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A military tradition
About 35km from Rewari city in Haryana is a village that has sent hundreds of soldiers to battlefields since WW-I. In Kosli, which has fewer than 6,000 houses, three of every four households have at least one serving member in the armed forces. Rewari district itself has a strong martial tradition – it has 5,040 active members in the forces at present. But Kosli’s record is especially distinguished. It has produced every rank, from a sepoy to a major general. Over the years its heroes have been awarded one Mahavir Chakra, one Kirti Chakra, one Shaurya Chakra and one Military Cross (during British rule). Personnel from Kosli played a vital role in WW-I and have fought in all major wars since then. It even had representation in Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, and one of the INA soldiers, Mandal Singh, still lives in the village. Celebrating Gallantry Located about 35km from Rewari city, Kosli has a population of less than 14,000. The centre of life here is the ancient and famous village mutt (Hindu monastery). Every day, elderly men, most of whom have served in the military, get together at the mutt to talk about the exploits of the village’s many warriors. “Altogether 247 men from Kosli went to fight in the first World War, and six of them lost their lives,” said Sanjay Yadav, a resident. Others pointed out their names inscribed on a wall of the mutt. The conversation is not confined to the heroes of yesteryear as Kosli has six serving and three retired brigadier-rank officers, and around 30 colonels. Of the 104 commanding officers (COs) it has produced so far, over two dozen are still in the military. The village takes immense pride in having produced an officer of major general rank – Major General Yashwant Singh (retd) who now lives in Vadodara with his family. Join the Times Special Readers’ Club. Scan the QR code to (RETD)
Runs In The Family
Octogenarian Capt Mahender Singh (retd) is the patriarch of a military family. All four of his sons followed in his footsteps. While three of them have retired, the fourth is still serving the Indian Army. Kosli’s residents are passionate about military service, he said.
“My four sons preferred to join the military. Like them, many members of other families in the village are serving in the forces, giving their best to their motherland. ” The veteran soldier also said 75% of the families have at least one person serving in the armed forces.
Kosli’s orientation for military service is partly due to the early establishment of schools here. Yadav said the village got its first middle school in 1926 and a high school in 1928. “The children of the village started getting a good education and preferred to serve the country instead of looking for jobs with the British Indian government. Their good physique was another reason for joining the military before Independence. ”
Besides inscribing its martyrs’ names at the mutt, Kosli has built a war memorial where hundreds of names are etched on a white marble monument. Former PM Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundation of this memorial in 1984 when Kosli was part of Rohtak district. Now, the Rewari district administration maintains the war memorial and the village’s sainik rest house.
The villagers have also published a book on Kosli’s traditional links with the military and the glorious history of its soldiers.
Has the new Agnipath scheme dampened enthusiasm for military service? It does not seem so. “This is really a good step by the central government for the youth of the country. It will give them employment, and after their tenure they will get a good amount of money to settle their lives. It will also inculcate a sense of discipline, honesty and respect for the country through army training,” said Capt Mahender Singh.