Meet Ranchhod Pagi, The Unsung Hero For Whom Indian Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw Created Special Post
India and Pakistan have rarely been on good terms as the latter has always played an important in promoting anti-India activities. While the majority of the Indian governments have tried solve the issues with Pakistan by conducting talks, the results have been quite disappointing as Pakistan has always betrayed and inflicted war on India despite the fact that it has always tasted defeat in all the four wars (1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999) that it has fought against India.
The Indian defense forces deserves all the praise and the respect for the courage and bravery that they have shown in these wars and undoubtedly, we will never be able to repay the debt of those Indian soldiers who martyred their lives in order to safeguard their motherland. However, there are some unsung heroes as well who helped the Indian army in these wars and made it possible for them to overpower the enemy.
Today we will let you know about one such unsung hero who played an important role in the India-Pakistan war of 1965 and 1971 and helped Indian defense forces in getting a upper hand over the enemy.
We are talking about Ranchordas Rabari aka Pagi (person with the knowledge of feet) who is also known as Ranchhod Pagi, he was born in 1901 in a small village Pathapur Gathras in Banaskantha district, Gujarat. He belonged from a family of Rabaris which is a tribe known for herding sheep, goat and cattle and used to live in Limbala village which was close to the Pakistani border.
Ranchordas was appointed as a guide at the age of 58 yrs by Vanraj Singh Jhala, the Superintendent of Police, Banaskantha because of his exceptional knowledge of the area and the skills with the help of which he could easily tell how many men were sitting on the camel by seeing the footprints of the camel on the desert and he was also able to tell the weight, height and even the gender of the person by seeing his footprints and was also able to tell how old are the footprints and how much distance a person could have covered after that.
Later on, he was also appointed as a scout in the Indian Army as a special post, Pagi was created for him by the Sam Manekshaw, the first Field Marshal of India and played important role in 1965 and 1971 wars.
In 1965, before the war started Pakistanis made incursions on the border areas at the Rann of Kutch and also captured the Vidyakot border post in which around 100 Indian soldiers got martyred. An army contingent of 10,000 Indian soldiers had to reach Chharkot in 3 days and this was the first time when Ranchordas Pagi helped the Indian army by guiding them in the difficult routes and made them reach 12 hrs early before the scheduled time. Because of his exceptional knowledge of the area and after studying the footprints of the Pakistani soldiers, Pagi also found out the hideouts of the 1200 Pakistani soldiers who were hiding in the jungles in the dark which helped Indian army a lot in capturing back the area.
In the 1971 war, Pagi was also of great help in transporting ammunition and he also played important role in the victory of Palinagar. Sam Manekshaw, who was the Chief of the Army Staff during the 1971 war gave a reward of Rs.300 to Ranchordas Pagi from his own pocket and Pagi has also been awarded with Sangram Medal, Police Medal and Samar Seva Medal for his service to the country. One of the Banaskantha outposts was also named after Pagi by the Indian Border Security Force in order to honour him and a statue of him is also installed at the border post.
It is being said that after the 1971 victory, Sam Manekshaw who went on to become the first Field Marshal of the country invited Ranchordas Pagi for lunch and sent a helicopter for him. Pagi went with a bag in which he had two rotis and onion and while he had one roti, Sam Manekshaw ate the other one.
The importance of Ranchordas Pagi could be understood by the fact that in 2008 when Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was ill and admitted in Military hospital, Wellington, he used to take Pagi’s name in sub conscious state. When the doctor asked him about Pagi, Sam Maneksaw told him the whole story.
On 27 June 2008, at the age of 94 yrs, Sam Manekshaw took his last breath and next year, in 2009 Pagi took voluntary retirement. The unsung hero, Ranchordas Pagi who should be a part of our history books breathed his last in the year 2013 when he was 112 years old.
Recently, a movie, Bhuj: The Pride of India which is based on the Indo-Pakistan 1971 war got released and it starred some big names of the industry such as Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, etc. In this movie, Sanjay Dutt has played the character of Ranchhod Pagi.
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