For generations, people living in Saidpur village, 145 kms from Delhi, have been serving the nation. Around 3,500 retired soldiers live here, while 1,500 soldiers from this village are currently serving in the Indian armed forces
Arvind Shukla/ Divendra Singh
“This is a village of martyrs. There’s something in our soil that makes it unique. Every home in this village has someone who is serving the nation,” said Dheeraj Sirohi, headman, of Saidpur village in Uttar Pradesh.
He proudly added: “Around 3,500 retired soldiers live here, while 1,500 soldiers from our village are currently serving in the Indian defence forces – the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Many are serving in various paramilitary forces. One of the daughters living in our village is a pilot. Our village has also given a Major General to the country. Major General Shyoraj Singh Ahlawat also hails from this village.”
Saidpur is a nondescript village, situated around 145 km from our national capital Delhi. There a reason why it has earned a moniker – the village of soldiers. For generations, people living in these villages have served the nation. Some from the older generation served during the First World War in 1914, while there were many who fought the Kargil war.
Entire population of 20,000 in this village are directly or indirectly associated with the three wings of defence forces — Army, Air Force and Navy. Many have joined the police force and other paramilitary forces.
Many from this village were martyred during wars, but it didn’t deter them from producing new heroes. After Pulwama tragedy, many retired jawans from this village donated their entire pension to the Prime Minister National Relief Fund.
“After the Pulwama tragedy, many retired soldiers in our village donated their entire pension in PM Nation relief funds. They also left a message note saying they are willing to donate more if the country needs to buy weapons to retaliate against Pakistan,” added Dheeraj.
Many homes in this village have painted their walls with tri-colour. There are two Shaheed Stambh in this village. One of them displays list of all martyrs while the other, which is the sculpture of Martyr Nayab Surendra Singh Ahlavat, is located next to the Intercollege. It also serves as a meeting spot for elderly and youngsters of the village.
During the Independence of Bangladesh, Devindar Singh Sirohi joined the Mukti Bahini (the Bangladesh forces) on behalf of Indian Navy, where he played a key role in the Independence of Bangladesh. Sirohis were eight brothers, amongst whom five served the nation. He said, “I was in Navy. My other four brothers were in Indian Army. My father and grandparents were in the defence forces. Now, my kids are also serving the nation. Patriotism flows in our people’s vein.”
Devindar’s eyes gleamed as soon as the Gaon Connection reporter talked about the Indian Army and its war heroes. He talked about various incidents when Indian Navy combat Pakistan forces in 1971, how they destroyed harbour of Karachi.
Devindar agitated as soon as we talked about Pakistan. “Whenever Pakistan forces or some terrorists attack us, we get very angry. We feel like picking up arms and rushing towards the border. If the Indian Army or the government permits us, we are ready to fight for our country. For us, nothing is above our nation’s pride.”
Not only youngsters living in this village, but even the primary school children dream about serving the nation. 75% of kids in schools wants to pursue their career in Indian Defense Forces. Niti Sharma, a class 6 student, has already started preparing to enlist herself in the defence forces. She said, “My father, grandparents are in the army, while two of my uncles are in the police force. Even I want to serve the nation.”
There’s a playground near the village’s Intercollege, where many kids and youngsters exercise all day. When Gaon Connection reporter talked to Monu, 18, he said, “It is my dream to wear the uniform. I will serve the nation till my last breath. I will enlist myself in the Indian Defense forces as long as my age in the certificate permits. I hope I will be selected in the next two years.”
Former teacher of Secondary School in Saidpur, Robin Sirohi, explains the reason why so many kids dream about pursuing their careers in the defence forces, he said, “The kids want to follow their parent’s footsteps. Someone’s father, uncle and grandparents are currently serving the nation. There are a few families in our village, where entire families are serving the nation. Kids get motivated when they see their father and brothers in uniforms. Nowadays, our village daughters have came forward and are joining the defence forces.”
Women at homes play a significant role in preparing their kids for defence forces. They stay at home and look after livestock, agriculture and their kids. Kamlesh Sirohi told Gaon Connection that her father and brother-in-law were serving the nation while her sons are preparing themselves for joining the forces. She said, “We look after their diet. We let them eat a lot of milk and curd. It is an honour for us that our kids will be useful to our country.” Lot of people from our village have martyred. We feel bad. But it doesn’t affect our enthusiasm. Our kids prepare themselves for it and we mothers help them fostering this path.”