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Gahmar – Home of soldiers stays away from Agnipath fire

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Gahmar (Uttar Pradesh), June 19 (Ajit Weekly News) There is a sense of unease and disquiet but no protests.

Gahmar, known for sending a large number of youths to the armed forces, has distanced itself from the ‘Agnipath’ protests though questions seem to be hurling through every mind and heart here.

Gahmar in Ghazipur district is home for 4,500 families who share a 12 square kms area. The village, on the border of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states, prides itself as the “home of the soldiers”.

Almost every home in the country’s largest village has a member who has either served or is presently serving in the armed forces.

About 90 km drive from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, the village has a population of over one lakh.

“We all have a military connect. In several families there are more than one member in the armed forces. Several generations of families have been serving the nation and we are proud of it,” says Rameshwar Thakur, a retired subedar whose son and nephew are serving in the army.

Mornings in Gahmar are different from other villages in the region.

Young boys – from 12 years to 20 years-get up before the break of dawn and can be seen running at the 400-meter track alongside the river Ganga. This is followed by rigorous physical training with old-style free weights, pull-up bars, dip bars and benches.

The routine is repeated at dusk and ask any boy in the village about his ambition and the answer is, “Army aur kahan?”

The village has a largely Thakur population and they all take pride in their connect with the armed forces.

All houses in the village are well constructed and fitted with basic amenities.

“Since the men are in the army, the household are mostly looked after by women. The men send the money and we get the houses built or repaired. We also take care of the children’s education. In this village, women are mainly at the helm of affairs – whether it is household issues or village issues,” says Malti Singh, whose husband and two sons are serving in the army and she lives here with her two daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Gahmar, interestingly, is untouched by the flames of ‘Agnipath’ – the new short service scheme for armed forces.

Malti Singh explains, “Yes, the new service is not what we would have wanted, but for us, there is no other career option. Now even our daughters want to join armed forces. We have told our children to focus on training and not get carried away with what is happening all around. I hope that the government will do the needful on the issue.”

Rohit Tiwari, a young army aspirant, say that he and his friends have kept away from anti-Agnipath agitations because he does not wish to spoil his chances.

“If a case is registered against me during protest, it will jeopardise my chances of getting into the army and that is something I cannot even dream of,” he explains.

However, he hopes that the government will extend the tenure of service to ten years and include pension as a benefit.

Locals claim that over 5,000 men from Gahmar are currently serving in the military and paramilitary forces. The village also has an equal number of retired soldiers.

–Ajit Weekly News

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