They came from all over the State with dreams of joining the Army to defend the country, but many found out how it is to live on the footpath.

The response to the Army Recruitment Rally being conducted here from June 15 has been overwhelming. Obviously the organisers were not fully prepared for the response.

Barricades were arranged to ensure the candidates submitted their certificates in an orderly manner, but the process took longer than expected forcing the candidates who came from as far as Srikakulam to stay overnight.

With the authorities making no arrangements for the stay, the youngsters found themselves sleeping on the footpaths of the roads around the Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium. The wide footpath in front of the Traffic Police Complex adjoining the Police Parade grounds opposite the stadium was the most popular place for the youngsters to sleep.

Physical test

“I have never slept on the footpath in my life. It is going to be very difficult with all the mosquitoes. I have to do running and face the physical test tomorrow,” said an anxious youngster from East Godavari district.

District Youth Welfare Officer V. Subba Rao said over 2,600 candidates applied on June 15, and 4,325 applied on June 16, the number increased to 5,925 on June 17 and it further increased to 6,364 on June 18.

MLC and former Minister Paladugu Venkata Rao said it caused him great pain to see the youngsters wanting to join the Army sleeping on the footpaths. “First day I saw it I thought it was a one day affair, but then I kept seeing youngsters every day. This is the failure of the district administration. It reflects poorly on the city of Vijayawada and Krishna district. As a leader of Krishna district it reflects poorly on me,” Mr Venkata Rao said.

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