Son of the Soil

General VK Singh’s grandfather fought in the WWI, his father retired as a Colonel in the Indian Army, his three uncles were in the services and so were four of his cousins. And, his village, Bapora, five km from Bhiwani town in Haryana, has about 500 faujis, some still serving and some retired. So, when Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Singh was named the Chief of Army Staff, he got his village of patriots the biggest honour it could ever have dreamt of. It was over four decades ago that Lt Gen Singh carried the family tradition forward when he was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1969. Villagers say his grandfather Mukhram Singh’s bravery is part of village folklore, inspiring his sons to join the Army.

The sense of pride is evident in every villager’s eyes here. “With this, all our wishes have come true. This family and the village deserved this,” says his cousin Captain (retd) Krishan Pal Singh. “I have served with him in the same regiment – 25 Rajput – and was also with him when he went to Sri Lanka with the IPKF. He has been fearless and brave when in the field,” he added.

Krishan Pal Singh says all his uncles, Colonel Jagat Singh, Lt Gen VK Singh’s father, and all his brothers — Risaldar Major Banoo Singh, Dafedar Ramkanwar Singh, Lieutenant Devi Singh, Capt Ranjeet Singh and Ramchander Singh — have served in the Army. Apart from Krishan Pal Singh, his other cousins — Subedar Major Dharam Singh, Naib Subedar Baljeet Singh and Hari Singh also joined the forces. The love for the Army got carried onto the fourth generation when Baljeet Singh’s son, Dhiren, joined the forces.

“The family now prefers Armymen when they look for grooms for their daughters,” says Krishan Pal Singh. No wonder, Lt Gen Singh’s elder son-in-law, Sangram Singh, is a lieutenant colonel, based in Delhi. His elder daughter Mrinalini Singh told TOI over phone from Delhi: “We are so proud of him. He deserves it. He has been a passionate soldier and preferred to be in the front. Me and my sister missed him during our childhood.” His elder daughter says the passion to fight for his country was in him since he was a kid, as he first expressed it in a poem he wrote as a standard 9 student of Birla School in Pilani. “My father is humble and modest. He said it’s a tribute to the entire infantry, when he got the news,” she said.

“He has never forgotten his roots and visits Bapora often,” says his brother Santosh Singh, who stays in the ancestral home here. “Walk round the village and you will find an ex-serviceman or one serving now in almost every household. We have made a big contribution to the Indian Army. Some have reached high ranks, like Prithi Singh, who had become the Air Marshal of the Western Command and some have been Brigadiers,” says Googan Singh, an ex-serviceman and a resident of Bapora.

Via Times of India