That was 1984. Though, I belonged to the 1981 batch of IPS, my foundation training at the LBS, IAS Academy of Mussourie was deferred because the routine police verification was delayed for no fault of mine. Mussourie is a beautiful place and it was really exciting to meet and interact with the people selected for various services there. The foundation training was of about three months and a village visit was part of the curriculum. Our group of about 8 to 10 persons was to go to Bija, a village near Gaya in Bihar. We reached Gaya from Mussourie in a luxury bus. We all were talking loudly during the journey and though each of our conversation started in English, soon it invariably lapsed into Hindi.
At Gaya, we were nicely treated by the SDM, a junior, smart IAS officer and his beautiful wife. Next day, we moved to Bija in a government jeep. We were put up in some, not-so-good, premises owned by the Forest Department. First day at Bija was okay. However by the turn of night, we all were fed up with the village life. Though a cook was fixed up, he did not turn up. His assistant turned up in the evening, but he could not cook. At night, we a suffered from heavy onslaught of mosquitoes. In the morning, our faces had red scars of mosquito bites and our eyes were burning. Our moods were not steady and there was no enough water for baths too. Anyway, it was a lousy morning.
However, when we were ready for the day, to our great and pleasant surprise, there was a jeep for us. Munna Lal, a smart chap of around thirty looking like Dev Anand of Guide fame was there in charge of it. He met us informing in local Hindi that he had been sent by the authorities. He let us knew that his ambition in life was to become an IAS officer but circumstances and destiny bogged him down, so he took great pleasure in serving IAS, IPS, etc. officers. He was to take us around to show the village life and some other places. We all were excited and soon dumped ourselves in the vehicle. Our luggage was left behind. We were slightly worried about its safety, but Munna Lal told us that there was no reason to worry. “Bihar might have a bad impression, but villages are safe. This place had been Lord Buddha’s, so nothing to worry.” We were convinced and left the place just like that.
When we had gone about half a kilometer in the deep rural area, we found an ailing lady at the road side. She was young and beautiful but she was crying. Munna Lal stopped the jeep, got down and asked her, “What’s the matter?”
We followed him.
She had terrible pain, she told. She was alone and there was nobody to look after her, she informed us wailing. Her face was veiled all the time. But her voice was clear. Her 90% breasts were visible as the top button of her blouse was missing. Because of the pain, she made up and down movements of her legs too, and in the process her petticoat was getting displaced at times making a considerable portion of her legs above the knees visible. We were pale with the suffering of poor rural Indian folks.
“Let’s take her to the Primary Health Centre. It’s not very far from here.” He sought our consent with a grim face. “Aap sab IAS log, please garib aurat ke liye…..”
As we were overwhelmed with the idea of helping a poor rural lady in saving her life, we all agreed readily. “All of you please be here except one.” Munna Lal almost ordered us. “The lady has to be laid down on the seat”.
We dropped out except one Mr. Singh selected by Munna Lal. Before we can make any sense, the jeep was gone! In it were Munna Lal, Mr. Singh and the wailing lady.
“I’ll just return. Please don’t go away.” He had told us before leaving.
We collected in the shade of a tree talking about the miserable plight of poor rural Indians. We waited and waited but Munna Lal and his jeep did not return. Hungry and thirsty, we wandered around few kilometers and returned to our camp in the late afternoon. We met Mr. Singh there.
“What happened to the lady?” We asked in one voice.
“I don’t know. I was dropped after about half a kilometer of journey.” Singh’s face was miserable
“The Doctor might return this way. The road was bifurcating there. If we miss the Doctor, this poor lady would loose her life. Munna Lal had told me.”
“That was all fake. I returned here just before two minutes”.
Certain things dawned on us . We went inside the camp. Our luggage were gone! We could see fresh imprints of jeep tyres on the soil around. We all became angry initially but then as we settled, realities sunk in us.
The case was reported to the SHO of the area in the nearby town. He treated us nicely, even gifted each of us a pair of simple cloths too. But he never registered an FIR, convincing us all by saying, “That will reflect badly of the Administration and the Government.”
The old memories of Munnabhai IAS and Ms. Circuit revived painfully within me each time when I saw Munnabhai MBBS and Munnabhai Lage Raho, recently.