on Sunday and holidays to clear the back log and tallying of balances. Raj Kapur  (union leader) used to give him company on holidays. My relations with all the members of staff were friendly and I used to take time off and on to visit their places  on holidays occasionally.

Susheel Kumar, Accountant was handling Loans and Foreign Exchange of the branch satisfactorily. In his place DP Puri was transferred from a village branch as Assistant Manager.  Puri was very gentle man and was on the verge of retirement but he could not write a single letter and he could work  only on light routine seat. I had no routine seat where he could be utilised.  He also could not be replaced with any other officer  as they too were an average but were doing the assigned jobs satisfactorily. He was fit only in a small office. He was square peg in the round hole.   I had no option but to put him on the loan seat of Susheel Kumar in whose place he joined. When in a routine I used to visit his section he used to tell that  neither he  had worked on the loan seat nor he knew  about the big loans nor he could write letter in English. I tried to encourage him as I was thinking as he had come from a small office and would gradually pick up. I felt the seriousness only when there were number of reminders from the R.M,/Z.O/H.O. One afternoon I sat with him and asked to take out his pending letters . Reluctantly he took out a thick bunch of pending letter file from his drawer. I was shocked to see that there were over hundred letters including the reminders. I patiently told Puri if he was having such a real problem he should sought my help and at least should have brought to my notice.

I never wanted to be harsh to the old man when he was holding the tears in the eyes. His condition was pathetic. I was feeling sorry for he never took my help even when he knew that I had a helping attitude.  Actually he could not  understand the language of the letters. I wondered when I told him to sort out these letters subject wise he was not able to do that also. I took the file from Puri and sorted out the letters subject wise and told him to put all the letters in the respective files. He was nervous to such extend that he could do that also. I consoled him that there is nothing to worry I will help him to clear this backlog. I sorted out the important letters and called the steno and gave him the dictation.  There were two holidays in the coming days. I called him in the office and cleared most of the letters. Where some follow up was necessitated  I, at least, sent their acknowledgment. Till he retired and SS Sijjar joined his place I did not allow the loan letters to go to the loan section. (I knew that some people do get promotions not on merits but other wise also).

One day, when I was in the office, I received telephone call from Dahiya asking me to arrange one Bag of Sugar for him and send the same to his residence. Surinder Kumar Gupta, Special Assistant, in charge of the bills, was daily commuter from Jallandhar. I asked him if he had any acquaintance in the Jagjit Sugar Mills because they were not dealing  with us. He asked me the purpose for which I inquired  I told him that Dahiya had asked me to send him a Sugar Bag at his residence. I thought as there was sugar mill at Phagwara and he wanted that he would get the sugar bag at concessional rate.  Gupta assured me that he would do the need full and told me that it was his headache and I should not worry about it. As per my temperament, after three or four days  I inquired from Gupta if he had sent the sugar bag to RM Sahib. He told me ‘ Sethi Sahab aap bhole hai’, Dahiya wanted sugar bag free of cost’. He further told me that he already talked to Jain and they had decided to share the cost of the Sugar Bag by them selves,  without disclosing  me. He further disclosed that the very next day when he went Jalandhar he telephoned the Sugar Merchant  who was known to him  asking him the rate of the Sugar Bag and and also asked him how much he could contribute. The dealer asked Gupta for whom he needed the sugar bag. Gupta told him that the Sugar Bag was needed by his RM Dahiya. In turn the dealer told him that he had already sent one sugar bag to Dahiya previous day at the instance of one Jallandhar Manager. Gupta told me the he immediately gave ring at the residence of Dahiya but Dahiya was not at his residence and he then inquired from his wife that Dahiya Sahib wanted Sugar Bag and the dealer had told him that he had already sent one Bag of Sugar to his house. He further inquired if they need an other sugar bag. Mrs. Dahiya told Gupta she did not know. Gupta told her in case they needed another bag, they should tell him and he would send another bag, but there was no response from them. Gupta told me that Dahiya wanted free sugar bag from me also and that was why he and Jain decided to share the cost. After a month or so Shiv Nath, Dahiya’s Driver came to me and told me that Sardar ji was annoyed with me for not sending the Sugar Bag. He suggested me that I should have sent the Sugar Bag to Sardar ji, but I was not aware of this culture.

Dahiya on his visit to my office used to ask for the insurance commission.  I told him that the parties used to get insurance direct from the Insurance Co and as such question of commission did not arise; moreover no fresh financing was being done in the branch. I was never interested in insurance commission. Most of my new financing was under Agriculture Sector where there was low premium and most probably there was no commission. Bhandari who was Manager of National Insurance used to visit me. Once or twice he gave me a small amount which I initially refused but he told that it was customary for the Managers to take the commission. Whatever he gave I immediately spent on the welfare of the staff. I never counted what he gave but this much I was sure it used to be a very small amount and the occasions may not be more than  two or three. However, he used to ask me if any commission was due to him. He told me that the Managers used to keep regular diary of the commission due to them and they used to claim the difference if any. He, however, accepted that there was no much commission because of the reasons elaborated above. Most of the Loanees  were already getting their stock insured from company of their choice and in fresh financing I never insisted the parties  to get the insurance though bank. I used to ensure the Insurance cover should covered the bank clause provide by the parties.

Once, in the afternoon RP Kakkar, Chief Manager, Civil Lines Jalandhar came to meet me as we both had been working at Chandigarh.  I was Manager at B.O. Sector-16 when he was Manager at B.O. Sector-22 and we had family relations. When he came, I phoned at my residence telling that Kakkar Sahib  had come and we would be coming for tea. Just after five minutes Dahiya came and told me to accompany him immediately. I told him that Kakkar had just come and I would accompany him after taking tea. Dahiya and Kakkar were of the same rank but he did not have the courtesy to sit there for a minute. He insisted that I should accompany him leaving him there. I requested him that he should also give us company as the tea must be ready but he told me that I should leave Kakar  there and accompany him immediately. Reluctantly, I accompanied him, expressing my regrets to Kakkar and requesting him not to go without taking tea at my residence which was just behind the bank premises.

After I came out, he asked me to sit with him in his car and told me that I should get him a truck of bricks. I told Dahiya that we had one kiln account owned by Ved Pal Sood and Sood was known to him also. Some years back Dahiya was Manager of this branch. I took Dahiya to Sood’s Kiln. Sood was there. Dahiya told Sood that he should send him one truck of bricks. Sood responded that it would be his pleasure. When we were to leave his kiln, Sood told him that he did not have the transport. Dahiya told me that I should arrange a truck for him. I kept mum but on the way back I told Dahiya that Walia, a transporter had asked me a number of times for him and wanted to meet him as he was his old acquaint. I told Shiv Nath, his driver, to take us to the house of Walia. The transporter was his old friend. Dahiya told Walia to send one truck to Sood’s kiln  for carrying bricks to Jalandher. He showed his pleasure. Now I was out of this deal. Later, Sood told me that  four, five trucks of brick and two truck load of ‘Rori’ were sent to Jalandhar for the construction of the Kothi of Sahib. Further, he told me that  he was asked to pay the Octroi also.

Dahiya was a wicked man. He had no room for the workers. He wanted ‘yes man’ only. Aggarwal’s ghost was already doing his work. As such I could not maintain equation with him as  a worker . To spoil my record he used to write letters to branch telling that certain statements had not reached his office which the branch already had sent. On occasions he used to write letters telling that I was not responding to his correspondence under copy to the Zonal Manager, Ludhiana, but actually he was not dispatching such letters to my branch. The Zonal Office was naturally annoyed. Once, Balwant Singh Sethi, a  Senior manager at Zonal Office was sent to my office along with these letters for reprimanding me. I showed him the office  files. Letters which actually received were immediately replied and the statements were sent in time and some times duplicate copies were sent when they complained their non receipt. Sethi understood the mischief of Dahiya and reported the matter accordingly to the Zonal Manager, Lachman Das Adlakha. Subsequently when Adlakha came to my office on official visit and he discussed the mischievous behavior of Dahiya as he knew him since long and advised me that in future I should endorse a copy of  all the important letters and statement to his office also. Adlakha had worked with my father-in-law in old days at Ludhiana, Chaura Bazar branch and during his visit he gave me the reference my father-in-law also.

The Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was to visit Nakodar and a grand Mass Loaning Function was decided by all the banks. My Regional Manager told me that maximum loan cases should be sponsored by my branch. Our half-yearly was also ahead. The Regional Manager told me that we should defer the closing work and should put full force in the sponsoring of the maximum cases. I choose three villages for the purpose and sent special team there. I also personally visited to the villages to see the progress. The Regional Manager was interested to procure maximum cases for ‘Suraj’ Tractor. The representatives of the ‘Suraj’ tractors and The Regional Manager also paid many visits for the purpose to our office but there was no taker for this brand of tractor.  Otherwise our achievement was exceptionally good. Before the arrival of Indira Gandhi I also visited the venue of the function to ensure my team and the loanees had reached there. I returned before the function was to start. The very next week of the function, Dahiya wanted to know why the closing work had been delayed and he disowned that he ever told that priority to the function be given over the closing . Some how we completed the half-yearly work, though with great difficulties.

Once, the meeting of the Board of the Directors was to be held at Phagwara. The Board meeting was held at J.C.T. Board Room. All the Directors, the Chairman, SL Baluja and General Manager KC Mehra were there in the meeting. After the Board meeting Dr. Kahlon, the director desired to visit our branch and I was advised to reach the branch immediately. Dr. Kalhon, KC Mehra, LD Adlakha and Dahiya came to my branch. After inspecting the Banking Hall they came to my room. Dr. Kahlon asked me how we can improve the Deposits in the Doaba belt where majority of the population had gone to Foreign Countries. I gave him the concept of the roving official in the branches with low counter and suggested ‘the N.R.I. customer be tackled, as the retail shopkeeper tackles his customer when he steps in the shop’. He liked my idea and asked if I had given my suggestion to the authorities. I told him that I had written to the Regional Office as well as to the Zonal Office and showed him the copy of that letter. He immediately busted at  Adlakha (Z.M.) and Dahiya (R.M.) and asked them what action they had taken on my suggestion. He told KC Mehra (G.M.) to stay on there and come to him with a note within two days. The G.M., Z.M., and the R.M. felt humiliated and they did not relish  for my taking the liberty to tell the Director. Next morning KC Mehra, General Manager came to my office to collect the proposal. After taking a copy of the proposal he left to Regional Office with grimace face.

Ravi, my son was suffering from whooping cough. Despite getting treatments, he could not get any relief. Water from the steam engine was also given to him as told by somebody but this also did not give him any relief. Ultimately we had to get him admitted in Daya Nand Hospital, Ludhiana. Here though there was little relief but during the treatment doctors gave him one medicine ‘perineum’ which had a reactionary affect and his body became still and we became very much worried. However, the Doctors ultimately controlled the reaction of the medicine but we became so panicky that we got him discharged from the Hospital without getting relief from the whooping cough. Ultimately we brought him back to Phagwara. Somebody suggested Dr. Bakshi a Homeopath whose clinic was in a street just opposite to our Bank. Dr. Bakshi was very nice man and he was from Rawalpindi. While giving  the medicine to Ravi he told us that if we wanted a quick relief we should give him ‘haldi’ (turmeric) boiled in milk for three days. It worked a miracle and he was cured within three days. Later we tried this ‘totka’ on many who were not getting relief despite trying many physicians. He gave some other valuable tried ‘totkas’ but we forgot them.

Marriage of my sister Bholi (Promilla) was fixed for 3rd October, 1981 with Satish Chopra a distant relative of Mrs. Vijay Sethi. This was the first marriage after the death of my brother Inder who used to make all the arrangements and I was supposed to arrange for the finances. Satish Chopra was working in irrigation department at Panipat. I was at Phagwara and my parental family was at Mathura. Had Inder been there we would have asked Chopras to bring the ‘baraat’ to Mathura (our ancestral place). Apparently, in absence of my father it was my responsibility to make arrangements I asked Chopras about their choice where they would like to bring the ‘baraat’. Naturally their preference was Panipat. We did not have any relations at Panipat. Suddenly, it stuck me that one of my old colleague, Ram Lal Chhabra who had worked with me at Yamuna Nagar when I was clerk was now a Union leader at Panipat but I had no link with him since he left Yamuna Nagar. I called my son Rakesh to Phagwara from Chandigarh and told him to take Niranjan Das Gomber from Yamuna Nagar to Panipat and ask Chhabra if he could make the arrangements for the marriage. In the meanwhile  I also had talked to Gomber on telephone and requested him to see Chhabra at Panipat and take Rakesh with him. Both reached Panipat and met Chhabra. On their reaching Panipat I immediately received phone from Chhabra telling me that I should not worry about the arrangements and it was his job to manage the whole affair.  He advised me that I should not come there for this  purpose  but instead I should send him the details of the programme   He told me that I should come a day before the marriage and assured me that I would not be finding any thing lacking. I sent some estimated money for the arrangement to Chhabra through Niranjan Das and I was monitoring the arrangements on telephone only. I reached Panipat, only a day before the marriage just as my other relatives  reached there. Niranjan Das and Rakesh had to visit Panipat two three times to ensure that the arrangements were satisfactory and to pay some money though Chhabra insisted that no money be sent to him and it would be settled after the marriage. As most of the relatives had reached Delhi at Kamla’s house I also sent Nirmal to Delhi to help my mother and sister in preparation of the dowry.  I got the  invitation cards printed at Phagwara and dispatched to our friends and relatives from Phagwara.

The clothes and jewelry were to be got prepared through Kamla. I had applied for loan against Provident Fund but it was delayed as usual. When Nirmal reached Delhi without money, satirically Ram Parkash, my brother-in-law said that now the ‘Sethani’  had come and she might have brought abundant of money. Nirmal told him that she had not been given any money. Vijay had also reached Delhi from Kota and Ram Parkash told him that there would be huge expenditure on the marriage and advised him to let the ‘Pal’ manage it. Vijay was very sensitive and was  much disturbed to know that the marriage involved such a huge expenditure and he told him what would happen to ‘Phapa ji’ (me) when he would be told to manage all himself. Vijay told Ram Parkash that he had brought Rs.5000/- and he would not be withholding the money which he had brought. Two days before my departure I received the Loan against Provident Fund   and that too with great difficulties. I had to approach AK Palliwal who was in the P.F. Department who had worked with me in the Regional Office at Chandigarh.  Immediately on receipt of my telephone he traced my Loan application which was still laying un-attended and He immediately took my application and got it sanctioned from the competent authorities and personally went to Parliament Street branch and informed me the Number and date of the TPO on telephone. On getting the details, I got the voucher passed as per details received on telephone and withdrew the money. Besides  I also  borrowed some money from Bihari Lal Narang .

I reached Panipat a little before my other relatives reached. Rakesh, Niranjan Das, Chhabra, Tandan, and Rajinder Kawatra were waiting for me. Tandon and Kawatra were also from  our bank and were known to me.  When they came to know that Chhabra was making arrangement for the marriage of my sister they voluntarily came out and actively shared the responsibility with  Chhabra. The arrangement was well planned and every thing was as per rituals in consultations with the local Pandit ji. It was day’s marriage and a day before,by the evening most of our relatives had reached. There was appropriate arrangement for the guests. Water, Tea and respectable eatable were ready there for them. Dinner was  decent and to the liking of all. Late, when every one had taken their meals it was found that no one had brought the bedding and it was beginning of October and nights were  chilling. Though it was late at night Chhabra rushed immediately and arranged for three bails of thick sheet ‘Khes’ and two bails of ‘Daries’ from a local Mills. The morning breakfast was good and to the liking of everyone. There was proper arrangement for the reception of braat. Every thing required at the milini  including garlands were ready. The Lunch was respectable. Everything required at the ‘Lavan Phere’ and ‘Doli’ was prearranged. The arrangement was meticulously made and there was no occasion when we had to run for any thing. I was just like a guest,  like my other relatives. The hosts were: Chhabra, Tandon and Kwatra. From my side Rakesh and Gomber accompanied them where Chhabra wanted them to go.  The furniture was also purchased locally on the same day with their help. Rakesh told me that there was  a little indication  from Bholi about the dressing table which was not included in the furniture. I told Rakesh to get the same also but in the meanwhile my sisters Kamla, Nirmal and Urmil decided to give some furniture items including dressing table as gift to Bholi. My friends Bihari Lal Narang. from Phagwara.  Dr.Ishwar Dayal, Kuku Jain, BR Kamal with his wife who had fractured in her hand came from Yamuna Nagar. The atmosphere was so joyous that after the departure of the ‘Doli’ there was mock demonstration for fun led by Yash Pal Chadha and Onkar Nath Bhasin my brother-in-laws raising some demands. This fun was much entertaining. Most of friends and relatives left in the evening but our close relatives left next morning. I cleared the accounts of Chhabra. At no stage,  any shortage was felt for which any one had to run. Not even a pinch of salt was not  wasted. Only  two or three Kg of ghee and about one Kg. of onion were left for us to carry.  Everything was very smooth and meticulous. The winding of the functions was also managed by my local friends. I simply had to make the payment at the end which was astonishingly very low. Had  I to mange it, it would have been much expensive and fatiguing also.

As Phagwara was a small town and the car was not a necessity as most of times it remained in the garage. Financially I was tight also. I wanted to sell the car but not at Phagwara. The local people may also talk to their taste. I told Rakesh that he should look for a customer at Chandigarh. He talked to a few people but it was necessary to send the car to Chandigarh  At the same time there was apprehension that till the sale was finalised Rakesh might misuse it but without sending the car to Chandigarh, it was  not possible to sell it also. Ultimately I decided to send the car to Chandigarh . Rakesh came and took the car to Chandigarh  Nirmal, My Wife accompanied him. Just before the Ropar there was fire in the engine.  After extinguishing the fire a vehicle was arranged to tough the car up to Ropar. Rakesh sent Nirmal to Chandigarh by bus as it was her Tuesday fast. Rakesh got the car temporarily repaired  so as to Reach Chandigarh. As heavy expenditure was estimated at Chandigarh I advised Rakesh to  bring  the car back to Phagwara and  finally I got it repaired at Phagwara at heavy cost as its engine was seized.

To increase loan portfolio, especially agriculture I visited number of villages. Most of the villages had a scanty population and majority of them were old as their bodily able kith and kin had gone on foreign land. They were sending handsome amount to them. A very few were interested on borrowings. For securing the deposits, service at the counter was the best solution which we were providing. The scope for the finance was only in small scale industry located in Phagwara. I tried to secure business by meeting the persons who were dealing with other banks and had good reputation with the help of my existing customers who were satisfied with our services. I expressed my desire to the staff that all the good industries on the G.T. Road should be brought under the fold of Punjab National Bank. The staff was also enthusiastic  as they were getting respect as ‘bonus’, I secured a  few accounts and others were in process before I received my transfer orders.  JCT was having only D.D. facilities from our branch and  their main account was with Allahabad Bank, Jagjit Starch Mills was dealing with us exclusively. Besides, three units of Balwnat Rai Gupta, Glider Bush, Kainth Iron Work, Two units of Sardana’s, Parmar’s, one Pharma Company were the main industries of Phagwara dealing with us besides some small units also. I met the S.D.M. but he became liability to me.  Instead of helping us, he often used to send his man to take my car for his personal use.

Bihari Lal Narang was Office-in.-charge at P.O. Jagmalpur, a village branch. Though he was transferred from G.T Road before my joining this branch but he was regular visitor to our house and was very social and helping. He used to take Ravi to Bazaar almost daily. We used to visit him occasionally because of his attachment and respect he used to give. I visited his branch twice unofficially. He used to accompany me to the villages for deposit also and I found that he had good links in the villages. He was very soft spoken. The others to whom we used to visit on invitations were Khullar of  Glider Bush, VP Sood kiln owner. I used to visit Hadiabad also to consult Shastri ji on astrology not for any specific problem but just causally. Shastri ji was teacher in some school and I was introduced to him by Tushan Kumar, union leader.

There were many pending letters of loan section as DP Puri in-charge of the loan section had surrendered as told earlier. I sent the type writer with files to my residence and told Garcha, my steno to come to my residence after taking his lunch to enable me to clear the back log. I went to my residence to take my lunch and was waiting for Garcha but he came a little late and told me that there was some trouble in the branch. There were some heated exchanges between DL Jain, Sub Manager and Mahai, Head Cashier. I immediately rushed to the branch but there was complete calm. I called Jain in my cabin and inquired what had happened. Jain avoided to tell any thing and told that there was nothing serious except that Mahai had refused to make payment to the customer after he had put orders on the cheque of a customer to pay late. I called Mahai and I asked how he refused the lawful orders of the Manager and dared to misbehave with Jain. Mahai said that ‘I was not in the office’. I told him:  ‘ it was your good luck that I was not in the office otherwise I would have suspended you then and there’. I told him to make the payment to the customer otherwise I was going to take disciplinary action against him. He was reluctant to make the payment to the customer as he had already taken a stand.  His Union leaders rushed to me and told me that they would receive the payment of the cheque on behalf of the customer as staff member and would deliver the same to the customer. I told them if he can make payment to the staff why can’t he make payment to the customer; it was disobedience and I was not going to tolerate it and told them firmly that Mahai would have to make the payment to the customer direct. I called Garcha to take dictation for issuing a memo to Mahai. Seeing that I would not budge, the Union Leaders got Mahai agreed to made payment to the Depositor direct.

It was Sunday, Prof. Rajinder Singh (Raju Bheyia) Sarkariavah (General Secretary) of R.S.S. was to visit Phagwara. I was asked by the local R.S.S. leaders that Raju Bheyia would take lunch at my place and also take Press Conference  after the Lunch. Though I was not supposed to take active part  but I could not say ‘no’ to them. After Lunch and Press Conference I dropped him at the venue where he was to address.  Once, I was asked to preside over the function of ‘Guru Dakishna’ at Hadiabad (Phagwara). It was surprising to see Tushan Kumar Secretary of the Union there.  Though I had a R.S.S. background but I never took active part in its daily activities.  However I had very cordial relations with all the political leaders as professional  and was very particular not to enter into any discussion or make any comment on any political issue.

It was my first and last Diwali at Phagwara. JCT staff came with dry fruit packets in the branch and distributed them to all the members of the staff. In the evening Chief Accountant, Behal  also came to my residence with a small bucket of dry fruit and a suit length but I refused to take it. He insisted persistently and told me that it was a customary but I did not agree. Ultimately he had to go back disappointed.  Late at night Singal its Chief Account’s officer came to me with the same gifts. I told him also ‘I do not take the gifts’. He told me that it was customary for the JCT to give gifts to all with whom they are dealing but I told him that I never take the gifts from the borrowers. He told me that JCT was not our borrower, it is a Limited Company. Their main banker was Allahabad Bank and the Mill was having only DD business with our bank. He asked me if I could give them extra facility other than what has been sanctioned by our Head Office in lieu of these gifts and questioned:  had JCT ever asked any favour from me any time. He told me that it was just a custom and advised me that we should not go against the customs. He told me that if we go against the custom we would become un-social and further said that that was his personal advice. I had no answer. He put the gifts at my table and now I did not resist. After this I received a pair of blankets from ‘Pawars’ and dinner set from a paramedical company without any hesitation.

Rajeev, my son was studying in Guru Nanak Khalsa College. He was in the company of friends who were more interested in roaming than in studies. Mrs. Sood once showed her disappointment about my sons. She told me that she thought that my children would be an ideal for her children but she found them otherwise. One Monday, when we went to Starch Mills Shiva temple I found Rajive was sitting on the boundary wall of the temple with Narinder, his friend and their behavior was un- becoming. Later, I told Rajive that his roaming with his friends was not appreciable. Once, I was told that he was roaming in my car in the Mandi.  It was a great disappointment to me. He had learnt driving by taking my car without asking  me. He. however, otherwise was very daring and intelligent of my all the children.

Ultimately I got my orders for posting me as Assistant Regional Manager in Regional Office Nagpur in place of CP Swarankar who was promoted as Regional Manager and posted at Ferozepur. Relieving me again was a problem. About a month was going to lapse when my orders for posting me at Nagpur were received but there was no sign of my relieving. I was continually asking Adlakha, the Zonal Manager for my relieving. He used to tell that he was not finding any suitable substitute. There was one Seminar of Senior Managers at  Z. T.C. at Tagore Nagar, Ludhiana. In the seminar, Adlakha told me that I should name any of the Managers who were participating in the Seminar as my substitute after the meeting. After the meeting,  many Managers met me  and they were panicky and requesting  me that their name should not be proposed as Dahiya was very notorious Regional Manager and they did not want to work under him. The name one of them  I can recall was that of PN Puri. As none the Managers was interested to work at Phagwara my relieving was put to hook.

In between, once,  I had been to B.O. Sector-16 Chandigarh, JN Gupta retired Senior Manager, incidentally met me there. When I told him that I was being posted Assistant Regional Manager at Nagpur, he told me that RB Aggarwal was the Regional Manager who had worked under him at Dehradun. He told me that he was a nice man but he was lacking in   banking knowledge and I would be asset to him as he would be depending on me,

I had personal equations with Avinash Jaiswal, Keshav Khurana and Varinder Gupta who were partners in Kalima Chemicals, Pinjore. Varinder Gupta had a hardware shop also at Pinjore. Incidentally he came there along with Keshav Khurana and told me that they want to take me to Pt. Panna Lal a reputed astrologer and master on ‘Lal Kitab’. I accompanied them to Pinjore. I told them that I did not have my horoscope with me. They told me that he did not need horoscope and knew how to draw my ‘kundli’  if give him date, time and place of my birth. This was my first meeting with an astrologer who was known for his mastery on ‘Lal Kitab’. I told Panna Lal  who otherwise was a  Government contractor by profession that I was going on promotion as Assistant Regional Manager to Nagpur but he told me that the time ahead was not good and said some thing like Takhat nahi Takhta’. I was least disturbed as I was not anticipating any thing wrong. I did not took his saying seriously but however observed his suggested solutions (Upaiys) casually. I think he told me to drop some coconuts and charcoal of my weight in the running water.  I did not take his saying  seriously even though charge sheet against me was pending with the Head office. The charges against me were not of serious nature according to me. Moreover, excellent work of the previous  eight years was at my credit.

DL Jain was very sincere officer and did not allow me to do any work which he could do. Once,  he had a fever and Doctor wanted to give him injection but he told the Doctor that he be injected on the buttock instead of on the arms as it would be inconvenient for him to work in the bank as Bank Closing was ahead. As per his desire, the Doctor gave him the injection on his buttock. Subsequently it turned out a boil and he could not join the duties during the half yearly closing even. He had to go Nabha to his parents as he was not getting any relief. On the 2nd January, 1982 early in the morning I received a telephone from Jain that he could not deposit the hospitalization contribution  for the year ending 1982 as the last date for the deposit was 30-12-81 (31st  being bank holiday)  and  told that he was going to C.M.C. Ludhiana for treatment and wanted his contribution be debited to his account before we close the books for the half year. The closing of the branch books were not still final. I got his account debited as on 30-12-81 and remitted his contribution to the Head Office.  After a few days of the closing, I went to see him on one Sunday and was sitting besides him on his bed to tell that I had  sent his Hospitalization contribution to the Head Office and gave him the good  news that I have given him ‘AA’ rating in his performance report for the year ending 1981. He just gave me a smile (perhaps he knew that it has not value for him and the man who had shown him such favour was a fool). In the meanwhile, the attending  Doctor entered his room and told me that I should not have sat on his  bed and took me aside and told me that  Jain was suffering from gangrene but I was not knowing what the gangrene was. After sitting for some time more, I wished him for his early recovery and came back.

In the meanwhile, inspection of my office had started. SD Sharma was the Senior inspecting officer. He gave me the reference of my father-in-law who had been his old colleague and gave me full regards and I used to give him full respect. I deputed one of the staff member to assist him for procuring the books/record and but never discussed anything about the discrepancies he was jotting down . He used to visit my house occasionally. There was cricket match those days. He sent one peon to my house to get transistor from my house when I had gone for Lunch. I told him that I had neither transistor nor a radio. When I came to my office he was astonished and asked me was it possible that such a big officer did not possess a transistor. I lightly told him that we never felt the necessity of the transistor.

Ultimately RN Bajaj who was my  friend joined Phagwara branch  as  my substitute. We had worked together on the staff seats at the Regional Office Chandigarh. I was happy that my successor was my old friend. I told him that he could stay with me and take meal at my house. He agreed and stayed with me. Before going to bed I used to sit with him for some times and used asked him when he was going to relieve me. He used to tell  me that he had no instructions for my relieving.  Once or twice he went to the Regional Office also. A little less than a  month  Bajaj stayed with me. On 11th January  as usual I sat with him after taking dinner and as usual I asked him when I would be relived but his reply was as usual.

It was  12th of January,  1982 as usual when I went to the office , Garcha, my steno told me in confidence (when Bajaj was not in the office) that I was going to be relieved that day. He further told me that I should not disclose his name that he had told me. It was shock to me to know that Bajaj kept it secret from me even though I inquired from him last night.  The shock was that the man who was my friend and was staying with me and was taking meals with me for about one month could keep it secret from me that I would be relieved next day. I could not digest what for this was kept secret when he knew that I was eager  to get myself relieved at the earliest. Just before lunch Bajaj came to the office and then  to my seat and delivered me a letter of relieving for Nagpur as Assistant Regional Manager. After taking the letter I immediately vacated the seat and asked him to sit and requested him to continue to stay at my house and take his meal as usual in my house as he was not unknown to members of my family then I went on each seat to convey my thanks the colleagues for their co-operation I had been receiving from them. The members of the staff were  chocked to know my sudden relieving. After that I went home to convey the good news. Bajaj did not come for lunch nor  was he in the office when I sent for the message.

The Staff arranged a farewell party for me in the after noon but Bajaj did not join. Even he did not  tell me or any body  that he won’t be coming to the party nor he met me to convey his good wishes. He left the office just before the party was to start, telling some one that he had to go some where. I could not under stand why he behaved like this. In the farewell most of the staff members criticised Bajaj for his absence but I tried to defend him that he actually had some urgent work and was compelled to go but the staff was not satisfied.  I told the staff that he had no ill will to me and requested the staff to give him the same co-operation which had been given to me. In the evening he was seen roaming in the bazaar  and one of the staff member came to tell me in anguish.  After that he came neither to wish me nor to see members of my family in my absence. However  the branch continued to send the keys of the bank in the evening and take them in the morning in my absence even.

13th was ‘Lohri’ and on 14th was ‘Sangrand’ (The first day of Hindu month). The members of my family decided that I should go on 15th and Nirmal would accompany me. I got two tickets for 15th January booked. My entitlement was for A/C first class but there was no bogie of A/c first class from Phagwara to Delhi but from Delhi to Nagpur there were bogies of first class A/C. Accordingly, I got our tickets booked  for first class from Phagwara to Delhi and A/C first class Cupa (two seated cabin) from Delhi to Nagpur. I sent message to my relatives at Delhi and to my brother, Vinod at Sonepat . I sent my leave application to Regional Manager, Nagpur for two days.

It was very icy cold as it was middle of January. Besides woolen suit I wore half sleeve sweater and full sleeve sweater, still I was shivering.  As scheduled, we took the morning train for Delhi from Phagwara.  At Sonepat ,Vinod my brother located us and hurriedly entered our compartment with great enthuse as he had come to accompany us up to Delhi to see us off  but suddenly he became conscious that he was in the first class compartment and he was having III class ticket.  He was much disappointed and he hurriedly left the compartment. I told him he could accompany us and I would get his ticket changed but he did not agree and came out on the platform immediately. The train steamed off and he was watching me in disappointment on the platform. As soon he was out of sight I became very sad and could not decipher his sad face from my mind and began to feel guilty that if he could not travel with us in the first class, at least I could have got down and travelled with in the III class compartment. Vinod might have forgotten this incidence but I have not. Many times, this scene still hunts my mind and made me sad and guilty but I could never tell Vinod: ‘Vinod, I am sorry I could not match to your love, affection and sincerity.

As our train was late  we reached Delhi late. Many of my relatives were waiting for us on the platform. My massi Rampiari, Anil, Anita, Babal (Harish Bhasin), my Bhua Daya, my uncle Om Parkash Kochhar, and IS Kohli father-in-law of my brother Vijay were waiting for us to see us off for Nagpur. Besides the dinner brought by Massi Rampiari, Babal brought delicacies from Narulas. Almost every one had brought some thing or the other. I was over joyed to see this affection and they all had bothered to come in such a cold weather. I was expecting  that only Anil, my cousin would come on the station to give me the dinner. For the first time I was traveling A/C first class. The compartment was fully carpeted; there was drinking water jug with glass and towels and blankets on each berth with call bell to call the attendant. When we were putting our luggage, the ticket checker came to tell us that the cabin was for some VIP (Neta Ji) and no amounts of argument could convince him that cabin was booked in our name. Reluctantly, we had to shift to the adjoining cabin. However, when the train steamed off every one was weaving their hands till we were out of sight. After mid night when the neta ji left we were asked to shift in the cabin.

NAGPUR

On the 17th morning when we reached Nagpur my friend HN Luthra, Senior Manager B.O. Kingsway was waiting for us at the platform. When we came out on the platform, it was scorching heat. I had to take off all my woolen clothes. Luthra took us to his house. After taking bath and break fast I showed my inclination to see RB Aggarwal, the Regional Manager at his residence. It was Sunday.  On the way to Aggarwal’s residence I told Luthra that I had been given to understand by JN Gupta, his ex-Manager at Dehradun that Aggarwal was a nice man. Luthra reacted, Rah pai Jane te wah pai Jane’ (you will see when you will deal).

As it was Sunday, Aggarwal was at his residence. After essential preliminary greetings Aggarwal asked me how was PL Aggarwal? I told him that he was fine.  I was little disturbed:  why particularly he asked me about PL Aggarwal who was Regional Manager of Chandigarh when I had come from Jalandhar Region. It immediately stuck me that the ghost of Piare Lal Aggarwal had already reached Nagpur also. I was aware of his very stringent revenge full nature. of PL but I thought it was confined to pushing me out of Chandigarh disgracefully by relieving me from the hospital and subsequently getting me charge sheeted.  While we were taking tea, RB Aggarwal told me that he was given to understand that I was a very good field worker and  abruptly told me that he would like to put me as Manager at B.O. Kingsway Nagpur as he wanted a dynamic Manger like me. I was shocked at his saying. I reminded him that I was in empanelled cadre (‘AA’) and had been transferred to his office as A.R.M. by Head Office and he could not post me at the branch but he reiterated that he could post me anywhere where he felt that I would be best suitable. We left his house but my mind was very much depressed and I was wandering how he was talking and how he could post me like that when the transferring authority in case of empanelled cadre was Personnel Division H.O.  and even the Zonal Manager had not power to transfer the empanelled cadre.  Luthra satirically asked me I might be happy to meet my gentleman Regional Manager. I did not respond as I was confused and lost. In the evening we shifted to Gorepeth residence vacated by CP Swarankar on his posting at Firozepur on his promotion  as a Regional Manager.

Next day it was Monday,18th  January of 1982, I reported for duty to the Regional Manager but he did not got me introduced to any of the staff  members of the Regional Office and nor I was given any seat. I myself went in the hall to get myself introduced to the staff and remained sitting in his cabin. Next day too I attended the office and sat before him for some times and went to Kingsway branch which was in the same compound to see Luthra.  On 20th when I went to the office I was handed over a transferred orders signed by BL Mehra,  Manager ‘B’ grade ( Scale II) with instructions to take charge from Luthra and relive him for Ferozepur where he had been posted as ARM. It was beyond my comprehension how the Regional Manager was flouting the Head Office instructions so boldly. When I joined, SP Mehra (AGM) was the Zonal Manager at Bombay and a few days after my joining, Rashid Jilani (AGM) took over the charge of the Zone. Jilani was the Regional Manager at Delhi before his joining Zonal Office at Bombay.

I immediately walked out of the Regional Office and reported to Luthra at Kingsway branch but did not meet the members of the staff there.  I used to go daily to Kingsway branch and sit across Luthra in his cabin and come back home without going into the process of charge taking. I asked Luthra,  if he was in hurry to get himself relieved. Luthra was very cooperative and told me that he did not mind my delaying. Though my face and mind looked calm and composed but my mind was constantly working day and night what was to be done against this humiliating transfer.  After a week or so, one day Aggarwal came to the branch and asked me when I was going to relieve Luthra. I told him bluntly: as and when I would complete the process of charge taking.  I further told him that  if he was anxious to get him relieved immediately, he might give him relieving letter direct but I would relieve him only when I would decide. On hearing my blunt reply he slipped out of his cabin. In the meanwhile I received a letter trough Regional Office to appear at Chandigarh court in a criminal case filed by me on behalf the Sector-16 branch.

Before leaving for Chandigarh I wrote a letter to the Chairman on 27th of January, 82 stating that I was put in the empanelled position with effect from 14.2.1981. Being in empanelled position I was transferred to Nagpur as Assistant Regional Manager in place of C.P. Swarankar (promoted and transferred as Regional Manager Ferozepur). I joined Regional Office on 18.1.82 as Assistant Regional Manager, after being relieved from Phagwara. I further wrote that immediately on my joining I was told by the Regional Manager Nagpur that he wanted to put me in Kingsway Nagpur branch ( ‘B’  grade  Branch) as manager and was given written orders (signed by Manager ‘B’ Grade) on 22.1.1982. This unwarranted transfer had paralysed me mentally and its demoralising effects were too heavy to bear and I was unable to reconcile with the situation and it would be hard for me to discharge my duties efficiently with disturbed mind and further wrote that there could be no underhand instructions from Personnel Division Head Office for transferring me as Assistant Regional Manager and then posting me as Manager at a ‘B’ Class Branch with an oral threat to my career through the Regional Manager. I added that I was already suffering in silence  the mental torture for the last 1 ½ years at some prejudicial hands and was  living with the hope that ultimately honest and devoted worker would be saved from the torture caused due to personal vendetta with the change of time.

I further added that I had always worked with sincerity and devotion and showed all-round excellent results and received appreciation  from higher authorities right from the Regional Manager to the Chairman (O.P.Gupta) besides getting matching rewards and progress in my career throughout and expressed my hope that he would see that ‘the honest and devoted worker who has always identified his own ambitions with that of the institution would not go away in frustration and  he would be placed in a healthy situation where he could work with same sincerity and devotion. Finally I sought his personal hearing on the matter preferably earliest after 9.2.82 as I was to attend some court case at Chandigarh on 6.2.82 but I could never get any reply from him. As there was court attendance at Chandigarh, I left Nagpur leaving my wife alone at Nagpur. I was wondering how the things were happening with me. I was in a quandary what to be done under these circumstances. Was this just an irony of fate to elevate me to empanelled cadre and transfer me as ARM to Nagpur and then to humiliate me by posting me in a far away ‘B” class branch. Were R.B. Aggaarwal and P.L. Aggawal just puppets in the hand of the nature? Otherwise I had done nothing which could placate such a horrifying infliction on me. I recalled, Just before joining Nagpur, my friends Jatinder Gupta and Avinash Jaiswal of Kalima Chemicals) took me to see Panna Lal at Pinjore who had mastery in ‘Lal Kitab’ astrology.  When I met him he told me thkhat nai takhta but I never thought  that I would be put in such a humiliating situation. After coming Chandigarh, I met some other astrologers also but none could give me the clear picture and showed me the line of action I should adopt. Ultimately I proceeded on medical leave for a fortnight in the first instance and went on extending.

As there was no response from the Chairman,  I  extended my leave but Nirmal was all alone at Nagpur. I sent message to Nirmal to come back to Phagwara as my children were also alone there. But I decided to remain at Chandigarh as I did not want to face my staff at Phagwara branch. I had not leaked out the  development to any one expect a few friends who were not staff members. In the meanwhile I received sad news about the demise of my colleague Darshan Lal Jain who was sub-manager (Scale-II) with me at Phagwara. I went Phagwara and with a few of my colleagues I went Nabha to attend ‘Rasam Pagri’ of late Jain at his ancestral place. Now my priority was to get appointment for his wife in the bank on compassionate ground and get her posted at the place of her convenience. I met Mrs. Jain to get her signature on the application. There I observed that her living at in-laws would not be congenial for her and for her children after getting service in the bank. There after I went to Zonal Office Ludhiana for getting her case expedited and for her placement after getting the approval from the Head Office. I also went to Jain in-laws at Khanna to know their views about the place of her posting as I wanted that there should be no problem for her after I leave for Nagpur  Mrs. Jain’s parents told me that she was under pressure from her in-laws to remain at Nabha after getting the appointment and they too had to submit to her wishes. Mrs. Jain though graduate but was very innocent and submissive. I told them that in my opinion their daughter and her children would be having a very tough time at least for the coming one year and it would be in the interest of her children that she should be kept at Khanna and a separate accommodation be arranged for her near their residence. Initially they were not agreeing to persuade Mrs. Jain for Khanna but ultimately they agreed after my convincing them that their decisions should not be based on emotions but on the hard realities of life.

At Phagwara, Renu, my daughter told me that just a day before the death of Jain, Mrs. Jain came to them saying that some one had advised them that the house in which they were living at Phagwara was inauspicious and so she wanted to shift her house hold to our house. My daughters helped her to shift their entire luggage to our house immediately and she vacated her house, but, this too could not save Jain, the noble man, from the clutches of the powerful destiny. In my absence Renu went with Mrs. Jain for the formal interview at the Zonal Office and then to receive the posting orders for Khanna. Later, once when I came Chandigarh in connection with Court attendance I visited Khanna also to see her in the office and met her parents also to know the welfare of her children. Jain was so noble  had sacrificed his life for the bank by getting injection on his buttock  instead of on the arm as he thought that it would be huddle in performance of his duties during the ensuing half-yearly closing. Had he taken the injection on the arm, his life could have been saved by imputation of his arm in view of gangrene but he decided otherwise in the bank’s interest.

I remained on leave for about two months on medical grounds and my last extension was to expire on 14.3.82., but in the meanwhile I received a message from my friend that orders for my posting at Kingsway branch had been cancelled and I was to rejoin Regional Office as Assistant Regional Manager. After the expiry of leave, I rejoined Regional Office on 15.3.82. My rejoining the Regional office was great blow to R.B. Aggarwal but I kept my emotions under control and never gave vent to my injured feelings. I showed due respect to the chair and never talked what had happened with me during the past two months. Outwardly, Aggarwal tried to appease me to hide his guilt by often telling that we both were from the North and we should be beware of the local people. He also sent me a very big brass hanging wall plate telling that that was a gift given to all the near and dears at the time of marriage of his son which was solemnised long back before my joining.  I accepted it even though there was no occasion to give this gift. I was given a separate cabin craved in the verandah.  I was to look after loans and GAD only  staff, audit. inspection and other matters were referred to the Regional Manager direct  through the Manager Hall. Loan cases were referred to me direct by the Loan Accountants: S.M. Veerapan ( GM retired) and Naryanan.  Before my re-joining Nagpur, Dev Raj Chathrath had  joined as Senior Manager B.O. Kingsway and had relieved Hira Nand Luthra for Ferozepur who joined there as Assistant Regional Manager.

I returned Nagpur all alone and now my urgency was to bring my family and luggage from Phagwara. I availed the joining time and went Phagwara. Luggage was already packed when I reached there; the only decision to be taken was how to take my personal car and Shelly (our pet). Shelly could also be taken by Air but there were many formalities to be completed at the air port. There were difficulties in getting her medical certificates and some obligatory injections which was time consuming also. As the journey was very long and it was summer also, it was also difficult to take the car by road and its depreciation cost was much. The car could be taken by rail  but I was told that the Railway would take some time after I requisitioned the car bogie and there was danger for removal of the parts of car in the way. Gurmesh Chadha of Shree Guru Nanak Cold Storage offered the services of his driver for taking our car  to Nagpur  This offer solved our many problems; Shelly could be taken by car. Nirmal already had traveled on bank expenses when she first went to Nagpur with me .  She too, could also go in the car and Rakesh  could also accompany them. I could go by Air with my children but I thought that it was proper for me to go in the car. After the truck left with the luggage, we were over packed in the car for our onward journey to Delhi.  My children were to take flight form Delhi at night and we were to stay overnight at Delhi and start our journey for Nagpur next morning.

I was driving and the driver was beside me.When, we were just a few kilo meters from Karnal, there was a road curve and our car was on a slow speed when suddenly we heard bang under the car. I put the brake immediately and came out to see as what had happened. Oh! The shaft of the car was broken but we were saved because of slow speed of the car because of the road curve. We locked the car on the road side and stopped the bus to reach Karnal.  I knew that in-laws of my friend M.L. Sachdeva were living at Karnal and we could search their where about without knowing their full name and address and send the children to their house. In the meanwhile we also located Fiat Car Agency. It was a sub-agency only; two cars were lying in the show room. We met the owner and told that the shaft of our car had broken and it was lying on G.T. Road about 15 km to wards Ambala. He sent his men and a vehicle to toe the car to the workshop. The owner told us that they did not have a spare shaft. We told our urgency and told him that our children were to catch the flight from Delhi late in the evening and we were on the way to Nagpur. He told us that he could arrange the shaft from Delhi.  We agreed to bear the cost. He readily agreed to sent his sales man to Delhi and then told us as the Taxi was to go Delhi to bring the shaft we could send the children also. This solved our problem of sending the children to Delhi Air Port. Over night  we stayed with Sachdeva’s  in-law and enjoyed their hospitality. Next morning when we went to the Agency we were told that  his man had returned empty handed as the shaft was not in stock at Delhi also and Delhi dealer told him it could take three four days to come. We were very much disappointed as we could not wait as I also had to join my duties at Nagpur and the journey too was very long and our children and the luggage was on the way, I explained the dealer. The owner of the Agency was very gentle; he told his foreman to take out the shaft from the new car and fit it to our car and told him that the new shaft when it would come it could  be fitted in their new car. The noble man put our car on road by mid-noon. We thanked the owner and paid the bill and took our journey onward.

Initially,  we were to stay one night at Delhi to see off our children at the Air Port but because of the delay we crossed Delhi and reached Mathura late at night. To our disappointment our ancestral house was locked and Sudesh, wife of my brother had gone Delhi to see her sister that very morning.  Some how, we could get the outer small room opened and we stayed at night at our house to restart our journey for Gwalior next morning. While going to Gwalior we were told at Mathura that the road was not safe from Dhaulpur to Morena as it was infested with the decoy being ‘Baheyar Area’ in ‘Chambal Ghati’.  we had no choice and continued our journey and left it to God. and crossed that dangerous zone and reached Gwalior by evening. It was a pleasant surprise to my sister’s family. My brother- in-law Yash Pal Chadhha was emotionally so over charged that he took promise from me that I would re-visit them in my car once again. I could not fulfill my promise though he continued to remind me of my promise.

The coming morning we set out for onward journey knowing very well that we could not reach Nagpur and there was no big city on the way where we could halt at night. However, we were told that on the way there was one Government Rest House on the Road side most probably near Laknadon. It was getting darker and there was no sight of any inhabitation.    It must be around 9 O’clock when we saw a solitary building on the road side. We stopped there.  It was Government Rest House. We called the Chokidar and told him that we were from the Bank and wanted to stay there for the night. Initially he was reluctant but he gave a hint that though the rest house was reserved for state government employees only but there was provision that the officers from other government bodies could also stay on slightly higher tariff. He told us for that also a letter from the competent authority of the Rest House was required. Due to our persuasions, ultimately he allowed us to make our entries in the Rest House Register. He had some vegetables. He cooked the food for us . We left the Rest House early in the morning for Nagpur and reached there around noon.

It was expected that the truck carrying our luggage would reach after our children had reached but the drivers of the truck were so fast that they reached before our children could reach. Durge a retired steno of the Kingsway branch had to break open the lock of our house and got our luggage unloaded and put the new lock. There were two drivers in the truck and they drove the truck non-stop and reached Nagpur in a record time. Next day I joined my duties.

 Once, I was sent to B.O. Ahmed Nagar for investigation of the various irregularities committed by the previous Manager, Khasirsagar. I went by my own car. Nirmal and Shelly (our pup) accompanied me. As the journey was long we stayed one night at Akola. We wanted to stay at a hotel but the local Manager arranged our stay at the house of one local  saying that there was no good hotel to stay there. They gave us a big cot which was too small to our requirements. In the morning the manager took us to Shegaon, the holy place connected to Shirdi Sai baba. Aurangabad was on the way to Ahmed Nagar. We had to stay one night Aurangabad in a Hotel.

The third day, we reached Ahmed Nagar. My stay at Ahmed Nagar was for ten days. We got a room in a hotel on the third floor. Though there was lift but it was never used by Nirmal. Shelly used to go for urine after every short interval but Nirmal was afraid of the lift. Shelly would not go for urine till I come back from the office and take her down on the road.  We had opened the back balcony for her for this purpose and tried that she make water there but she was very sensitive and she used to wait till I come back from the office. I used to go the branch in the morning and return in the evening, till then both Nirmal and Shelly used to remain confined to the hotel Room.

One night, Manager along with one local party took us in a deep jungle at mid- night to worship Lord Shiva. We were told that the ‘Ling’ gradually expands and the worshiper used to bind the ling with metal sheet and that was broken after some times. The related name was given to the ‘Ling’ and the temple (but I have forgotten  exact the name). One Sunday, one of the peons who was attached to me offered me that he could take us to the one the ‘Asht Viniak’ temples which was on Puna Road. There are seven more ‘Asht Viniak’ temples in Maharashtra at different places. We took this rare opportunity to visit the temple early in the morning on Sunday. After getting Darshans of ‘Shree Viniak’ when we came out on the Road I asked the peon how far Puna was from that place. He told me that we were on the mid-way.

We decided to visit Puna also.  At Puna there was a friend, Joshi who was introduced to us by Durge who often used to visit Nagpur to see her daughter residing in the neighborhood of Durge. He used to keep fast on all days of the week except on Sundays. We did not know his full name and address . I had a vivid idea that he was suspended from Puna Municipal Corporation. As it was Sunday and no Government office was opened but I thought we might get some clue from some corporation water works. We also knew that, that was not sufficient in such a big city but we still went Puna especially to search Joshi. I told the peon to take us to one of the Corporation Tube Wells. We reached at one of the Tube Wells but we found no one was there as it was mid day. We casually asked one passerby if he could give us the information about Joshi who was working in the Municipal Corporation and was suspended. In the first instant he told us that it was Sunday and offices were closed, we won’t be able to get any information. He went a step ahead and returned to us and told us that he knew one Joshi, who was suspended from the Transport Corporation and his house was just a few hundred yards from that place. We took that man to that house and I sent my peon to call Joshi.

The peon went inside the house and brought the message that the house belonged to one Joshi but he was not there and he would be back late in the evening. We were disappointed.  But again I sent him in the house to check if their daughter was living at Nagpur whose husband was working in a bank. He brought the encouraging news but still I sent him again if name of their grand daughter was such (I am unable to recall the name the kid). They confirmed this also but they neither asked for our identity nor asked us to come inside but still I was happy to locate Joshi without knowing his full name and address. How wonderful it was to locate a man, about whom we knew nothing in such a big city like Puna. I thought it was worth while to take a chance to see Joshi. I inquired from the peon if the road to Ahmed Nager was safe and we could go late at night. He assured me that the road was absolutely tense free.

Then we went to the various bazaars which were named after ‘days’ like ‘Somwar’ Bazaar ‘Managalwar’ Bazaar, ‘Budhwar’ Bazaar like that. The driver took me to  some other various places also. Late in the evening when we reached Joshi’s house it was pleasant surprise to see, the man was the same Joshi to whom we wanted. We too felt happy that our adventure was successful though it was coincidence. After taking tea, we sought his permission to leave as it was already late but he did not allow us to go and forced us to stay with him overnight. After taking dinner he took us to Bazaar. Those were ‘Ganesh Chaturti’ days and he took us to various big ‘Jhankies’ of Ganesh ji. Those ‘Jankies’ were marvelous with light and sound as we had seen Light and sound for the first time. I was told that Puna was at No.1 in such ‘Jhankies’ in Maharashtra. Joshi’s accommodation was very small and we slept as if were sleeping in the three tier compartment. The following morning we left for Ahmed Nagar before  the Sun rise with a sense of achievement.

After finishing the work at the branch we came back to Aurangabad and stayed there at night and next morning we went to ‘Alora Caves’. All the statues were engraved on the hilly stone. It was a unique art work of ancient time. After visiting Alora we came back to Aurangabad and next morning we went to ‘Shirdi’. We had Darshans of ‘Shirdi Sai Baba’ to our satisfaction  and returned Nagpur very late at night. Next morning I reached the office well in time. I gave the detailed report to Bhave who was Inspection and audit Accountant for its consolidation.

We also visited ‘Rukmani’ temple at Amravati, Gandhi ji Ashram at Wardha, Ram Tek where it is said Great Sanskrit poet Kali Dasa composed his famous ‘Megh Doot’. We also visited ‘Hazoor Sahib’  (Nanded.). We reached Nanded very late and straight went to Gurdwara, Hazoor Sahib. We got the room in the Gurdwara but its upkeep was not good. Though there were cots but bedding given to us were very dirty. We took our dinner at some local hotel but food was also not to our taste. We returned to Gurdwara and now it was time for ‘Arti’ after ‘Shree Guru Granth Sahib Ji’ was taken to the resting room. In the morning we again went to Gurdwara to pay obeisance. We packed our belongings and put them in our car. We came to know that there were about four other important Gurudwaras surrounding Nanded which were associated with Shree Guru Gobind Singh ji. As the time was very short and we wanted to reach Nagpur before dusk we took advise from some local and visited the most important Gurudwara after crossing the ‘Narmada’ bridge.  (Probably it was relating to His  hunting ). We were back to Nagpur by night.

Once, we went to Wardha on an official visit, Bhale Rao was the Manager of the branch. We stayed there in a hotel though we reached at hotel late at night but in the morning abound 9 O’clock we were told that it was their check out time. Resultantly we packed our belongings and put them in our Car. Bhale Rao had already shown us Gandhi ji Ashram previous  evening but told us that he would take us to Vinova Bhave ji Ashram even though the public was not allowed to  meet Vinova ji. Initially he had some problems in arranging the meeting but ultimately he was successful and we were ushered in a big room where Vinova Bhave ji was sitting on a wooden cot (Takhat Posh). He received us with a smile.  He was looking very weak and was having ‘Mon Vrat’ (silence). A chalk and ‘slate’ was lying by his side. We were asked to sit on the floor before him. He wrote something in Marathi. Bhale ji interpreted: ‘how we have  come and from where’. We told him that we had come for his ‘Darshans’ only and we belonged Punjab and now were coming from Nagpur.  He asked me what I was doing and I replied I was working in a Bank and lastly he asked me my name? I told him Yash Pal. He smiled and wrote on his slate which meant get fame. Though Bhave ji was writing the questions in Marathi on the slate which was translated to us in Hindi but when we were replying in Hindi we feel Bhave Ji understood it . We were asked by the attendant if we wanted to ask anything more. As we had gone for his ‘Darshans’ only we were taken out. After a few months we read in the news paper that he had decided to go for a wish death and stopped taking water and food. There were great controversies in the Media whether the Government should allow him to die, as it was a suicide. Ultimately Vinova ji abandoned his worldly body when we were still at Nagpur.

At Nagpur we had very limited social interaction with the families except with the families of Chatrath and Durge. We visited Aggarwal who had a flourishing tube well boring business and had resigned as Manager from our bank after establishing his business long back. Once he called me at tea when Banarsi  Lal Gupta, Ex-Chief Minister Haryana visited him. Aggarwal belonged to Haryana. We visited Bhambri who was cousin of my mother-in-law and was working in one of our branches. Among the staff, I visited Pardhan the Senior Manager, Veerapan the loan Accountant and Bhave Audit Accountant. Durge though retired as Steno from Kingsway branch much before my joining but he remained very helpful through out my stay at Nagpur.

One day Durge took me to a RSS Shakha near our house but I could not continue for long as they were speaking pure Marathi which I could not understand. More so no body was showing any interest in me and when I stopped going nobody came to my place to know why I was not coming. Durge also took me to old and new Head Quarter of RSS and I saw very old senior parcharak was relinquishing all alone in the Verandah due to old age sickness in the old Head Quarter of RSS. Once I was away from the office for a short while and in my absence a call was received from Narayan Das ji (Senior Parcharak at Chandigarh) and he gave his number with a message to contact him. On my return to office I was told about the call from him telling that I should  contact  him. immediately on my return when I rang the number I was told it was RSS Head Quarter and then I asked for the Naryan Das ji from Chandigarh. I was told to come in the evening at the specified time. I went to the RSS Head Quarter and contacted the office that I wanted to meet Naryan Das ji. I was told that he was in a meeting which would be over in a few minutes. It was annual RSS Central Working Committee meeting where provincial RSS Parcharaks and Sangh Chalaks were participating. Narayan Das ji came along with Vishwa Nath ji of Punjab  Darshan Lal ji Jain who was Sanchalak of Haryana could not come in the meeting. Narayan Das ji got me introduced to various local people when Vishwa Nath ji told Naryan ji to get me introduced to Bhagwat ji (the present Sarsangh chalak) who was Parchark for Vidharba.

After the submission of my reply to the charge sheet dated 26.9.81 at Phagwara there was no communication from the Disciplinary Authority. After more than one year I received the punishment letter through Regional Manager Nagpur conveying the severest punishment under the minor misconduct i.e. ‘stoppage of two increments with cumulative effect’. I was shocked as I was thinking that the material in the charge sheet was not so strong unless it was willfully twisted or misrepresented. I had  at my credit  a very good work at  Sector-16, Chandigarh branch where I joined as officer incharge and was promoted ‘B’ grade Manager, then ‘A’ grade Manager and was promoted ‘AA’ immediately after my joining Phagwara.  Besides. I got the best branch award and incentives for best performance every year. Though I was fully aware that P.L Aggarwal had made this charge sheet as a personal issue and was using his full might to thrash me mentally and economically and damage my reputation by influencing all at all levels at the Head Office by twisting the facts and was using his friend A.L. Budhiraja, Chief Inspection & Control Division (in those days Chief was the supreme authority in the department) and Harish Chandra Nakara DGM (P) with their new found love at Chandigarh with his skill of appeasement and twisting of the things. I was fully aware of his threat conveyed to me, ‘Sanp da maria bach sakta hai bania da maria pani nahi  mang sakta’. (One bitten be snake can be saved but no body can save the man bitten by bania)  was becoming true. It was the worst and unthinkable possibility but  I was caught unaware in the mechanism of the system of justice which was so insulated, galvanized and corrupted. I lost the battle but I was not defeated.

I made an appeal to Reviewing Authority which in my case was the Chairman and Managing Director on 22.10.82While submitting my review petition I was fully aware that my review petition would again be routed though the same channel, The Disciplinary Cell in the Personal Division which earlier had processed my reply to the Charge Sheet as  per procedure. I was also aware that the Chairman had limitation and would solely depend on the briefing put up to him by the same channel in a routine and I was expecting that he would not be getting each and every matter probed unless he was interested to know the facts and the matter will be dealt in usual routine. Could he read my petition or had he  deputed some other officer to probe the matter the results could have been different but it was not going to be so. Ironically this was the mechanism in the system but I still decided to submit for the review of the punishment and also wrote DO letter 12-10-82 to S.L. Baluja, the Chairman submitting: -‘I have been falsely got charge-sheeted by P.L.Aggarwal, the then Regional Manager,Chandigarh, by submitting false and twisted facts. ‘I have been subjected to mental, physical and financial torture by the lobby created by him against me for the last 3 years. I request you to please depute an impartial officer who may probe into the whole episode and the contents of the charge-sheet after going through the documents submitted by me and hearing me personally; as your good-self being much busy and won’t have time to go through the whole case in detail’.  Moreover, I may please be granted a personal hearing with your good-self for a few minutes to brief the back-ground.

‘If it is proved that the said officer has played so havoc with my career and is responsible for tortures, he be suitably punished for misleading the authorities and also for killing the spirit of an honest and devoted officer who always has identified his own ambitions with that of the institution, If it is proved otherwise, I am prepared to accept any greater punishment and also the cost of the enquiry. ‘I have every hope that the matter will not be dealt in routine manner, otherwise, ignored and suppressed fact will never come out’.

On 19.10.82,  I wrote another DO letter to the Chairman:-‘I refer to my representation dated 12th October 1982 supported by certain documents for review of the punishment awarded to me. ‘Now in continuation of the said letter, I enclose Photostat copies of a few letters received by me which are illustrative of the sincerity, devotion and integrity with which I have been working. You will very kindly observe that the letters relates to a span of four years immediately preceding the period relating to the charges leveled against me.‘I am fully aware the decision on my appeal (review) has to be and will be based only on facts and papers strictly related to the issue (s) in question. In this connection, I also agree that the enclosed letters may not be directly related to the nature or type of charges leveled against me but these will definitely throw necessary and useful light to the background of the accused officer and to view his request for appeal with better perspective. To that extent they do have a definite bearing on the issue in question.

‘I hope you will appreciate my request that an honest official with an impeachable record must not be wrongly punished under the facades of technicalities.

‘I further take this opportunity to request you once again to get the matter investigated through an impartial official and/or by a formal enquiry before a final decision is taken’.

I also wrote one DO letter to S.N.Gupta,  Assistant General Manager (Personnel) on first October, 1982 and copy of which was enclosed to the Chairman stating:-

‘I understand that a seminar on “Disciplinary Action” is going to be held from 4.10.1982 at STC,New Delhi.

‘I am sending a live case for academic discussion of the participants. Please put it for discussion to them, if deem fit, after going through all papers. You may change the names of persons, firms, places with some symbolic ones so as to make the case objective. You may add or delete any part of it for the purpose of the discussion.

‘In addition to the material enclosed, the following points may also be taken into consideration in case of Paulson Batteries (P) Ltd. If necessary:-

  1. Claim has been obtained from the Guarantee Organisation.
  2. FIR has since been lodged with the Police against the party.
  3. Criminal case has been filed in the court against the party.
  4. Civil Suit has been filed for recovery of dues.
  5. Specialised services available with the Bank, like lawyers’ certificate, valuation certificates etc have been obtained.
  6. Fraudulent party could be capable of getting the delivery of Registered Letter from the Post Office also.

The Points for discussion:

  1. Was there any fallacy in collecting the data?
  2. Was there any fallacy in preparing the Charge Sheet?
  3. Is there any human failure or system failure in Charge Sheeting the employee?
  4. How far the stand taken by the Charge-sheeted employee is ration?
  5. Implication and effects on the police investigations and Court proceedings.
  6. Will it in any way be against the spirit of the provision of Disciplinary Action to allow hearing/enquiry in case of minor punishment if the charge-sheeted employee so desires (when technically there is no such provisions)?
  7. If due to some human failure, wrong stand has been taken at lower level, can it be rectified at any stage, as there is no provision for personal hearing? The appeal and review are to be routed through the same agency that awards punishment. Where will be possibility of bringing out other ignored/suppressed facts?

‘I hope the discussion will be useful for justice and effectiveness of the disciplinary action.’ (Incidentally some letters escaped destruction when I had destroyed all the old papers).

The Charge sheet contained statement of Article of Charges and the statement of imputation of charges also which were obligatory under major misconduct only and where formal enquiry was statuary but under the minor misconduct only imputation of charges are required and for which there was no provision for the enquiry. Though I requested for enquiry (internal or formal) for which the bank neither accepted nor rejected even though I offered to accept more punishment and to bear the cost of enquiry as strong lobby was created by Aggarwal and  had galvanised the system. He was determined to get me the maximum punishment under minor  misconduct without enquiry. There was no acknowledgement, no quarry from the Chairman Secretariat or from the AGM (P) except that the Principal ZTC asked me to send the complete case which I already had sent to the Assistant General Manager (P) who was in supreme in personnel Division (earlier it was the Chief who used to head the Department/Divisions) and the ZTC was also under him. After long time I was conveyed by the Reviewing Authority (Chairman & M.D.) upholding the stoppage of two increment but without cumulative effect. As the monitory loss was of a few hundred rupees after taking into account the deduction of Income Tax, more over I could not afford to go to court. The agony I suffered due to this caucus could never be compensated. I accepted that these were my stars whether these were due to human failure or system failure. These were the stars: the same branch which gave me promotions, recognition,   awards and rewards for over four years due to my exceptional good work and now this punishment. I lost the battle but not my right to work with the same sincerity and devotion.

Once, I called the meeting of loan department and discussed how speedily we could dispose of the loan proposals and correspondence.  The main hurdle was in the incomplete or irrelevant information received from the branches. As said earlier it was my nature to find the ways to do the things still in a better way. I asked my staff to send the quarries in type of tabular form in duplicate and asked the branches to reply against each quarry and they may retain one copy for them. I also advised my staff to read the proposal twice before sending the quarries so that there should be no further quarries or minimum quarry from our office and if still reply was not satisfactory our officer should go to the branch to collect the right information or call the branch Manager to our office with the information and ensured that no time was wasted in the correspondence. While replying the Head Office and the Zonal office letters, I used to send photo copy of their letter for their quick action as I had found in number of the administrative offices their filling system was miserable and they could not trace the copy of their own letters which resulted late reply from them.  It was further found that whenever any guidance was sought from the Head Office or the Zonal Office we used to receive volley of queries instead of getting the straight reply. Instead of seeking guidance, I used to pose the issue with my view and ask for their concurrence which was usually confirmed.

My daughters Rekha and Renu were of marriageable age but no anxiety was visible on my face. So far my mind did not work as I had no money, no bank balance. Throughout my life I could never save any money because of various family and social obligations. I could never open even the recurring account. I never bought any capital good or assets by saving the money. I had a fridge, a Car, and a house but all were taken on loan and I was paying installments. I had no club membership, no smoking, and no drinking. I had never tasted the bear even and still I could not save any thing. My saving account never crossed three figures except on the Salary day. Once I had gone Chandigarh on court attendance and went Yamuna Nagar for a day. There I met my friend Krishan Lal Gadh.  He abruptly asked me how I was planning the marriage of my daughters. Hiding my inner feelings I casually told him that I was looking for the suitable match. I don’t know how but some how it came out from me that I had no money also. He asked me bluntly but firmly if I did not have money would I not marry my daughters. I tried to smile away but he stuck to the point and advised me that I should be serious about it and find suitable matches for them and  hinted that he would also take care.

When I came back to Chandigarh in connection with the bank’s court case, I told my son Rakesh to give matrimonial advertisement in the Daily Tribune for Rekha and I would decide when I would come for court attendance next and I left for Nagpur   On next hearing when I came Chandigarh for my next court attendance, Rakesh already had done the spade work and short listed three families He also had visited Aligarh, Meerut and Hissar before my arrival. After the court attendance he discussed with me and told me that he already had said no to Aligarh family. The boy was working in a bank. He further told me that Anand had come from Hissar to meet me as he had given him the date on which I was to come and he was staying in a hotel opposite to the bus stand.   He further told me that I already knew the Meerut family as brothers of the boy, Chander Mohan Bhasin and Ved Parkash Bhasin were working in my Bank. He further told me that he had met his brother-in-law and sister at Meerut and his parents were living at Saharanpur  As he had already fixed my meeting with Anand for next morning, we went to see him at the Hotel. Anand was very nice man and he was interested for the matrimonial alliance of his son with Rekha. He had already visited our house without disclosing his identity and had met Rekha also. He gave me many references of our distant relations but I could not make out. However,I told him that I would write him back after consulting my family.

Now,  I was on the horn of dilemma which family I should decide. Rakesh had seen both the boys.  I did not consult Rekha as I felt that she knew neither the boys nor the families but I was also indecisive. Ultimately we went to Pandit Ji of Sector-16 temple who was closely known to me. We did not have the horoscope of either of the boys.  After seeing the horoscope of Rekha,  Pandit ji said that she had ‘Pati Sukh’ and we could go for any of the two. Ultimately we decided in favour of Bhasin family as I knew Bhasin family.  Boy’s brothers Chander Mohan and Ved Parkash were working in our bank and were known to me. His other brother Ram Parkash’s wife Chand d/o Pritam Singh Sahni was in a close relation of my eldest Bhua Janki Mallick. We met Chander Mohan at his residence and showed our inclination to meet his parents at Saharanpur and requested him to arrange the meeting for  the next day, evening. Next morning Rakesh and I came Yamuna Nagar and met Krishan Lal Gadh and told him of the development. He immediately accompanied us in his car to Saharanpur. Our meeting with Arjan Das Bhasin, the father of boy was just a formal as Rakesh had already seen Ravinder and nature of his job. We mutually agreed for this matrimonial alliance. We went to Bazaar. Gadh bought a few packets of sweets and big basket of fruit. We presented the fruit and sweets and some amount of shagan to the family and some money to Ravinder (exact I don’t remember) as ‘Roka’ and told them to decide the dates for engagement and marriage as I was leaving for Nagpur where I knew no Pandit ji who knew the Punjabi customs Next night I was at Nagpur and gave surprise news to Nirmal. Incidentally this was my last official visit to Chandigarh as the court dismissed the criminal cases and advised the bank to go for the recovery suit. What a great help to me by the nature/God!

As told earlier, our social interaction was limited to two families. One was Durge’s family which was living in the same vicinity and we used to visit them and Durge himself used to visit us every now and then.  Mrs. Durge was not familiar with Punjabi Culture and she seldom visited us but she was very hospitable. Durge was giving full regards and was very helpful and in routine  he used to visit us to know if we had any work or problem. The other family was Punjabi, that of Dev Raj Chatrath, Senior Manager of our Kingsway branch. Chatrath and Mrs. Chatrath were living alone at Nagpur and their two sons Kamal and Yogesh were working at Ujjain and Bhopal. The couple was very nice and used to visit us frequently and also used to invite us for dinner or lunch occasionally. They usually come after taking their dinner. We did not have gas connection and we used to cook our meals on kerosene stove.  When he came to know of it he arranged for the temporary gas connection for us.

One night, they came when my daughters Rekha and Renu had come from Chandigarh. They enjoyed talking on various subjects. Incidentally there was reference about the existence of ghost and Chatrath disclosed that once his mother (Viran Wali) died but after a few hours she regained life. Chatrath told that she lived for number of years there after. This story created a curiosity among the children. Seeing the curiosity of the children, Chatrath told us that he would show them ‘katori’ (steel bowl) which moves and tells.

Next day, as per his promise Mr. & Mrs. Chatrath came to our house late after taking their dinner with a small ‘katori’. The ‘katori’ was not special it was of the metal which we normally use in our kitchens. He then took a piece of paper and made small slips. On each he wrote English alphabets and figurs- 0 to 9 and mixed them and placed them in circle on the central table. He told us that no body would move from the place till the ‘katori’ stopped moving. Then he reversed the ‘katori’ in center of the table and put his two fingers (adjacent to the thump) on its edge and invited Renu to join him by putting her fingers on the other side of the ‘katori’. He gave me one pen to note the letter where the ‘katori’ would stop. Every body was holding their breath. Chatrath began to repeat ‘Is there any soul, is there any soul’? After some times there was motion in the ‘katori’ and it started moving on the table in a circle? It stopped at against the slip Y and then against E and S. It was taken as ‘Yes’. Then he asked what was his name and the ‘Katori’ moved again and stopped  against certain letters which I noted on the paper and compiled them into words and sentences. This show continued for about half an hour and various questions were asked and ‘katori’ was moving. Ultimately Chatrath asked, ‘Do you want to go now?’ The ‘katori’ moved indicating ‘NO’. Chatrath continued repeated ‘Do you want to go?’ Every time the ‘katori’ stopped against ‘NO’. It was near 12 mid-nights now. Chatraths became panicky. He did not know what to do now and Renu and Chatrath could not remove their fingers from the ‘katori’ even. No body sitting in the room could leave the room also. After persistent requests ultimately it stopped against ‘YES’. Every body had a sigh of relief.  Mr. and Mrs. Chatrath became so much panicky that they decided to throw the ‘katori’ in a drain on their way to house and declared they would not practice this in future

In staff training Centre, VK Khanna (Retd. GM) and Anil Bhan (Retd. GM)  were the Instructors. Khanna being the senior was In-charge of the Center.  They used to call me at the center to speak on some subject as a guest facility. Both were from Delhi.  They used to visit my house occasionally and considered me as their local guardian and used to give me full respect. For change they used to come for dinner or lunch especially on holidays and we used to have good company. They did not bring their families. However, later Pinki wife of Bhan came with his child and  she had a good company with us. Khanna when bought a new scooter, he brought the scooter straight to our house first from the show room with a box of sweets as a token to regards to us.

Golcha had a publicity firm and used to come to the office and would not go without meeting me though he  had no official link with me. I cannot recall for what business he used to come to the office and which section he was dealing. Once he gave a few sayings printed on a wall cards. One of the cards I got framed and kept it for a very long time either in my drawing room or in my office. The wording of one of the cards was

“HOW PEOPLE GET TIME TO HATE, WHEN LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LOVE”

We had one pet ‘Shelly’, black ‘Pomeranian bitch, which was gifted to us by someone at Chandigarh. She was very faithfully and intelligent. Nirmal had to remain alone in the house when I used to be away to Chandigarh. She would normally sleep on the bed just close to Nirmal’s feet. If Nirmal had to go to bathroom at night  she would follow her like a guard. Like a cat she would catch the rats from house with a difference that she would not eat them. After killing the rat she would sit beside the dead rat and wait for our petting and escort us in throwing it out. She was very fond of bananas. If she had gone in the market she would not come without taking the banana but she would never eat it there in the market but would hold it in her mouth till we come in the house and would sit on the sofa and peel the banana and eat it. She would never put the banana on the floor. Her other weakness was ground nut, maize stick (Chhali) and ‘kulfi’. Whichever remote corner she might be, she would open the door and would run to the ‘rehi’ (vender) when she used to hear his voice  If the doors were bolted she would continue barking till we open the door. She would eat the ‘chhali’ with complete neatness and would not leave a single particle on it. She would not eat all this in the street or in the bazaar (market) but would bring to house and eat them in a dignified way.

Once at Chandigarh Mr. & Mrs. Sandal (Accountant) came to our house at night and it was winter. Mrs. Sandal was wearing the woolen over-coat. When she sat down she went to sit besides Mrs. Sandal. We observed that Mrs. Sandal was changing her seat out of fear time and again. Ultimately I asked her if  she had any thing in her coat. She hesitatingly disclosed: while they were coming to our house they were eating the ground nuts and a few ground nuts were left when they reached our house and she had to put those nuts in her pocket. I told her to give these nuts to shelly otherwise she would not allow you to sit. She had to take out the nuts from her coat.

Shelly had a great weakness for the car also. She did not allow anybody to touch the car. At Chandigarh when we were residing on the first floor of the bank premises she would come down to my cabin  regularly after 5.30 pm and would silently sit under my chair till I get up from my seat and would follow me to the residence. After dusk she would continue to bark if we were late to give her a round in the car. At Nagpur also once when we wanted to go for a walk on foot. When we stepped out of the main gate she went back barking and we could not understand why she was doing it time and again when we were stepping out. Ultimately I could understand that she wanted to go in the car. When I asked her did she want to go by car she immediately rushed at the door of the car? Reluctantly we had to go on car to give her a round.

I called the mechanic at my residence for overhauling the car. It took about one week to complete the overhauling. In the meanwhile shelly became seriously sick and was taken to the hospital and was given glucose three four times and protinex was given to her regularly. The day car was reassembled the very next day she breathed her last after listening the hymns from the eighteen chapter of Shree Bhagwat Geeta. She was taken for burial near Hanuman temple where she used to visit on every Saturday and Pandit ji used to give special attention to her and put ‘tikka’ on her forehead.

I don’t know what soul she was in dog’s body.  Fifteen day after when she was brought to our house we bought a car whereas we had no money and had no planning. Now fifteen days after her death the car was sold even though a number of times we tried to sell it in between but that could not be sold for one reason or the other. We still link the coming and going of the car with her coming and going.  She had gone ‘Vaishno Devi’ on foot from Katra to Darbar. She took bath under the icy water fall at ‘Vaishno Devi’ though she did not go in the holly cave. From Katra to Darbar she went on foot. However, on way back she was tired and some times she wanted that some body should carry her. She had a bath in the holly ‘Braham Sarove’r at Kurukshetra.  In the hot sulphur spring at ‘Mani Karan’ at the instance of the Head Priest of the Gurudwara. She went to ‘Mansa Devi’ ‘Chintpurni’, ‘Naina Devi’, ‘Jawala ji’, ‘Hidamba Devi’ and many other religious places though she did not enter inside the temples except at ‘Hanuman Mandir’ at Nagpur.

Sijhar who as Assistant Manager with me at Phagwara, was promoted Scale II manager and  was allotted Nagpur Region.  When Sijhar came, the first thing he asked me whether I had written letter to KC Malhotra IAS (collector at Uttarkashi) for matrimonial alliance of my daughter Renu with his son Ravi who was management trainee of 1980 batch and was posted at Phagwara as Accountant after my transfer.  In fact I had not written any letter to Malhotra as I was interested that my eldest daughter Rekha’s marriage be finalised first. Even after finalisation of Rekha’s marriage I was not sure if Malhotras were still interested in Renu and more so  I had not been able to arranged finances for the marriage of Rekha even which was to be solemnised  in the month of April. I had to tell a lie to Sijhar that I had written one letter to Malhotra but no reply was received. Sijhar told me that he had received letter from Malhotra thanking him for the interest he was taking in his son Ravi but complained that Sethi had not shown any interest in this alliance. At his instance I wrote one letter to Malhotra under registered cover, covering my  lie that I had written one letter to him earlier also and told him that I was very much interested in matrimonial alliance of Ravi with  my daughter Renu as I had written him earlier also and further added that  Sijhar had told me that he had not received my earlier letter. I requested him if he could come Chandigarh to discuss the proposal. I received immediate response from Malhotra telling that Indra Gandhi the then Prime Minister of India was visiting Uttarkashi in the first week of August and then on 15th August his presence at his Head Quarter was essential. He gave me two tentative dates after 15th August and I confirmed him that I would be reaching on one of the dates proposed by him. (Malhotra was District Magistrate at Utterkashi)

I reached Chandigarh on the date proposed by Malhotras. Malhotra with his wife and son Ravi also reached there. Meeting was arranged at the Kothi of my friend RL Prabhakar, Principal of New Bank of India Staff Training College, Chandigarh. Malhotras were accompanied with Ravi’s Massi, her daughter and daughter-in-law. They were got seated in his drawing room and immediately before they were to be served refreshments Prabhakar instantly said, ‘Sas to hame pasand hai ab bhau aap pasand karey’. (We have selected the mother-in-law and now you decide about the daughter-in-law).  He further told them, ‘Sas ki heart line bahut broad hai’. (Heart line of the mother in-law is very broad). Mrs. Malhotra was happy but was astonished over the wordings of Prabhakar and asked Prabhakar how he could judge instantly as we are meeting for the first time. Prabhakar while demonstrating with his folded hands told her that when she entered the main gate he greeted them with folded hand and she responded with her folded hands and again when she entered the drawing room he again greeted her with folded hand and she also responded him with her folded hands and when she folded her hands he had seen her heart line which was very broad and clear. Now the discussion was centered on astrology and human nature. Human nature can be deceptive also Renu was very vocal and said she too could be posing or acting as per the occasion but Mrs. Malhotra responded that she had adjudged her as perfect and she could see the deception also if there was any. After tea and before they disbursed, Malhotras told us that they would be giving their mind next day by 11 O’clock. Next day before 11 O’clock we received a message from Malhotras that they were agreeable to the alliance. We went to Ravi’s Massi’s house with a few packets of sweets and a basket of Fruit and gave some money as ‘Roka’. Malhotras insisted that we should fix the marriage date with Rekha which was in April. I told them that I was a serviceman and it would be difficult for me to arrange the two marriages especially when I was posted at a far away place. Ultimately they agreed and told that the marriage date be fixed at the earliest after Rekha’s marriage.

I was happy that marriage of both of my daughters had been finalised but was terrified while thinking how these would be managed. Incredible and unbelievable, but true, that I had no money.  My mind was paralysed for a moment and regained my usual facial posture immediately. My mind said think of Rekha’s marriage only at present and forget about the second marriage. From where the money for the first marriage would come, my mind replied ‘don’t be over strained, be composed, think and plan. Now go back to your duties’.

I was back to my duties forgetting every thing even marriages which were to be arranged. One morning, in last week of October, 82 the Regional Manager, RB Aggarwal called me in his cabin and introduced me to AL Pruthi, a Senior Inspector who had come from the Head Office and told me that Pruthi had come to study the ‘Loaning Projects’ proposed to be introduced at Nagpur and advised me that I should give him full assistance and co-operation. I brought Pruthi to my cabin. He asked for certain loans files which I made available to him. He asked a few questions about certain loan accounts and I told him that personally I did not have much knowledge about the parties as my total attendance in the office was not more than a few months. However, I told him that my loan accountants will help us. I  used to call Veerapan and Narayanan, the Loan Accountants whatever he wanted any clarifications  or details. The way he was posing the questions and seeing the files, I smelled that Pruthi had not come in connection with any project but had come for some enquiry. Next day he told me that he was going to Patni Bhawan and Gandhi Road branches for field studies. When Pruthi was away to the branches I met Aggarwal in his cabin and expressed my apprehensions to him and told him that the way he was scrutinising the files and asking questions I feel that he had come for some enquiry.  Aggarwal laughed away after hearing me and told me that there was nothing to worry.  This was the time when I could conceal my apprehensions from Aggarwal and exploit the situation and add some problems for him but I wanted to be sincere to the chair forgetting what Aggawal did with me on my joining. My mind had always been pressed with various problems of my own and I never wanted to add any avoidable strains by playing a politics. I had never learned the art of diplomacy.  My mind always remained busy with one or the other problems of my own without exposing any expression on my face.

Next day, when Pruthi  came to the office and called for certain files from Veerapan and Naryanan and found some serious discrepancies. In the evening Pruthi burst at me telling that I did not have any control on the files and the files were being tempered. There was restriction on sanction of Loan and Aggawal had sanctioned many loans in contravention to the Head Office instructions and now he had changed his orders (to which I was no aware) also. He gave me certain files and advised me to put them under my lock and key. As per his instructions I put those file in my cupboard. I briefed Aggarwal about this development in the evening. Veerapan and Narayanan brought many files to show Pruthi where the orders had been tampered with. In many transport files the noting of the Loan Accountants were: ‘We may sanction the loan’ under which Aggarwal had written very small ‘yes’ and put his initials  which were not bigger then a sort of small tick . Now he had added against ‘yes’- ‘call for the comments of the incumbent how he had sanctioned the loan’. Veerapan and Naryanan were very much disturbed as they had conveyed the sanction/confirmation as per original orders. ML Panday, Assistant Manager (Development) also brought one file of Patni Bhawan Building where there were certain serious discrepancies.

I requested  Pruthi, to take note of these developments, orally on 26.10.82 and he advised me to give him in writing.  On 28.10.82 I gave one hand written note to Pruthi conveying ‘As already conveyed to your good self on 26.10.82 that I have apprehension that certain record of this office is being tempered. My apprehension is based on the information given to me orally by ML Panday, AM (Development), DVL Naryanan, SM Veerapan Accountants (Loan) and KS Raman (Clerk typist in Loan). As there cannot be control over all the files for all the times, please take note of this for immediate action and call the persons named here above for further investigations’. Pruthi received the letter under his initials but he did not take any follow up action as he was changed man.  It appeared that he was not much interested now in these developments. (One of the Staff members told me that Aggarwal and Pruthi had a dinner on previous night at ‘Navedium’ hotel at Sita Burdy).  There was a sea change in Pruthis’s attitude. I felt that some big deal was struck between Pruthi and Aggarwal as next morning Pruthi when come to the office and called for various files but his tone was different and it was not aggressive. When Pruthi was away PK Pardhan, Senior Manager came to me and told me that he had released a loan amount at the oral instruction of Aggarwal in case of Jalgaon Rerolling Mills while he was Manager at Jalgoan and his action had not been confirmed by the RM and he apprehended his letter might be removed from the file. He brought Veerapan with the file. They showed me the letter. Pardhan had written and wanted that I should give him an attested copy or Photostat copy of the same. I told him that the copy of the letter could not be given but assured Pardhan that the letter would not be removed from the office. But It was a great shock to me when subsequently it was brought to my notice that that very particular letter had been removed from the file. Pardhan was very much disturbed  as he was on the verge of retirement. I assured him that if need be I would confirm that the letter had been seen by me in the file.

Pruthi abruptly left Nagpur for Jalgaon and from Jalgoan he went to Zonal Office, Bombay to brief the Zonal Manager and then to the Head Office. He did not disclose his Programme. Feeling an abrupt change in Pruthi after ‘Nevedium’ meeting I thought it proper to inform Jilani, the Assistant General Manager (Zonal Manager) on phone on 1.11.82. Jilani advised me that I should give him in writing. From his tone I felt that he had already been briefed wrongly by Pruthi.  However as desired by him next day (2.11.82) I sent one hand-written note to Jilani stating:-

‘Being a second man in the Regional Office  Nagpur, as per Head Office instructions it is my sacred duty to bring to your kind notice the serious development which came to my notice on 26.10.82 about the removal of certain papers from the files and also about the tempering with the record of our office files. The matter was immediately brought to the notice of AL Pruthi, the inspecting officer. The relative files were also shown to him by the concerned assistants. I cannot have every control over the files for all the time and as such the aforesaid action can seriously prove prejudicial to the Bank’s interest. In view of the above I request that immediate suitable action be taken to arrest the aforesaid happenings.’ I gave a list of the files which were brought to my notice. I also endorsed a copy of that note to Inspection & Control Division, H.O.New Delhi for information.

Earlier, on 5th October, 82  GB Singh manager (staff) Zonal Office came Nagpur on some mission along with another officer. The Regional Manager asked me to pass their TA Bills allowing them air travel and cancellation charges of their rail tickets. I pointed out that as they were employees of the Zonal Office and their TA Bills should be passed by the Zonal Office Bombay where they were working as per rules. As such I did not pass their TA Bills.  Ultimately, these were got passed from some other officer but I did not know who passed them.  Even otherwise it was for the staff section to pass the TA Bills which was not under me. After getting the TA Bills passed, GB Singh came to me flowing the TA Bills and told me satirically ‘  Dekho mare TA Bills pass ho gai, Ap ne mere TA bill nahai pass keay, to kia samjte ho TA Bills pass nahi ho ge. Sethi Sahib, Harish Chander banne se kuch nahai ho ga. Tum kaho gay akhar satya di Vijay hoti hai. Mr. Sethi sach pane tak admi  ya mar chukka honta ya marne de kol ponch chukka Honta hai’.  (See my TA Bills have been passed. You did not pass my TA bills. What do you think my TA bill will not be passed?  Sethi Sahib there is no use of becoming Harish Chandra. You might say ultimately truth will prevail. To get justice the man either dies or reaches near the death by that time).  He taunted me and went away.

On 11th October, 82 at 4-00 p.m., I received second severest shock of my life from Aggarwal by getting me a letter delivered though a peon for my transfer to BO Ahmedabad, Maskati Market. There were heavy cyclones in Surashtra (Gujarat) in those days which caused a great havoc to the entire area. Before the letter was to be delivered to me, around 3 O’clock Aggarwal came to my cabin in a very happy mood and pointing to the map of India which was hanging on the wall just behind me and telling satirically ‘Dekho idar se tofan ayia aur udhar se nikal gia’. I could not understand his unusual behavior. After saying this he left my cabin laughing and went in the Hall towards the cabinets where staff files were lying. He himself took out one file from the cabin and went away. My mind was wondering over his remarks and behavior. I felt something unpleasant was going to happen. But my imaginations could never catch that I would be getting the marching orders. Immediately after getting the orders I came out in the hall and I thundered ‘Aggarwal! ab tumara bhi bura wakat anewala hai ! (Your bad time too is coming) and must have said some more bad words also in a fit of rage but I am unable to recall. I immediately left for home and proceeded on long leave.

My children and my massi (mother’s youngest sister) Ram Piari had come just two days before to celebrate ‘Deepawali’ which was probably on 12th or 13th October. I never thought that PL Aggarwal’s words ‘Sanp ka mara bach sakta hai Bania da mara Pani Bhi nahai mang sakta’ could be a reality one day. I admit, this string was so severe that it paralysed my mind. My mind stopped working. I was not able to reconcile. I did not know what to do. None came to my house for consolation or sympathy except Mr. and Mrs. Chatrath (Manager, Kingsway) in the evening. I was very much up set and my mind was unable to decide what should be the course of my action. I proceeded on two weeks leave. ‘Deepaks’ and candles were lit but they were not giving that bright light which they used to give on every Diwali. (I had to make arrangements for the marriages of my two daughters shortly never surfaced in my mind). To divert my flickering mind I started reading of ‘Sunder Kand’ in the forenoon. Chatrath took me to various Astrologers, Numerologists, Palmists, and Sidh Purushs. I tried all jantars, manters and tantars but every thing failed before the mighty time. I never wanted that my orders be cancelled but my only expectation from ‘Him’ was to guide me what should I do after this humiliation. He was supreme but I could not understand why he wanted to get me tortured for my honesty and devotion.  I simply wanted to know what I should I do as my mind was not working properly. Ultimately I wrote two DO letters,  dated 16.11.82 and 18.11.82 to SL Baluja, the Chairman and Managing Director.

In my DO letter dated 16.11.82 to Baluja I wrote: -‘There has been series of circulars/Instructions by various Divisions of Head Office, outlining the responsibilities/expectations of the second man at various levels. The issuance of Personnel Division Circular No.432 dated 7.6.82 emphasised the need for increased attention, greater alertness and utmost vigilance to safeguard the Bank’s interest. The said circular is categorically empathetic that “concealment and suppression of any such material knowledge/information is liable to be viewed and dealt with seriously”. During the normal course of working certain tampering, removals, replacement of papers in Bank record were brought to my notice on 26.10.82 by concerned dealing Accountant/ AM/ Manager. Since these acts are considered to be most serious in nature (rather criminal) especially in Banking Industry and prejudicial to the Bank’s interest, I brought these to the notice of Senior Inspector AL Pruthi, who was here and verifying the files. At his advice I gave him in writing on 25.10.82. These facts were also brought to the notice of the Regional Manager personally who took ill of it. I also thought it proper to tell Jilani, the Assistant General Manager (Zonal Manager) on phone on 1.11.82 and I sought his guidance. He advised me to send this in writing. Accordingly I sent him first hand report under copy to DGM-Inspection, HO

The most unfortunate part of it was that instead of taking any serious view of these acts, I was delivered transfer orders at about 4-00 p.m on 11.11.82 relieving me as a Manager BO Maskati Market, Ahmedabad before completion of even one year (probably it must be against Bank rules also). Obviously, I take it that it was done to help the officer responsible for such offence to further his designs (tampering/removal and replacement of papers) detrimental to the interest of the institution and to make  me to believe that the authorities never meant what they said in the said circular and I have probably committed mistake in  taking a cognizance of certain developments which according to me are still proving prejudicial to Bank’s interest. (which I can still prove if given a chance) and it has created a bad precedent for honesty and sincerity.

Assuming that, there had been somewhere communication gap, I dare to send this representation to you with the intention to safeguard the Bank’s interest and to bring the facts to light for appropriate action. Even if after the facts have been brought to light, are hushed up, I will not have any grudge against any body. I further added that I refused to pass the unauthorised TA Bills of two officers of the Zonal Office 3.11.82’

In my second letter date 18.12.82 I retraced my record that I was on empanelled position with effect from 13.2.81 and was transferred as Assistant Regional Manager to Nagpur in place of CP Swarankar (promoted and transferred as RM) under instructions from the Personnel Division, HO from Phagwara  (with working of over R.20 crores). On my joining as ARM. I was immediately transferred to BO Kingsway Nagpur (B class Branch) on the pretext that it was desired to post a dynamic Manager as the growth of the branch was negative (letter by RM to AGM Bombay). On my representation to the authorities that I was never allocated to the Zone to be used in any way and anywhere I was asked to rejoin as ARM on 15.3.82. Surprisingly I have been transferred (This the 4th. transfer in less that 11 months) to Maskati Market, Ahmedabad with the same ulterior motive and again it is politically motivated and is devoid of any administrative exigencies, rather against the Bank’s interest when tampering /removal/ replacement of Bank’s record was still going on in the Regional Office even when the same had been brought in the notice of the authorities. It can be said without any fear of contradiction that the same has been done obviously to give free hand to the errant officer to further the nefarious activities prejudicial to Bank’s interest.

 In the background, probably the present RM never wanted any permanent ARM in his office right from the very beginning  so that his unauthorised  illegal actions (in Loan, Expenditure and posting of staff) prejudicial to the Bank’s interest may not come to light. The unfortunate aspect was that even after these criminal activities were brought to notice of the authorities, certain people at the helm were helping him still to enable him to succeed in his designs, nefarious, unholy, and detrimental to the interest of the institution. Embolden by this indirect support and my removal from the Regional Office, the errant officer was further manipulating the records/ witnesses to his advantage by transferring/terrorising blackmailing other member of the staff. I further told the Chairman that I strongly feel that my removal from the Regional office on the face of these facts, not only Bank’s interest has been jeopardised but bad precedent had been created and avoidable harassment has been caused to me by ordering this unwarranted, unjustified transfer for obvious reasons and immeasurable hardships had been caused to me and to my family, creating problems which has disturbed my mental peace. I added that the transfer was normal incident of service and I would not have given vent to my feelings had it been done on reasonable grounds and not to help the criminal activities prejudicial to Bank’s interest.  I charge that this unwarranted transfer and callous attitude of the authorities had paralysed me mentally and its demoralising effects are too heavy to bear and I am unable to reconcile with the situation and it will be hard to discharge my duties efficiently with disturbed mind in the field. Under the circumstances I request the authorities to utilise my services as Internal Inspector with Headquarter at Chandigarh or Delhi. I understand that there are vacancies also and a frustrated man like me, who had a very brilliant record in the field, could be accommodated conveniently’.

I wondered if there was any place for honesty and faithfulness. Why the authorities did not move fast even after getting such delicate information.  Did the criminals always have the upper hand? Were they so powerful to manipulate the things for long? Were the authorities honest to the institution?  Were they not playing in the hands of the criminal gangs blindly? These points are open for discussion. I feel these people had very powerful weapons: appeasement and money and these were the great weakness of the most of the people, especially in the Senior level. Luckily or unluckily I didn’t have both without any regrets.  Again I recalled  the wording of GB Singh and PL Aggarwal which was proving true.

There was not a single communication from the Chairman Secretariat. After my transfer no body from the bank was allowed to come to my residence, rather a strict surveillance was kept around my residence. Once, PK Pardhan Sr. Manager, Regional Office, dared to come to my residence to seek my guidance as his letter written from Aurangabad was removed and he was feeling unsecured and was very much disturbed as he was on the verge of retirement.  During the talk he disclosed that once Baluja (the chairman) was his Manager at Bombay. I advised him to contact Baluja on phone about the removal of his letter and ask him for his help. The very next day Pardhan was called by Aggawal in his cabin and was questioned why he had gone to my house.

RB Aggarwal was residing on the first floor of the Regional Office he scanned all the loan files and changed his orders which were questionable. Aggarwal had transferred Veerapan and Narayanan to far of places from where they could not go to their native states conveniently.

Ultimately, Jilani visited Regional Office Nagpur on 28.11.82 and I got the information through Chathrath, the Manager Kingsway who the only friend visiting me at this crucial period. I sent one note to Jilani when he was in the Regional Office, stating: – ‘this is with reference to my endorsement dated 16.11.82 on the letter addressed to Baluja. Since incidentally your good self is here today in the Regional Office, I would request you to please look into the matter/record as referred to in my said letter. Even though Aggarwal (RM) might have been successful in manipulating the record/witnesses to his advantage after my shifting and transferring both the Loan Accountants (Veerapan and Naryanan) recently and terrorising /blackmailing some others, I feel, still certain vital traces, tendencies could be seen in the record if checked carefully. Further. I am confident that you can also extract the truth from the concerned staff (that of the Regional office and branches) by proper and firm interrogation in light of Para 4 of PD Cir. No. 632 dated 7.6.82.

‘I also stress that an attempt has been made to cover the big shortage in certain accounts (which earlier reported by Branch Manager and SSIO and I learn reliably that shortage is still there) which can jeopardise the bank’s interest if timely and corrective measure are not taken. Since, incidentally I am here, I can assist your good self (if you so feel) as bank’s interest is involved and I also feel that the interested concerned officials have been successful in creating communication gap by false reporting, Further, certain points which could not be reported , can also be explained in person if you feel so’.

Though I sent the note (as a part of my ‘karma’) to Jilani and was expecting the same fate of this note also but it happened other way.  When I was busy in reciting ‘Sunder Kand’ a wonder happened. A Peon from the Regional Office came and told me that Jilani had called me in the Regional Office. After finishing my ‘Sunder Kand’ I reached the Regional Office. After getting the information of my arrival, Jillani took me to the my old cabin and asked me to sit on my chair which was still lying  vacant and he sat just opposite  me and said, ‘Yes?- What?’ I told him I had already given him every thing in writing and if he wanted any clarification on that I would clear it. He told me to get those files. I asked him to call the transport files and bank building file of BO Patni Bhawan . The waiting peon brought  all the files. I showed him the noting of the Assistants and his initials ‘yes’ on the noting and told him that this inconsistent  ‘call for the comments of the incumbent’ had been added during the inspection of Pruthi and requested him to see the alignment of this subsequent writing. Jilani tried to justify it by saying that some times after passing orders it might have occurred to him and he might have passed these orders at the same time. I showed him number of files and told him that it would have been possible in one order but not in all the orders. The words ‘yes’ just above his initials and the subsequent writing started after ‘yes’. I told him that his initials should have been at the end after passing the complete orders.  Moreover, his orders were not  consistent with the notes put up to him by the Loan Assistants which say ‘we may sanction/confirm’. I told him unfortunately Aggarwal had transferred both the assistants (Veerapan and Naryanan) and if he was not satisfied with my versions he may call those Loan Assistants for interrogation. Jilani was a little silent and there after,  there was a little pause. He then said what next?

I told him to call ML Pandey AM (who was still retained in the office and was not transferred).  He told me that he had already interrogated Pandey who told him that he had given his versions under duress because I told him that when Aggarwal would be transferred, I would take him to task if he did not toe to my line. I told him, I was sorry if he had said like this and asked him if he believed his saying that I could say like that. He told me it could be possible also. I asked what powers I had as ARM Jilani told me that if Aggarwal was transferred and I would have been allowed to work in the Regional Office I was to officiate as Regional Manager and I could implement my threat to Panday. I told him that then I have nothing more to argue. Jilani again asked what next.

I asked Jilani to call for Building file of Patni Bhawan of which Panday was the In-charge. When the file was brought I told him this building proposal was got prepared by Aggarwal in this office and got it signed from Manager by calling him in his cabin. He asked,  how it could be proved? While showing the file I asked Jilani did he find any fold in the papers. Had it come from the branch it would have come in a cover/ envelop and there would have been some folds. Jilani saw the file very minutely. There was not a single fold in the set of the papers.  It looked that he was agreeing to my contention. I further told him that I knew the typist also who had typed these papers in the office. He then asked for the name of the typist. I told him that I was not going to disclose the name of the typist. I asked Jilani what had happened to Veerapan and Naryanan and I don’t want it should happen to this poor typist also. He was silent and did not insist for the name of the typist. He than asked for the file of Jalgaon Rerolling Mills, Jalgaon.  When it was brought it was not complete file. He asked the concerned man where was the remaining part of the file who told him that the earlier part  of the file was with the Regional Manager. He asked the concerned official to bring that part of file from the Regional Manager. When part of file was brought Jilani was aghast to see the ‘missing letter’ was intact in the file. ‘Vinash Kale vipreet Budhi’.  Probably Aggarwal lost his balance of mind and was disturbed and in confusion, he hurriedly re-attached the disputed letter which was taken out by him earlier. This was the same letter, the removal of which disturbed Pardhan.

Jilani flared in rage and told me that it was shocking that Pruthi could deceive him like this and could give him false reporting. He further told me that Pruthi had told him that no such letter  was written by the branch. Even he confirmed him that he had seen all the records of the branch  and he had confirmed it in his written report also. Now the tone of Jilani was apologetic. He told me that it was not in his power to transfer Aggarwal but my transfer was within his power which he did. He tried to console me that I would be comfortable as that branch which was the oldest and prestigious branch of Ahmedabad. I remained silent and I could not ask him what was my fault and on what ground I was transferred when the tampering of the record was done by Aggarwal and why I was victimised.  (Very recently there was change in the Head Office policy. They abolished the empanelled category and posting and transfers of old empanelled cadre was brought under the  Zonal Manager’s power which was earlier with the HO). Through out my service I never had sought any favour for my posting except once when I was Staff Assistant in the Regional Office, Chandigarh  and the vacancy occurred at Jagadhri Workshop. What a strange logic. It was just as if the SHO did not have the power to arrest the criminal, let the complainant be put behind the bar . After knowing the fact, could the management not reverse the wrongful orders of Veerapan, Narayanan and mine to uphold the natural justice and could they not give me a letter of recognition to uphold their own Circular No.632 which was not for flouting but was for observance and could they not issue circular highlighting the achievement in terms of the said circular.  Knowing or unknowingly Jilani and the Chairman were part of the same caucus who inflicted the  hardship and mental torture to me for my sincerity and devotion.  When the cat was out of bag, all were interested only  in circumventing their wrong full actions.

Later, I was given to understand that when Pruthi went to Aurungabad he not only removed and burnt the copy of that letter from the office file but burnt the Dak Dispatch register of the branch in which it was entered so that no trace could be available at the branch also. GB Singh was the main culprit who was giving wrong and twisted information to Jilani. Jilani was feeding Baluja , the Chairman  on the same line. Pruthi had already retired and GB Singh was still enjoying his similar status. After the talk with Jilani, I understood it clearly that I would have to join Maskati Market, Ahmedabad.

I was still on leave and preparing my self to go Ahmedabad when suddenly I received an Interview call for Scale IV for 10.2.83 from the Head Office. I set out for Delhi with my family with a mind to go to Ahmedabad alone to report for duty at the Maskati Market after the interview. I went to the Regional Office to take an advance and requested Aggarwal to send Telex to RM Ahmedabad to know if Manager’s residence was vacant. Aggarwal was so frustrated that he played a mischief  and told me lie that he had already got it confirmed from the Regional Manager Ahmedabad that the Manager’s residence was vacant. How he could be so generous for me! It was understood that he might have spoken some thing wrong about me.  A few days before my interview I went to Chandigarh and met my friend RL Prabakar, Principal New Bank of India, Staff training College and he told me that he had very good equation with JC .Adyia a retired Senior Officer of our Bank and told me that Senior officers of our Bank had great regards for him. Adyia knew me and the excellent work  I had done at BO Sector-16 Chandigarh and he had a great regards for me. Adyia used to visit me in my office along with Prabhakar. Adyia had written Bank’s first Instruction Book on Priority Sector and was earlier in New Bank of India.

Prabhakar took me to Adyia at Delhi to whom he had already spoken on phone. At Delhi, Adyia took us to Head Office and took me to meet DK Gupta, the senior General Manager. Adyia asked Gupta if he knew me. He told him that he not only knew me but knew my work also. I  had conducted a prestigious meeting at Institute of Engineers at Chandigarh which was presided over by him.  (DK’s brother used to visit me occasionally at BO Sector-16).  DK also knew that I was brother-in-law of Jagdish Uppal who had worked with him at Ludhiana Chaura Bazar). He told him that my interview was on the next day and he told he wished  that he could help me but told us that I would not be selected in the interview because of Nagpur affairs which were discussed a day earlier by the Chairman in the meeting. DK expressed his regrets and said that he would not be able to do anything under these circumstances. Adyia advised DK that he should not grill me in the interview at least. DK further told us that he knew the Nagpur episode and Sethi also and it would take come time for the matter to settle down. He requested Adyia that it should not be disclosed that all this had been discussed with him. So the result of my interview was put in my pocket before I was to appear for interview.

Next day on 10th February,  82 I was called for interview on my turn. I gave my salutation with a smile very well knowing what was going to happen with me. This was the largest interview committee consisting of seven members headed by the Chairman Baluja. The other members were DK Gupta, HC Nakara, DP Nayyar, Miglani and RV Shastry. Immediately as I appeared before them, I was asked to sit.  Baluja asked me. “I understand, you are running a parallel administration in the Regional Office, Nagpur.” I asked him “Is it possible for the ARM to run parallel administration without any power?” He then said, “The Regional Manager could not go to the field for development because of you”. “This is an excuse, I was always confined to my office routine”, I told them. He then hurriedly he told me that this was not a part of interview. After that, two three more questions were asked by other interview committee members as formality which I replied. I was then I was allowed to go. I walked up to the door and then returned to the Chairman and committee members and said I feel that I am being made a scapegoat and request you that the whole matter be enquired.” “Yes we are doing that” replied the Chairman and I was out of the Interview Committee room without any mental tension.

I wonder how the administration was intelligent and logical. Was this not a case of administrative bankruptcy?  How they believed that the ARM who had no administrative powers could run the parallel administration. Could he transfer any body? Could he promote any? Could he give any monetary benefit to any? What were his financial Powers? Could he give loan to any one in view of credit squeeze? I could not ask what was in their mind to believe that ARM can run a parallel administration. Simply some one had told them that I was running a parallel administration and they accepted it. ARM was just a Head Clerk in any office. If he was to help any one he had to get it through the RM only. He could say NO but he could not say YES to any one. Now I could understand why RB Aggarwal, Regional Manager was not going on tour often, as he was afraid of his own self that some of his wrong actions may not come to light. I always remained confined to my duties and never stepped out of my limits. His tempering of record and unauthorised sanction came to light only when Pruthi came for enquiry. (Possibly there could be a complaint from the field staff for which Pruthi might have come for enquiry  which I never knew and I never tried to know who made the complaint and what were its contents there after even). GB Singh! I give you hundred percent marks on your practical observations. I could not get out the web which you and Aggarwal had weaved.  How dare devil you were. How cleanly and cleverly you had managed to blind the so called intelligent and responsible officers and the administrators.

My stay at Nagpur had been for less than 11 month and my working in the Regional Office could hardly be six month as most of the time I had to remain on forced leave. This was the worst period in my life. I am reminded the words of Pt. Panna Lal of Pinjore who told me before hand, ‘Thakhat nahai takhta’ (it is not throne. It is gallows plank).

Other wise the city was very hot in the month of January. There was scorching heat, right after January. In the middle of the May when there used to be the first rain fall. The season becomes pleasant and the earth gives pleasant smell. There was no humidity. All the fruits especially oranges (Nagpur), grapes (Nasik), Banana (Bhusaval), Mangos (Madras) and mosami (South and Local) were available in abundance. The only fruit rarely to be seen was the apple. All the vegetable were available, rather more variety was available at Nagpur being at the interjection of South, West and North. I am indebted to Mr.  & Mrs. Devraj Charath, who stood with me during the most crucial period and gave us a good company. Before shifting my luggage they arranged a gas connection for as parting gift. I am also indebted to Durge who looked after my family and made our stay comfortable . I was sorry I could not do any thing positive for the institution. It was my study period and I learnt how the wicked people can work powerfully and artistically to blind the entire administration but at the same time I had firm conviction that I got what was destined for me. These poor Jilani, GB Singh and Aggarwals were simple puppets in the hands of the destiny.

(Though I destroyed all my personal and official record long back but incidentally some papers escaped destruction and I found them when I was writing these chapters)

CHAPTER-7 AHEMDABAD & AMRITSAR

After the Interview next day I took Sarvodhya Express via Baroda for Ahemdabad and went straight to  the branch with my brief case and reported for my duties at Maskati Market, Ahmedabad in the 2nd week of February, 83.  TV Murti was the Branch Manager who was under transfer to Bombay.The branch was at a walkable distance from the Railway Station.It was in a very congested bazaar known as Reweri Bazaar which was oldest cloth market of Ahmedabad and Building of the branch was also very congested  in a  small in a ‘katra’   having offices of many Commission Agents of  Cloth. While the Banking Hall was in the main bazaar on the ground floor,  Loans, Foreign Exchange. Day Book, Establishment, Statement, Draft payable and Dispatch sections were on the second floor. There was lift besides stairs for going to the second floor form inside the ‘katra’.  The Branch had Currency Chest in the basement and this was the only Foreign Exchange authorized branch in Ahmedabad This was the oldest branch of the City and was known for its notoriety and troubles.  After joining the branch I went to each seat to get myself  introduced to the members of the staff telling them that I was their new colleague. The Manager’s small cabin was just on the left side of the entrance and it was fitted with A.C. but the floor was not carpeted and had Kota stone flooring. The banking hours were from 11 to 3 pm and office hours were from 11.00 to 6.00 pm. There were about twenty employees including officer staff.

After meeting the staff, Murti took me to Gandhi  Road branch to meet JK Bedi, the Sr. branch Manager. Bedi’s parents were living just close to our house in Model Town Yamuna Nagar. While going Gandhi Road branch Murti on the way told me that I could get a temporary accommodation at Gandhi Road branch at the second floor of the building where two rooms were vacant and some broken furniture and old record was lying as he would  be able to vacate the house  only when he would get the accommodation  in Bombay and it  could take a few months even. After meeting Bedi, I asked him if he could give me the accommodation on the second floor till Murti vacates the accommodation.  Bedi told me that accommodation was not fit for living. I told him that I had no other alternative and need a very small place but he appeared to be reluctant. In the meanwhile Murti was in the Banking hall to meet some of the staff members and he might have talked about me and my requirement for the stay. The staff members especially the Daftri and the Guard on duty were nice. The Daftri came to Bedi to tell that he would make the rooms usable for me and they would shift the record to some other place and put the broken furniture in the side Verandah and get the rooms cleaned by the evening and I could shift there. At this Bedi did not object it.  The Daftri told me that there would be water problem as there was no water pipe on the second floor. For bath and latrine I would have to come on the ground floor. However, he told me that he would make arrangement with some service-hand who would provide me one bucket of drinking water daily in morning on payment. The guard (Mishra) helped me to purchase two buckets and some other necessary goods from the market in the evening. They got the light fitted in both the rooms. The tea shop was just opposite,  down the stairs in the street. In the evening I shifted to Gandhi Road building. There were two big rooms. For me, a part of the front room facing the main road (Gandhi Road) was sufficient. I had only one attache case and two bed sheets and a pillow to sleep on the floor. There was no light in the stairs. Whenever I had to come after dusk I had to bolt the street gate and climb so many stairs with the help of the side wall using my touch senses of my hand and foot in thick darkness. My mind and body did not permit me to go down the stairs once I used to come up. Many a times I would prefer to go without food at night and tea in the morning.

After meeting Bedi, Murti took me to Arjun Chawala who was the Sr. Manager at Ashram Road branch  He was very soft spoken but I felt his sweetness in his talk was a little satirical and deceptive. It appeared to me that he was not clean at heart and was over smart.  He was leader of officer Association and had good equations with the senior officers. He was in fact terror in the minds of local officers as he expected that all the officers, especially the Managers should come and visit him every now and then. He was found of fluttering. Murti disclosed me that he used to visit him at least twice in a day, before coming to the office and before going to home, as Ashram Road branch was on his way but later  members of staff told me that Murti  used to spend most of  his time in his office during the office hours even. Chawala had one Accountant, Prabhakar.  Perhaps he had no permanent office work and most the time he was at his service and used to remain busy with Chawala’s personal work. To me he fitted in the category of GB Singh (Staff Manager ZO Bombay)

Murti then took me to the Regional Office and got me introduced to KL Naryanan the Senior Regional Manager (Scale V).He was CA and once he was Chief Accountant at the Head Office. Though he was Senior to Rashid Jalani, AGM (Zonal Manager) but he was put SRM, may to give him the field experience. Though there was no open confrontation between the two but Naryanan never gave him the respect of senior. Before I could join Ahmedabad RB Aggarwal, Regional Manager, Nagpur might have spoken to Naryanan against me.  He was sweat and satirical  in talk.  I seldom visited the Regional office after my first customary visit but whenever he met me in manager’s meetings his tone was satirical. He never visited my office even  for once during his stay. Naryanan himself was not happy with Jalani AGM (Zonal Manager) for the obvious reasons. I was told whenever Jalani used to come in the Regional Office he would never offer him a seat in his cabin and Jalani used to sit in the hall to complete his visit report.  Murti introduced to me other staff members also  in the Regional Office.  Notable members of the staff to whom I was introduced were Chetalia the Senior Manager (2nd man). SV Shenoy the staff Manager. Dixit,  the Hindi Officer and a few others.

Murti did not introduce me to any parties. I relieved Murti after two days as per his convenience. Working of the branch was stagnant and the routine was in bad shape. Though Maskati Market was the main branch of Ahmedabad but the Clearing was at Ashram Road branch  This might have done due to paucity of space in the branch and also congestion of the road. The road before the branch normally remained choked. The space and location of Ashram Road branch was best suitable for clearing and it was easily approachable to other local branches. Even though Maskati Market was the only branch authorized for Foreign Exchange Business but neither the Manager nor the Accountant had ‘E.’ number required for signing the foreign documents. The documents were sent to JK Bedi for his counter Signatures as he only had ‘E’ number.  (I have-not received the ‘E.’ number though my name was approved for ‘E’ number when I was Manager at BO Pharwara in 1980 but it was still in the process. I got my ‘E’ number when I was transferred to Amritsar Hall Bazaar).

The Manager’s residence in Azad Nagar Society was locked for more than three months as Murti was yet to get accommodation at Bombay and to shift his belongings. RB Aggarwal, the Regional Manager, Nagpur was so frustrated that he had to tell me a lie that manager’s residence at Ahmedabad was vacant and he told me that he had got it confirmed from the SRM Ahmedabad and I could take my luggage. Incidentally, because of  Scale IV interview I had to come via Delhi I could not bring my luggage and family, other wise I would have been put to great difficulties. Murti told me frankly that he would vacate the residence only when he would get it in Bombay and it could take months as it not easy to get accommodation at Bombay.  I continued to live alone in the accommodation at Gandhi Road branch in isolation for months. Despite my positive attitude, rational thinking and firm convictions that I got what was destined sometimes my emotions were not within my control and I used to weep for hours in isolation occasionally especially on holidays when I was all alone.  It was not because of my unwarranted transfer, nor for that I was not going to be selected to scale IV but because I was in a quandary to decide  what further  action I should take in the battle in which I was thrust because of my honesty, dedication and devotion at the hands of the criminals. Subsequently after the marriage of my daughter Rekha Nirmal (my wife) joined me to break my isolation. We had arranged a kerosene stove to cook the food at home. Once Amrit Lal Chadha my cousin’s husband came Ahmedabad and we invited him at Dinner. We forgot that he was a heart patient. He climbed the stairs and felt a little exhausted.  He subsequently complained me that I should not have invited him if he was to clime so many steps and my accommodation was at the second floor. I expressed my regrets for having forgotten that aspect. Thank God he did not have any problem.

In the office I found Members of the staff was very nice and respectful. I used to call them by name by prefixing ji’ or ‘Sahib’ against their names. Onkar Singh Nahal was the president of strong, militant Employees union of the Region. He was known as brain of the Employees Union (AIBEA) for militant activities. He was Special Assistant in my office but he was very respectful to me. Nahal was doing side business on small scale and used to bring hosiery and woolen goods during winter from Ludhiana. Bipan Valand was the General Secretary of the Employees Union. He was known for the execution of the militant activities. He was working at some other branch (earlier he was in this branch and there had been some problems). He often used to come to my branch to see Nahal.  Valand met me number of times but with no problem. But there was such a terror for the branch that no manager or the officer was willing to be posted in this branch. My posting from ARM, Nagpur to Sr. Manager Maskati Market was made under well thought plan to keep me disturbed and teach me a lesson and avenge. The planners were RB Aggarwal RM Nagpur and GB Singh Sr. Manager Staff, Zonal Office and the executor was Jalani the AGM (ZM).as Maskati Market was known as the most notorious branch of the Weston Zone (Bombay) and the officers were working in very low spirit.

I used to reach the office around 10.30 a.m. half-an hour before the working of the branch was to start. In my early days in the branch I often used visit to the individuals at their seats and ask about their well being and also used to ask if they had any problem. Subsequently I continued to visit their seats occasionally.  One thing I found unique in the male staff members was that before entering the gate of the branch they used to bow their head and touch the entrance with their right hands fingers and then they would touch these fingers to their forehead in reverence as we in the north we used to find the people while entering the religious place or the business keepers  to place of their business. There had been no occasion when any one  member the staff had to speak loud or unpleasant in the branch. Working was very smooth and normal and there was sense of mutual respect. The routine at the branch was not heavy  and customers were a few.

I had one stenographer, PA Shah who had no work except to take dictation from me and to type it.  He would not type any hand written letter of any one. Customary he used to visit my cabin in the morning to know if I had anything to dictate. There had been a few occasions when I had to give him dictation.  I usually used to tell him to sit and used to order two cups of tea which were brought in small cups and these cups were covered with another saucers and part of the tea was splattered in the lower saucers. I used to throw this split tea before taking it. Shah told me that there was a Gujarati custom that a cup with the two saucers was one set of tea which was meant for the three persons. (I used to take that the upper saucer was meant for covering the tea from fly or dust). He told me that the guests were served tea in the saucers and the host used to take the tea in the cup and all the three would sip this small quantity of tea.  Serving of the tea in saucers was honour to the guests. I told him that split tea in saucer was not taken by us. He suggested me that while placing order for tea I should ask for ‘do ardi chai’ (two half cups of tea). In future whenever I needed tea I used to order for ‘ardi chai (half cup of tea)’. The tea in small cups was spicy and very tasty though the cups and saucers were very small and were not so clean.

Shah had knowledge of Astrology.  Once while he was sitting before me he asked me my date of birth and I gave him my date of birth and simultaneously I drew my ‘Kundli’ to him. He used to tell many things which I did not believe and it has no applicability on me but since I was free and  I did not have any work to do I used to listen to him. Most of the time he used to suck the enzyme tablets and he used to tell me that that were good for the stomach. I told him that unless he had any problem he should avoid taking such tablets as these could have adverse effect on his body. The way I explained him he accepted my suggestion and stopped taking these tablets. When he used to reach home he would put a wet towel on his head though out. He told me that his head become very hot after coming home in the evening and wetting his head used to give him relief.  Shah had three sons and one daughter. His second son was a little mentally disturbed. He usually used to rebuke and scold him and beat him all most daily. One day when he came to the office he was very much disturbed. Immediately after coming to the office he entered my cabin. I found he was looking very much tired and exhausted. He told me that he had come to office after beating his son with strong sticks and further told me that he wanted to kill him that morning. He wished that his son should have died. I tried to calm him down and asked him to sit and arranged water and tea for him. I tried to convince him that the boy has no fault. I asked him when he believed in the stars  and also believe that  man’s actions are influenced by the stars he should find out the particular  star which was affecting his unwanted behavior and advised him that he should find out the solution to calm down that star. This logic appealed to him and he promised not to touch his son in future but would do some thing for the ‘Mar’ (Mangal) which was cause of his undesired behavior. (I am not aware what actually he did but did not talk to me about this trouble after that).

Once,  Arjan Chawala, the manager, Ashram Road told me, “As friend I advise you to be beware of PA Shah as had already put many Managers in trouble and  he was not honest in typing the dictated letters  and he would add some lines or words which had already put some managers in trouble”. This was also confirmed by some other staff members of my office. One day while he was taking tea with me, I told him, ‘Shah Sahib I had been forewarned about your mischievous behavior and have been told that while typing the dictations you add some undesirable words and put the managers in trouble.’ I further told him. ‘Shah Sahib, I had firm conviction that no body can harm me unless it is so destined and no one can save me, even my best alertness if it is destined otherwise.’  Shah confessed that he had put two previous Managers in trouble because as per him they were wicked and dishonest but he assured me that he would not do anything which could harm me. I further told him that while typing my letters  he was at liberty to suggest me any thing which according him was better and appropriate or could carry more weight but he was not to add even  coma  (,) from his side without my permission. Shah and members of his family always were nice and they used to take care of me and my family though out the period I stayed at Ahmedabad. Number of times he used to send his children to my residence to ensure if I had any work or problem. On their visit they used to offer to wash my cloths and clean the house but I tactfully used to avoid taking any work from them. Number of times he used to force me to take meals at his house when I was alone. Otherwise taking of my meals was not regular and I could miss them often and remained without lunch or dinner when I was alone.    

The balances of the branch were not tallied for the last many years and it was cause of great concern for the Head Office. The branch had deputed one clerk exclusively for tallying the balances but the progress was at snail’s pace. The Head Office was so serious that they asked the Zonal Manager for his recommendation for speedy clearance of the back log on priority basis. Jalani, the Zonal Manager, Bombay had recommended for creation of one independent cell at the branch under the charge of one Manager with one Accountant and two clerks and copy of this letter was endorsed to the branch. Despite of the fact I was victimized and was hurt badly I did not allow my devotion to work die. I called Navneet Bhai Shah, an accountant that I wanted to entrust him with a challenging job and told him that tallying  of the balances was not an easy job which could be done by any one. I told him that it was he who could do the job with the assistance of the clerk. As two hands were essential for calling and tallying the balances and there could be better output I entrusted this job to Shah with clerk who was tallying the balances. Some time I myself used to devote some time with them and used to draw the plan how they should start. To start with I advised them to check the day books first and ensure that these were actually tallied with help of long books and then ensure that the balances were correctly carried to Progressive Books. While tallying the balances it was found that number of times the days-books were tallied by debiting ‘suspense’ and crediting ‘sundry’ whenever there was any difference. This was very serious for me and told them to locate the difference with the help of the vouchers and long books of that day and there was visible progress also.

As told earlier I used to reach my office before 10.30 am and I used to go though the files and papers as this was peaceful time in the branch as the staff used to come just a little before 11 O’clock and I used to keep the banking hours spare for the customers and the staff.  One day as usual I was sitting in my office and was so absorbed in some files that I did not notice if any body had entered my cabin but suddenly I felt that some one was standing before me. When I raised my head I found Rashid Jalini, the Zonal Manager was standing before me. On seeing him I stood up abruptly and wished him and said sorry I could not notice his coming. He sat down before me and asked me what the office time for the staff were. I told him it was from 11.00 to 6.00 and he then asked me what the banking hours were. I told him that these were 11.00 to 3.00. He remarked how it is? I did not respond. Exactly five minutes after 11.00, he called for the Attendance Register from the Hall and entered the banking Hall leaving the attendance register at my table. He found everybody was at his seat and doing the work. He could not believe it. While I was introducing him to the staff he picked up a few books from the counter to verify the date of entries in the books. The way he took and looked the books from different seats it appeared that he thought the books before them were of the previous date as he could not believe that there can be some entries of date in just five minutes. When  he entered my cabin it was 10-45 am and  he was astonished to see that not only  the staff was at their seats but were working also. A couple of customers were also there in the hall. He came back to my cabin and checked the attendance register again  and all those present in hall had marked their presence and there were two or three who were actually on leave.

There after he discussed with me about the tallying of the balances and I told him the progress and also told him how the Day Books were being tallied with the help of Suspense entries but it looked he knew it and was not surprised over it.  I also told him that I had seen the letter in which he had recommended to the HO for creation of the special cell. I told him, to give me the staff  he had recommended to the HO except the manager and I would get the job done before his  expectation. He told me that he knew that I could manage it but did not commit for giving me the extra staff for this purpose as he had proposed to the Head Office.  However, I did not talk of my victimisation and how much damage he had done to me. There was no sign of frustration on my face also.  I was composed as usual. At the same times there was no sign of any regrets on his face also for his wrong actions.   However, he asked me how my interview for scale IV was; I told him that the chairman had asked me in the interview that ‘I was running a parallel administration in the Regional Office at Nagpur’. He told me that the thing would be normalized as he had sent the correct revised report to the Head Office and RB Aggarwal was being removed as Regional Manager from Nagpur.  But it was no consolation to me as he had already damaged my career by giving wrong feed back to the Chairman. One thing I could not understand why he had chosen my branch for inspection immediately after a few days of my joining the branch.

After a few days I received a DO letter from Jalani giving reference of his visit to my office with a line of appreciation; ‘I am happy to observe that your office started working at dot’. Further he expressed his hope that I would get the balance tallied with speed and wrote me that had he been in my place he would have accepted the challenge. (Very strange, he still had no regrets for humiliation and the mental torture I had to suffer because of his wrong action.  I am sure, had any one other then me been my place he would have either gone mad or would have resigned). My temperament was neither to retaliate nor to allow my spirit to slow down. After a few days I learnt that RB Aggarwal was transferred to Bombay as OSD (Official on special duty) and the regular charges were being framed against him. Rao who was earlier Regional Manager at shimla was posted as RM in his place.        

The result of my interview was on the expected lines in the first week of May, 83. I was not selected for Scale IV. I made an appeal to the Chairman against my non- selection in routine even though I was not expecting any thing favorable to come.  As usual there was no response also (I knew it also). Arjun Chawla was leader of the Officer Association. He was master in appeasing, pleasing and be-fooling the senior officers. When ever Jalani used to come he would call him ‘Khan Sahib’ and used to say many words in his praise. He had a tout, Prabhkar, an accountant in his office and to whom he was using as a tool to exploit the others officers and for praising him. Chawla was showing sympathies with me also and he took a copy of my appeal and told me that he would get me the justice through Officer Association and through Jalani but I knew, inwardly he was jealous and was making fool of me and he never wanted that I could get any recognition.

Chawla was exploiting the SRM and ZM both with out making them feel. Once, there was complaint against Chawala and the Head Office wanted the matter be got investigated.  Chawla got the investigation marked to my name assuming that as he was be-fooling me of his help and I would write to his tune. I got a vague letter from the SRM (Narayan) that there were certain charges against Chawala and I should investigate them and submit my report. I wrote back to the SRM that I may be told the parameters under which I should make the enquiry as I have not been told of the charges against Chawla. I received a reply from the SRM what guidelines be given to me when I had worked as Assistant Regional Manager. It was just a satirical remark against me. I did reply but ultimately they had to mark the enquiry to Rao, Senior Manager Baroda by giving him the full fact of the case.                            

Naryanan was transferred to Delhi and in his place SK Uppal took over as Regional Manager. Uppal prior to his posting as Regional Manager Gujarat was Chief Manager, Industrial Area Ludhiana. Once Jalani came for manager’s meeting and he could not get confirmed return ticket for Bombay. The flight for Bombay was to go in the evening. Khan Sahib asked Chawla during the meeting that he should go to the airport and get his ticket confirmed. Chawla told him instantly that that was a very small job and told him that he would get his ticket confirmed as he had good links with every one at Airport  He told him that he should get his luggage ready and he would get the confirmed ticket just by going there. While he was going to the Air Port Uppal the Regional Manager told me that I should accompany Chawla. As desired, I accompanied Chawala to the Air Port. Chawla instead of going to any counter or office at the Airport took  me to the Canteen for taking coffee. I told him that first he should get the ticket confirmed. He told me that I should not worry about the ticket and he would get it done and it was his job and he told me to enjoy the coffee. After taking the coffee I once again reminded him about the confirmation of the ticket. He said, ‘Sethi Sahib don’t worry about the confirmation’.  He then took me around the Air port just for strolling. After about an hour he went to the telephone booth and telephoned Jalani that the Air Port In- charge had manipulated the confirmation for him and he had told him that his was at number two only in the waiting list. Again after half-an-hour he again phoned Jalani telling that his number was at one only and we were coming with the confirmed ticket. When only half-an-hour left for the check- in, Chawala again phoned Jalani saying, Sorry Khan Sahib when the In-charge was just going to confirm our ticket a VIP had come and he had expressed his regrets. ‘Sorry Khan Sahib you have to stay for a night at Ahmedabad and now you could go next morning.’ We went back. He smiling returned the ticket to Jalani and told him, how much he had to toiled to get the ticket confirmed but I remained a silent spectator.  Wonderful! How boldly he was telling a lie and Jalani was blind of this tailored story and Chawala was still to enjoy his patronage. All this happened before me and I was wondering how clever and bold he was and making fool of Jalani and he had no fear that I could tell the factual position. Perhaps, he knew that I could not speak when I already had tasted the fruit of speaking the truth. But this incidence added to my knowledge how people can be be-fooled with this wonderful art. I was trying to co-relate my victimisation at the hands of such like people whose chemistry was the same.

The marriage of my eldest daughter, Rekha was fixed for 23rd April, 83 when I was neither at Nagpur nor at Ahmedabad. While I had joined by my duties at Ahmedabad, my luggage was still at Nagpur and my family was at Chandigarh.  I could not arrange any money for the marriage of my daughter so far. I got Loan against PF but it could meet a friction of the expected expenditure. I never had a bank balance. Only less than a month was left. I reached Chandigarh and decided to sell my Car and Yamuna Nagar House. The car was purchased with bank finance at 10 % margin and with zero percent interest. The entire loan installments had already been paid and it was still at Nagpur  The house which was built with bank loan & 4 % was also unencumbered.  While we were going to Yamuna Nagar from Chandigarh on the way we stopped at Ambala to meet Janak (sister of Nirmal) for a few hours and during the discussion between Nirmal and Janak about arrangements for the marriage of Rekha it might had been disclosed by Nirmal (my wife) that we were going to sell Yamuna Nagar house.  Bhusan Oberoi (Janak’s husband) was at his shop and I had gone to his shop to meet him. When I met him he instantly asked me if I was going to sell my residential house. I told him that it was not final but I was just thinking of  that. He advised me that I should not sell the house and instead I should sell the car and he offered Rs.15, 000/- instantly and assured me that he would give me more help if need be. His giving of Rs.15, 000/- gave me much strength. (The entire money taken from him was returned with the proceeds of R.D account after a long time when I was RM at Ferozpur).

We went Yamuna Nagar to see Promila (Nirmal’s sister) and Dr. Sondhi (her husband) at Mustfabad to invite them for the marriage and also to tell them their one big iron box was locked in our house and they could come next day and take possession of the same as we were to leave Yamuna Nagar the following day. The box contained some cloths, utensils and some other small items of Promila.  We came to know that there was a talk in our relations that we might utilise Promila’s goods for the marriage of Rekha. The following day no body came to take possession of the box. As no body came and we wanted to return Chandigarh we placed the box in our Verandah safely and told our friend ND Gomber who was looking after my interest at Yamuna Nagar that he might send the message to Promilla that she could take her box from our house and keys of the house were with him and moreover one tenant, Chopra was also living in my house. We wanted to escape from one charge but subsequently we were charged that we had thrown her box out. Before returning Chandigarh I asked Chopra, our tenant if he could give us advance Rs.10,000/- against the rent which he readily agreed.

Before leaving Nagpur I already had a talk with the motor mechanic who had overhauled my car that I had a mind to sell the car and requested him to find some suitable customer and he may tell my friend Chatrath, the Senior Manager BO Kingsway, Nagpur. This mechanic was introduced to me by Chatrath. I phoned Chatrath to know if there was any purchaser for my car.  He told me that there was one customer ready to purchase my car for Rs. 47000/- and I could come and finalised the deal.  I sent my son Rakesh to Nagpur with all the papers and Power of Attorney  to finalise the deal and to take the money. The purchaser gave him Rs.45,000/- but with-held Rs.2,000/- which he told that he would give after the registration of the car was transferred to Nagpur as my Car was registered at Chandigarh. I told Rakesh, my son to get the registration transferred to Nagpur but he could not get it done and resultantly the purchaser had to get the registration transferred through some Agent and deducted Rs.1000/- and the balance of Rs.1000/- was recovered by Chatrath subsequently with great difficulties.

I immediately sent Nirmal to Delhi to purchase the necessary jewelry and cloths and told her to the seek help of massi Ram Piari and my sister Kamla. My massar ji helped her in purchasing the necessary jewelry as he was in this line. Ram Parkash, my brother-in-law and Kamla helped her in purchasing and making of cloths. Nirmal told me that after the purchase of the cloth she became short of about 200/ to 300/- rupees but Kamla told Nirmal that she would not be able to help her presently. Resultantly Nirmal had to go Rajinder Nagar from Karol Bagh on foot and took the money from Mrs. Latawa wife of my friend Dev Raj Latawa who was Manager at Lakshmi Commercial Bank, Karol Bagh Delhi. The money was returned to them later on when she met. {I am not sure this incident could be at the time of Promilla-Nirmal’ sister marriage}.

I got the invitation cards printed at Chandigarh and also purchased the furniture form Salvo Furniture with the hope that he would give good quality and would charge reasonable rates as he was approved supplier of furniture to our bank and was well known to me personally. My friend ML Goel who had worked with me for three times was very help full. He took all the responsibility of making arrangement for the reception of baraat including ‘Shaminanas’ and other local purchases. Bhasins (my daughter’s in-laws) desired that the marriage should be of the day time. We were living in Sector-37 in a small two room rented house which was close to residence of Chander Mohan Bhasin, brother of  Ravinder Bhasin (my son-in-law) and Bhasins were to bring baraat from there. My friend BR Kamal of Kamal Engineering Works sent the car from Yamuna Nagar for a few days and his brother Krisan Lal Gadh got prepared the sweets (Pinis) from Bharat Mishthan Bhandar the known halwais (sweet makers) of Yamuna Nagar to be given to the relatives as ‘bhaji’. (Because of heat and humidity some of our relatives complained when they reached home that it was giving foul smell and the packets which were left with us were also telling the same story).  Just before the marriage there were heavy rains and the climate was a little cold and we had to arrange for blankets and other winter beds etc. As this was the first marriage in my family almost all my relatives reached. My eldest Maternal Uncle Mangal Sain Sahni and Mami Raj Rani also came there despite of their old age. My sister Promilla’s mother-in-law came with the condition that no body would laugh at her as she exceptionally fat. Ravi Malhotra who was engaged to Renu also attended the function.

A day before we went to Chander Mohan Basin’s house to give ‘Shagan’ and the ‘Shagan’ was given through my maternal Uncle Mangal Sain who was the eldest in our family. Promilla and Janak (Nirmal’s sisters) did not join the marriage. However, Bhushan Oberai (husband of Janak) came. He neither offered more money nor did I ask for, as I was feeling safe at that time. With his initial help I could start the preparation of the marriage. I could return his money after a long time when I was at Ferozepur I opened the recurring account in my name at Ambala Cant branch where I used to remit the monthly installments and at it maturity I gave him a surprise by remitting the amount.

A day before the marriage I was again empty pocket. Avinash Jaiswal and Keshav Khurana came to my house and asked me if any money was needed by me? I told them if they can lend me Rs.5000/-  conveniently,  it would be nice of them and I told them I would return the money after the marriage. Though they promised to send the money by night but they could not send the money till night and I was a little perturbed.  The baraat was come in the morning and I was empty pocket. Early in the morning around 7 am I sent Rakesh to my friend RL Prabhakar (Principal, New Bank of India  Staff  Training College) to bring Rs.2000/- from him. When Rakesh went to his house he had just arrived from Bombay. On demand Prabhakar immediately gave Rakesh Rupees 2000/- . When Rakesh brought the money I had a sigh of relief. Around 9 O’clock in the morning Khurana came and gave me Rs.5,000/-.  I immediately send Rs.2000/- back to Prabhakar.

The marriage was very simple, as it was day marriage.  More over, Ravinder had put conditions to his parents that he would not sit on the horse, nor would he go with band Baja in procession. Most of my old colleagues of Chandigarh and others known in the bank circle came even though I could not send the invitation cards to all. The collection of the ‘Shagan’  from friends and relatives was sufficient to meet the arrangement of the reception. Later  Khurana did not accept Rs.5000/- despite my persuasions.  I reminded him that I took this money on the understanding that I would return him but he did not accept the money.  Krishan Lal Gadh also shared many expenses despite my request he did not take the money. His brother, Kamal gave me reasonable good amount in Shagan. When I left Chandigarh I did not owe any one except the money I borrowed from my friends and relatives which I was to pay gradually.

When we had come for the marriage of Rekha we had requested Malhotras that we would like to give ‘Shagan’ of Renu (my younger daughter). They preferred to take ‘Shagan’ at Ghaziabad (UP) at their ancestral House though Malhotra (Renu’s Father-in-law) was District Magistrate at Uttar Kashi. We gathered at my Massi Rampiari’s house at Darya Ganj, Delhi. My friend, Bihari Lal Narang who come from Phagwara (Punjab) at Rekha’s marriage at Chandigarh and I told him to bring sweets from ‘Lovely’ Sweet Jallandher as  I thought these would be cheap and of reasonable quality, especially ‘Ladoos’. ‘Ladoos’ were Rs.11/- per kg. Though  ‘Chhena’s (cheese) items were purchased from Bengali. Market, New Delhi,  Fruits basket was taken from Darya Gang, Delhi.  My cousin Anil Sethi  made all these arrangements. With all the material we went Ghaziabad by train and went to the house of my cousin Suman Kohli which was close to the Ghaziabad station. From here we took  Cycle Rickshaws for Malhotras residence. After the ‘Shagan Ceremony’ we were served Lunch. After giving ‘Shagan’ we came back Delhi by train but I was feeling uneasy. My conscious was pricking that I should not have brought the ‘sweets’ from Jallandhar as it had   taken more than 24 hours to reach Ghaziabad. The sweets given in the ‘Shagan’ were not to any standard especially to that of Malhotras who was IAS officer and was holding a high position of District Magistrate (Deputy Commissioner). The second lapse was our going in procession on Cycle Rickshaws which was not dignified. At least we should have hired taxis from Delhi to reach their house to give ‘Shagan’. It happened because there was crunch of money and non- application of my mind.  Even though they never showed any adverse feelings  or passed any stricture at any time even later also but it still pricks my mind often.

From Delhi we straight went to Nagpur to bring our household belongs as TV Murti had vacated the house by this time. I could get the accommodation with land lord’s certain conditions that I would vacate the house after my transfer from this place or after one year which ever is earlier and  I would not hand over the keys of the house to my successor. I had no other option but to accept his conditions as I was not getting any other alternative accommodation and I wanted to bring my luggage from Nagpur immediately  A local transporter told me as our luggage was not much he would bring the luggage with some other goods and it would cost me less as they had regular service between Nagpur and Ahmedabad. We left Ahmedabad by Air via Bombay  When we reached Bombay  there was no flight for Ahmedabad and were to get the flight next evening. At night we had to stay in a very cheap and dirty lodge near Air Port as I could not afford a reasonable good hotel. In the morning we hired one Taxi for Rs.100/- which was to take us to all the important sight seeing places of Bombay and would give us a time to visit Alephhanta Caves. We went and came back from Alephanta Caves in a ferry from Gate Way of India. In the evening the Taxi Driver dropped us at the Air Port and by night we were at Ahmedabad. As we had not received our luggage even after two three days I went to the transporter to bring my luggage. There I found my luggage was dumped under heavy transporter’s goods and most of our furniture was mutilated, the legs of the dinning table were broken. When the luggage was brought we found that the doors of the house were so small that the dinning table could not be pushed in side the residence. With the result it had to be kept in the back small Verandah, the space of which was smaller that the table even. There was no boundary wall even but we had to compromise with the situation as I could not find any alternative accommodation within in my entitlement.

Some times in the month of June/ July, 83 I was again called for interview for Scale IV. I was never expecting that the interview could be so soon. Normally the interviews for Scale IV used to be  held once in two years. I went for the interview but again I was not selected. It might have been that I was lacking in the preparation for the interview but the shadow of Nagpur episode was also had not faded.  Though I was working in the office in good spirit with the usual smiling appearance and there had been no as sign of frustration on my face but I had lost my concentration and faith in the management. Again there was interview sometimes in October, 83 but I was not called. As per rules the candidate who could not clear the two successive interviews were not called for the third interview.  In this interview JK Bedi, the manager,BO Gandhi Road got the chance and was selected and was posted as Chief Manager BO Industrial Area,Ludhiana.

On 16th October, 83 marriage of my second daughter Renu was fixed at Chandigarh, just six months after the marriage of my daughter Rekha. I had could take nominal loan against provident fund and now there was no other source visible either. Earlier at the marriage of my daughter I had sold my car, took advance from the tenant and my brother-in-law Bhushan Oberai also gave me Rs.15, 000/-. My friend Khurana gave me 5000/- which I wanted to return but he did not accept.  My friend Krishan Lal Gadh also shared some expenses. How much under stain I was no body in my family even knew. My mind was under great stress.

Ultimately, I telephoned my friend and colleague MR Goel at Chandigarh to make arrangement for the reception of the Baraat, booking of Halvai,  Shaminanas, Crockery, decoration, provisions and other necessary things and told him that  to pay the advance where ever it was necessary and I would settle the accounts after the marriage. Goel assured me that before I would reach Chandigarh all the arrangement would be ready but he told me that a day before the marriage of Renu, his brother’s Ashok marriage had been fixed and the baraat was to go out of Chandigarh but he assured me that immediately after the reception of his brother he would leave his brother’s marriage and would reach Chandigarh to take care of Renu’s marriage.

Whatever little money I could manage I started the purchases of the Sarees etc. locally and from Surat.  Mr. and Mrs. Harish Goswami who was dealing in rayon thread but were bank defaulters in one chemical unit named Sahas Dying and Chemicals Ltd, in which he was the working partner but Somanis had the main interest. The couple used to visits us every now and then without any business. They were very helpful in the purchases. They helped us to purchase one big gold- plated set also. Apparently which was looking like a pure gold set of heavy amount I was afraid that Ravi’s relatives might not take it a real gold set and subsequent it might create a problem for Renu when it would be known to them that that was a artificial Set. I decided to tell Ravi’s mother before the marriage that the set given in the dowry was not of a pure gold but it was gold plated. Later before marriage when I told her, she did not mind my telling the factual position. I cannot recall the name of the bank’s party who gave me ‘Sumeet Mixy’ as gift at the marriage of Renu. The same party had given same set earlier also at the marriage of Rekha when hardly I had just joined Ahmedabad saying that that was their custom.  I did not give the invitation cards to any Bank parties and even to individually to my staff members.

We came Chandigarh via Kota as Nikhal’s (my brother’s son) ‘mundan’ were in last week of  September 1983. One of our iron boxes was heavy which contained the purchases we made at Ahmedabad.  Vijay (brother) had come at Kota station to receive us. When we had taken the Auto Rickshaw the Octroi man insisted that we should open the box and pay the octroi. We told him that we were going Chandigarh and the box contained the goods in connection with the marriage of my daughter and we would be going after two three days but He did not agree and ultimately we had to deposit the box in Clock room at Kota railway station.

After Nikhal’s ‘mundan’ we came Chandigarh. I had no other option than to borrow again from Bhushan Oberai . Before the marriage Nirmal’s mother and sister Janak came to Chandigarh to discuss how we would be able to meet the marriage expenses. However some help came from Nirmal’s mother as ‘Chhak’.  More conditional help was offered to tide over the difficulties if we agreed to invite Kiran (youngest sister of Nirmal) but I refused to accept there conditional help.  With the result neither the money committed by them came nor did Promilla and Janak came  to attend the marriage. Nirmal asked me, ‘how it will happen’ and I told her, ‘see how it happens.’  However my mother-in-law, Kamala, (Nirmal’s sister) Jagdish Uppal and Bhushan Oberai her brother-in-law joined the marriage function.  About Rs.5, 000/- I got from old colleague ML Sachdeve on account of Rakesh. All the minimum essential jewelry was purchased from Khananas at Chandigarh with the help Mrs. Raj Oberai d/o Capt Mulakh Raj Anand cousin of my grand father. Raj’s daughter was married in Khanna’s family. We gave some jewelry of Nirmal along with money in advance and balance was paid after the marriage. Mrs. Raj was living just opposite to the house where we had taken two room set on rent from my old colleague BD Sandal. We had to store all the milk products to her house as we were short of space and there was no fridge with us. I loved my children alike but I used to weep occasionally  just thinking that Renu would be going now, knowing well that the daughters are to go from their parent’s house one day but it did not happen in case of my elder daughter Rekha.  it was not that I love her less. Renu was an ambassador of our family and she was looking after the liaison work of my family and apart from being my daughter she was my friend also.

My youngest brother Vinod’s marriage was also fixed on 9th October.1983. There were three functions with a small-gap in our family. At the marriage of my brother Vinod my brother-in-law Ram Parkash suggested my mother that let ‘Pal’ (my nick name) make the purchases of the jewelry for Vinod also as I was making arrangements for the jewelry for Renu. The matter did not come to me direct but Vinod handled the matter and met all the expenses of his marriage. There was heavy rain when the baraat was to reach bride’s house. Most of the baraatis took shelter from the rain but  being the eldest in the family I was supposed to accompany Vinod and we were badly drenched. Immediately after his marriage I rushed back to Chandigarh to manage Renu marriage with some borrowed money. The function was very big and resources were scanty. I my self did not know how it would happen. I was assured that at least the reception part had been managed by Goel. Expenditure on furniture was postponed as we were to provide the furniture at the place of Ravi’s posting. All the necessary Jewelry and cloths were almost purchased. But just an hour before the baraat was to come  suddenly there was bold from the blue,  the Ice cream vender who came to deliver  the ice cream bricks and demanded Rs.700/- or 900/- cash. I told him that we would pay the bill next day but he told that he could deliver the ice cream bricks only against the cash payment. I was very much disturbed as I had not have this much money with me even. I used to keep my brother Vijay at all the marriages with me and he used to move with me like my shadow. So far no ‘shagan’ had come as the function was to start after an hour. I was going in the house to see from whom I could take this money. Vijay who was accompanying me immediately understood my plight and told me that he had money and he took out the money from his pocket and gave the money to the vender. (This money I used to remit Vijay in installments to Kota through bank transfer despite his resistance to take the money back but my only logic to him was that this money was borrowed by me.

The political situation in Punjab was very bad because of militants’ nuisance. Many of my relatives could not come due to fear. The attendance of the local staff members was also thin as compared with the attendance at the time of Rekha’s marriage. At the time of ‘Lawa Pheres’ after the reception, Rekha and Ravinder left to Ravinder’s brother house. Being eldest member of my family Rekha should have helped in the function and even other wise her presence was essential being her elder sister and eldest member of my family but they preferred to leave. She could stay at least would have stayed  and had allowed Ravinder to go if he wanted to take rest. I never noticed that she had any regrets for it even thereafter. My friend Goel had returned Chandigarh leaving his brother’s marriage in mid-way to supervise the arrangement and to finalise the bills. The ‘Shagan’ envelops used to remain in the custody of Vijay and day after the marriage we totaled the amount. This time the amount of the ‘Shagans’ was significantly less even to settle the bills. Goel after settling the bills he took one month from the ‘tent and shamina dealer after making some amount to him which was the substantial amount which I subsequently remitted from Ahmedabad.  Two days after the marriage there was reception at Uttarkashi arranged by Malhotras. I sent Rakesh to attend the function but I cannot recall if we could send any respectable gift at the function as I was very much confused and disturbed for obvious reasons.

Rakesh when he was working as Mini collector had developed some relations with a working girl Sweety d/o Mrs Soni of Sector-23. Whenever, I used to come Chandigarh he used to insist that I should meet Mrs. Soni as she had desired to meet me but I was reluctant to meet her as I knew she might be interested to talk about the marriage alliance. I neither had money nor was I interested in the family for some obvious reasons. But ultimately Rakesh succeeded in taking me to her house. I met Mrs. Soni and told her frankly that I did not have a plan for the marriage of Rakesh for the time being as I had to marry my daughters first.  After coming from their house I made it clear to Rakesh also that I was not interested in his marriage in the family but he continued to keep his relations with the family. When I came at Rekha’s marriage I got a hint that he wanted that his marriage may be solemnised before Rekha’s marriage. (Though Rakesh though never confronted me directly but I got this message though my friend Prabhakar). Though he was doing what ever he was told but was not taking any initiative in Rekha’s marriage. Some times when I used to be under stains, I used to sit in the secluded place in one side for a few minutes so that no body could see my gloomy face. Once I was caught unaware by my sister Nirmal when I was sitting on one side, she asked me what the matter was. Initially I told her smiling that I was just taking rest. But during the talk she could extract that I was under strain because of Rakesh’s behavior. He suggested that her sister-in-law and her two sons Ram and Sham were living in Jammu and their ‘Guru ji’ may help to solve the problem. Yash Pal Chadha my brother-in-law also came during the discussion and offered to go with me to Jammu. I wanted some solace; we went Jammu and visited their Guru Ji. Ram his nephew accompanied us but I could get any satisfactory solution and returned.

When I was at Ahmedabad I received message that Rakesh had eaten some thing from a person who was bitten by the Dog. Soni family took advantage of this and took Rakesh to their house on the pretext to give him treatment leaving my other children at home. Though I was very much worried about Rakesh but I could not digest the behavior of the family to exploit the situation. If they had any sympathy with Rakesh they should have sympathy with my other members of family also. They did come to our house and could take care of him time to time. Such girl could be a part of Rakesh but could never become part of our family. I saw her behavior after Rekha’s marriage when she wanted that only Rakesh should take her to her home when Rakesh was busy with some work. I offered her that Rajeev would leave her to her home but she insisted for Rakesh. I had to tell Rakesh to leave her to her house leaving the work he was doing.

I was again called for the Scale IV interview in the  fourth round  before Renu’s marriage when I came Chandigarh my friend Prabhakar, (Principal, New Bank of India staff training college) came to receive me at the Airport instead of Rakesh. When ever I used to come Chandigarh by Air it was Rakesh who used to come at the Air Port to receive me and used to take me home on his scooter. I asked Prabhakar why Rakesh had not come.  He told me that he had sent him somewhere.  Prabhakar brought me to my place in his own car and told me that he intentionally had kept Rakesh away as he was very much frustrated. Prabhakar advocated that I should agree to his marriage with Sweaty and he told me that he did not want to discuss the matter at the Airport immediately on my arrival in presence of Rakesh. He told me that he thought it would be better to discuss with me in a peaceful atmosphere and told me that he did not want Rakesh to confront me.  I told Prabhakar that if Rakesh was so adamant, tell him that I had no objection in his marrying her but I would neither be party nor I would keep any relation with him there after. Prabhakar told me that he could commit suicide. I told Prabhakar that if he so wanted tell him to commit suicide today and why to wait for the other day. My sister Nirmal who was sitting there, she endorsed my views and Prabhakar was stunned to hear this from my sister also.

Rakesh was in partnership with Ashok Sachdeva s/o my friend ML Sachdeva. Sachdeva had invested all the money in this project and not a single penny was invested by us but Rakesh was equal partner with Ashok, his son.   During the marriage of Renu,  Sachdeva came to my place and told me about the affairs of the factory. Sachdeva alleged that Rakesh was not giving the accounts of the payments he had received on behalf of the factory. He offered if Rakesh wanted to run the factory he could take it but I told him that Rakesh cannot take the factory as he had no money and moreover it was his money with which the factory was being run. Incidentally Rakesh also came there and I advised him to withdraw from the factory but Rakesh was not prepared to leave the factory. Sachdeva offered some amount also as a gesture of good will. Ultimately Rakesh agreed to sign the desolation deed against payment of Rs.15000/- Sachdeva gave that amount to me and in turn I retained Rs.5000/- for the marriage of Renu and gave Rs.10, 000/- to Rakesh. I advised Rakesh that he should not do any thing in haste and should accompany me to Ahmedabad for some time and then we would think what he should do next but he did not agree.

I knew that Rakesh would become restless after leaving the factory, as a day before he was an industrialist and now he was nothing. He was flying high. He had had false ambitions and a great circle of friends to whom he would not be able to face. I never wanted that he should feel frustrated and that was why I wanted he should accompany us to Ahmedabad. At Ahmedabad he may get an opportunity to work and even if he wanted to come back to Chandigarh to do the same business there would be certain gap and his mind would stabilised. He did not agree to go with us and preferred to remain alone at Chandigarh.  After a few months he managed to get bank defaulted unit HK Engineering Work with the help of my friend Kamlesh Sharma who was Manager BO Sector-28. The Unit was also manufacturing machine screws but it was closed for the last many years. The machinery too was not in a working conditions and the unit had many outside liabilities also besides bank loan with heavy overdue. He wanted to become an industrialist at par with Ashok Sachdeva. He took all its liabilities which otherwise he could negotiate with the bank but he was over ambitious and was blind to its financial complications. One day I received his telephone that he would be coming on Sunday to get Guarantee Deed signed from me.  He came by Air to take my signatures and wanted to go back the same night. The Guarantee Deed had be counter signed by the Manager I called Parikh my Assistant Manager to bring Bank’s Rubber Stamp of Manager. While I signed as Guarantor Parikh signed the deed as Manager and Rakesh flew back.

After the marriage Nirmal and I came back to Ahmedabad. We left Ravi my youngest son with his maasi Janak at Ambala where he joined the college.  Though my facial expression was always pleasing and smiling as usual yet inwardly I was broken. After all I was also a human being; the quantum of strain was too heavy to bear it. Outwardly I remained composed as I had acquired a strong inward power to sustain but I was feeling very uneasy. One day just a superstition over powered me. I thought that the big wall brass plate given by RB Aggarwal (Regional Manager, Nagpur) as a gift might not be the cause of my restlessness. The very night when it was pitch dark I wrapped the gift in the waste New Papers and threw it in the near- by park  in such a way that no body could notice it and after throwing I did not looked back.  While doing this exercise I was feeling that as if I was hiding something after stealing. But from the core of my heart I believed that this entire situation was due to the bad time over which I had no control. Some times I used to think that I was the same, my actions were the same, my sincerity was the same, my devotion was the same, my behavior was the same and my attitude was the same and same was my urge to do good for  the others and the institution when I touched the heights in my career at Chandigarh. I was in quandary what to do. I was like a helpless creature.

One Sunday, I was just strolling before my house an old man who was just passing, stopped after seeing me. He introduced me that he was Dr. Shah retired Head of the Department in medicine in Government Medical College and was living just one house after ours. He took me to his house. During the discussion I found that he had knowledge of Astrology. By faith he was Jain.  Not linking or thinking to my case, I just casually asked him why the honest and good people suffer while the vicious people enjoy in their life. He told me that he believed in ‘karma’ theory. He cited me an example and told me, ‘you have must has seen a big wheat storage tank in which there are two holes. From the upper  hole we put the wheat and from the lower hole we take out the wheat. Some times it so happens that while we go on pouring wheat from the upper hole but we get millet from the lower hole’. This was not a magic. The storage tank we had got already had millet in side which we could not see it when we took it and we were only aware the wheat which we were pouring and we were not aware to the millet which already was there and was invisible. This millet was our past ‘karma’. Till the millet was not exhausted we cannot get the wheat.                                

Already said, the branch was the oldest branch of Ahmedabad. The old record of the branch was not sorted out and destroyed for the last many years. Many years back the branch had taken one Godown in a street near the bank due to paucity of space in the bank premises. One day, Vagela (Daftri) took me to this Godown. The building in which this Godown was taken was in a depleted condition. Many rain and summers had passed and no body had opened it there after. Now it was not possible to open its door even. No body could stand near the door due to the foul smell. The record dumped there in might have become garbage and mutilated and most of the record might have been destroyed automatically but it was to be declared officially.  The destruction of the old record was a very long outstanding objection in the inspection report also. Normally no sane person would have taken this dirty job in hand and my predecessors were in this category but I wanted to do what other could not do. One day, I called Vagela, the Daftri in my cabin and appreciated his nice maintenance of the branch record. (I had actually visited his record keeping place which was on the mezzanine in the hall twice or thrice). I asked him could it be possible for him to clear the old record dumped in the Godown. I told him that there was a big unutilised space in the basement of  New Cloth Market branch and told him that I already had talked with The Regional Manager to utilise that space. Vagela was reluctant initially and told me that the condition of the old record was such that it would not be possible for any one to do that dirty job and he further added that even the scavenger would not touch it. I told him that what other could not do it I wanted that it should be done by us. I suggested him to talk to some scavenger or labour who had a cart and who could carry the garbage to New Cloth Market basement and we would pay him some  extra to get this garbage spread in the hall and keep that garbage exposed to air for some times. I told him that I would compensate him to his satisfaction for this job. Ultimately he agreed to work out and brought a cart along with his labour and we settled the rates with him and work started and the door was jammed and it opened with great difficulties by the labour. The Godown was vacated and there after there was also a legal notice from the land lord to vacate the building as he wanted to demolish the building.  The basement of New Cloth Market was very big in length, width and in height. Vagela staged the stag- able books in the racks with the help of the labour. I got sufficient iron racks fitted in one corner of the Hall to make it a good record room. I sent Bhavsar an old clerk who was promoted from the subordinate staff to enter in this old record in the old record register. Bhavsar was very devoted worker and religious minded. He helped Vagela whole heatedly  I regularly used to visit to encourage them and see the progress and I suitably compensated them.

NA Parekh was the Assistant Manager and was in-charge of the hall besides looking after Current Account and passing of all other entries beyond the power of the Assistants. He had two sons and two daughters. Dr. Payush an Orthopedic Surgeon was his son, His younger son was probably studying in a college. His eldest daughter was married to Dr. Shah MD (medicine), the second daughter Roopa was studying in High School. There were four more Accountants; AP khaneja was looking after Loans including Cash Credit and Foreign Exchange. Chateli was looking after Day Book. Ashok Chouhan was looking after draft payable and clearing and two Special Assistants, OS Nahal was looking after bills and Ishwar Bhai Patel was looking after Saving Fund and Fixed Deposit. Subsequently Ashok Chauhan (Management Trainee) replaced Khaneja and Chetly was replaced by Manak Lal Patel and Parveen (assumed name) MT Accountant subsequently replaced Patel. One Accountant Navneet Bhai Shah was put on tallying of the balance. He was very helpful to me personally.  Many a times.  I had to go to God Vishnu temple which was close to his residence and he used to take me as I was new to the place. He or Manak Lal Patel also introduced me to Yashwant Bhai Patel who used to take us to various temples like Abmbha ji and many other religious places. They used to invite me for special Grarbha, Gouri puja and many other Gujarati festivals.  (otherwise Yashwant Bahai had no dealing with our bank). Bharat Bhai Shukla was the Cash Officer (a little stammering) was very co-operative. After my transfer when I had to come from Amritsar to reply the staff side of the inspection report he filled my brief case with packets of one rupee new note to debit of cash in transit account as I had no money for exchange. I neither asked for it and nor I need it also. (However, I took the cash deposited the same with Hall Bazaar branch and got their entry reversed). I cannot single out any staff member who was non- co-operative with me rather I was getting full respect as head of the family.

Parikh, though he was Assistant Manager, had limited banking knowledge but was very sincere and loyal.  His only weakness was that he used to leave the office for about half-an-hour in the after noon around 4 O’clock with-out telling. Once, I enquired about his absence. I was told by the staff that he used to go Stock Exchange almost daily at this time. When he returned I just asked him what was the trend in Stock Market he was little ashamed but from onward he used to tell me before going. Parikh was against CL Mehta  a clerk who had  a cervical  and used to wear neck collar while working in the branch  and Parikh used to complained against him telling the while driving scooter with his wife he did not use the collar but when he come to his seat in the branch he would put on the collar. As I knew when and where collar could be used by such patient I advised Parikh to discuss the case with his son Dr. Puesh who was orthopedic surgeon but he was not satisfied and was taking that I was just protecting him. Khaneja was very shrewd and had deceptive smile though he never did any wrong. Manak Lal Patel was more expert in talking than in the banking knowledge and he took me to his residence twice. He had incense stick business in the names of his sons. Ashok Chauhan was silent worker and had an urge to learn more. Naveen Bhai was sincere and hardworking in routine banking. Nahar and Iswhar Bhai had complete knowledge of their seats. Ishwar Bhai Patel was a little unpolished while taking with the staff and the customers. Vagela, the Daftri was having a small temple in the banking hall and used to pray before the start of banking hours to the duties. He was very hard working and his record keeping was perfect and it was he  helped to clear the rotten old record with the help of Bhavsar. Bhatia was Incharge of extension counter and was not interested much beyond his routine at  the extantion counter. He had one clerk cum Godown-keeper Bhavsar. The Branch had a Cash Van with Bansi as Driver. The cash van was seldom used for carrying the cash. It was more or less used for carrying the books of the Extension counter from the branch.

Praveen was a little self centered and rigid in his working and had affluent feelings.  He would never meet me for days.  Officially he was not required also. When ever I needed him I used to call him. I used to check the books of each department in the evening at random without the knowledge of the sectional in-charges. Once, I was checking the Progressive Book and found that it was not checked regularly (initialed) and I noted down the un-initialed pages. I called Parveen and advised him to complete the checking of the Progressive Book. He cleverly told me that he was checking the books regularly and I could check the books. I again told him that some times it could be slipped also but he did not agree and insisted that I may call the books. I called for the progressive book and showed him the pages which were not initialed (checked). He felt ashamed and said sorry. Once my son-in-law, Ravi’s eldest aunt (Mami) expired at Ahmedabad and I got the message and went for cremation borrowing car from Kankaria. After the cremation I felt that we were to serve them tea and Lunch to their family members.  As I was new to the place I phoned Parikh if he could send any of my colleagues who could help me in arranging the Lunch and tea at Mani Nagar where they were living.It was Praveen who offered Parikh to go Mani Nagar to help me. He not only arranged for the lunch from a local hotel and served it to them and later I found him that he himself was cleaning the utensils also. The man who was self centered and I had no social relations with him, helped me to such extend that my head was down under his obligations. I often expressed my gratitude during my stay there but every time he used to tell that it was his duty.

I had a limited social circle to secure new business in such a big city. My emphasis was on the good customer service and better house keeping which was already there to my satisfaction and there was no customer complaint during my period. Once, Chauhan brought one kiln financing case.  I enquired from Chauhan if he was well aware about the back ground and integrity of that person. When he assured me about his integrity I called the proposed borrower in my cabin and asked about the location of the proposed kiln, the distance from the main road, nature of the link passage, the type of the clay and means of transportation. The bricks capacity in the kiln in one round, the availability of the coal and many more details including from where he would get sand to mix with clay as the clay he told me was soft (Chikni Mitti). After getting all the details I Okay-ed the proposal.  After I Okay-ed the proposal, the proposed borrower asked me if I had any kiln. When I told him no, he told me  that ,the details which I had asked even the kiln owner never bothered to assess. It told him that that this was my first case of kiln financing.  I told him that it was my hobby to learn the intricacy of all the small scale industries even though I had not financed them. I advised the borrower that if  he was so impressed he should work honestly and keep the account regular as an honour to me. Ashok Chauhan also was much impressed the way I interview the borrower.When I was transferred Chauhan gifted me a valuable book ‘How to read handwriting’written by Barbara Hillwith his hand written inscription on the book ‘to whom, who knows how to read the people’ under his signatures dated 25.9.84

The main borrower account with us was Sayaji Mills. They were manufacturer of liquid Glucose from corn. There main plant was at Ahmedabad and they had a small plant in Kerala at village Chalakudi also which was manufacturing Glucose from a sort of sweet potato (Tapioca).  I visited their Ahmedabad unit three four times. It was Limited Company headed by Vipan Bhai. RT Doshi was the Secretary and Amrit Bhai Patel was the Chief Accountant. Amrit Bhai was the main link between the Bank and the Company. SK Uppal, the Regional Manager once asked me had any Manager of the branch ever visited the Kerala unit. I told him at least I had not visited but I would check up when it was visited last by any Manager.  There was nothing on record to show if any Manager had visited ever that unit. The old staff members told me that nobody had visited that unit to their knowledge. Uppal told me that I should visit the unit. I told Amrit Bhai Patel that I wanted to visit their Tapioca unit in  Kerala. He immediately arranged for my Air tickets and also accompanied me. From Ahmedabad we went Bombay and over night we stayed at their Rest House. Next morning we took a flight for Ernakulam and from Ernakulam we took Taxi to reach their unit at Chalakudi (Kerala). The Apollo Tyre unit was also a little ahead. They made arrangement for my stay at a Guest House in the groves. After taking some rest Patel and the GM of the unit brought me to Trichur . It must be more that two hours run but they did not disclose me that I was being taken for Dinner. When we reached at the hotel they put the menu before me for placing the orders I told them that day was my fast. It was Saturday and on Saturdays I used to observe fast in those days. They were very much disappointed. I took only lemon water. They too could not take much. They told me that had it been known to them they would not have taken such a long journey. I told them that probably it might have slipped from the mind of Patel as he had traveled the whole day with me and he knew I did not take any thing during the day despite his insistence.  We returned to the Guest House after traveling five six hours for nothing.                   

Next day they took me to the mill but it was Sunday the unit was not working. The stock was not much and I could smell that the unit was not working satisfactory. I felt the mill management had cleverly arranged for my visit for Sunday I did not want to waste one day more. After the visit to the Mill they took me to Guruayar a national fame temple of Lord Krishna. The entry in the temple was allowed with ‘Dhoti’ on the bare body. It was already dusk, oil light were being lighted on the temple with the help of long bamboo.  We had darshan of the deity wearing ‘dhoti’ on the bear body after bath. (Once, the President of India, Giani Zail Singh was to visit Guruayar but when he was told he would to enter the temple without turban and with bear body, he got his visit cancelled because it was against the Sikhs belief). Before returning Patel insisted that I should take some thing from this place as a token of memory but I was reluctant. Due to their persuasions I purchased a small coffee perforater  (brass pot) for which they did not allow me to pay. Late at night we returned to the guest house. Next morning we set out for Cochin via Kalady the birth place of Adi Guru Shankara Acharya. The village was completely inhabited by christen and at every crossing there was statue of Jesus. The Shankaracharya’s temple was giving a deserted look on the bank of one small river (Purna) at the end of the village. As we did not have ‘dhoti’ we could not enter the main temple to pay our obeisance. I was very sad to see how the Hindus are unconcerned about the place of the saint who once again revived Hinduism which was extinguishing with the spread of Budhism. He revived  Sanatan Dharma and established four ‘maths’ in the different corners of India to give them the message of unity and how Christianity had banished the Hindus from the holy town. By night we were at Bombay. Next day Patel took me to ‘chor’ bazaar and showed me, watches and cameras and  many other electronic goods there but I refused to buy any thing (for which he was to make payment) I told him that I had every thing which I needed and I did not buy any thing despite his constant persuasions. In the evening we returned Ahmedabad. I briefed the Regional Manager, Uppal about the position of the unit but did not give any adverse report in writing as stake in that unit was very small as compared to Ahmedabad which was a very good unit of the bank and this was main borrower account of our branch.

Singhvi, Assistant Manager was to retire when I was away to Chandigarh in connection with the marriage of my daughter Renu. He was not paid his retirement dues. As per bank rules the branch was to release his retirement benefit only after he had vacated the bank residence which he was entitle to keep for three months after his retirement. He needed the money to meet his monthly expenses. The branch refused to pay him after consulting the Regional Manager’s office. When I resumed my duties he met me. He was very much distressed  and told me that he had no  money to meet his regular needs. I asked if he was sure that he would vacate the bank residence before the permissible period.  I told him to give me a letter of request to place his retirement dues in Fixed Deposit account under bank lien and its monthly interest be credited to his saving fund account and also asked him to give an undertaking that in case he was unable to vacate the house before the due date the rent at the prevailing market rate might be debited to his account. Till such period, his deposit will remain under bank lien. On his letter of request I passed the orders, ‘Release his retirement dues and place them in Fixed Deposit account under bank lien and monthly rent be credited to his saving fund account. In case of default in vacating the bank premises his account be debited for the rent at the market rate and seek confirmation of our action from the Regional Manager’. When the letter reached Regional Office they reprimanded me for releasing the Bank dues to Singhvi as it was against the bank rules. I again wrote back stating: ‘The employee who had a regular source of income by way of his salary till yesterday and when his source of income is stopped abruptly after his retirement, how his family would survive without some regular source of income? I feel that our institution cannot be so cruel to its employees who had served the institution for such a long time, moreover when I had taken all the steps to safe guards the bank interest. I therefore request you to please take up the matter with the appropriate authorities to amend the rules’. I did not receive any further letter form the Regional Office on this score.

Vimal Chand Kankaria was having bill discounting business with us. His employee John used to visit the bank on behalf of the firm. When he came to know that I was living