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From nine states and four Union Territories, thousands of aspirants have come to participate in two-day territorial Army recruitment drive, which is conducted by the 101 Infantry Battalion Territorial Army Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) and camped at the Pune’s roadside. Applying for 96 posts, most of the applicants belong to poor families, overcoming the chilling winters, hunger, and thirst while sitting for the long line of more than 12 hours so that they can run in the physical test.
Meanwhile, there are no facilities available for the aspirants so nearby or local gurudwaras turned up to help with basic needs like food and clothing to the people who are waiting to turn their future bright for the country.
“We are arranging food for more than 5,000 people. We are also distributing T-shirts, blankets, diaries, pens among these candidates. Our langars from the community are doing their best in supporting these aspirants in every way possible,” said Raj Singh, member of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in the Cantonment area.
One of the aspirants, Ali Shaikh, 20-years-old hailing from Tuljapur in Osmanabad district was grateful to the Sikh community as they come out for help. He said, “Yesterday, we were not aware of the langar. But when today someone informed us about it, we have come here. We had to spend a lot of money on traveling and on food yesterday. But this langar is a blessing for us all.”
Another one, 23-years old, Santosh Pawar from Yavatmal, attempting for the fifth time, said, “It is understandable that the Army is not obligated to provide services to the aspirants. But whatever helps the gurdwaras are doing, by providing food and clothing, is very important and crucial for us all.”
Talking about the condition of aspirants and lack of support, Singh said, “Most of these aspirants come from poor families. They do not have much money in their pockets, no blankets or proper clothes for winters. We are doing our best by providing them with food and clothes, but it is not enough. We have so many prominent and rich trusts and organizations. We could all come together and provide these kids with all basic facilities.”
The number of aspirants is going to increase and it would be difficult for them to help all the candidates so other NGOs and communities came up for help. For instance, the Isha Foundation distributed 4,000 water bottles said, Singh. “The ISKCON food relief foundation organized food stalls for the aspirants. But more needs to be done. We are appealing to people and several organizations to contribute in whichever way they can,” said Singh.