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Thursday, August 28, 2014
A soldier from every home is tradition here
A crow perched atop the high flag mast scans a sleepy kutcha stretch while a cement statute of a turquoise uniformed-sepoy sporting a twirled moustache stands upright, the right hand raised in a salute. Hidden in a corner is a plaque with names of persons who perished in the two World Wars.
The sleepy village of P. Thippanapalli, nestled away from the yawning highways, is some 20 km from Krishnagiri. The village, with 345 households, has over 400 men in the armed forces while over 160 persons draw ex-servicemen’s pensions.
Even today lanky young boys in the village want to continue in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers in what has become an unwritten tradition spanning over a century since World War I. According to P. Chinappan, district president of the ex-servicemen welfare association, poverty and lack of education drove the villagers to take up jobs in the army during the world wars. Later, army jobs became a lucrative proposition for them as it ensured job security.
The village had one of its own get martyred only once; in 2008, when Govindasamy, deployed in Afghanistan, was killed in a suicide-bomb attack. “Whoever went away always returned. Perhaps, that may also be the reason why we do not fear sending our men,” says 35-year-old Anuradha, whose husband returned to Sikkim last weekend.
“My father and uncle were in the Army, and now my husband is posted in Sikkim,” says 34-year-old Saradha while Kannamma, 45, whose husband has been in the Army for over 25 years, says: “We are used to this. It is a pride for our village, and for the country.”
The memorial at P. Thippanapalli village. Photo: N. Bashkaran