The approach to Palra is sure to tell you about what the village is best known for — its famous martyrs and armed forces heritage, with memorials lining the road. The most famous is Honourary Captain Umrao Singh, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest British honour for valour. Palra’s men have followed in Singh’s footsteps.
One such family is that of Nayak Subedar Brahmanand, 57, who retired from the Army Ordinance Corps. His sons Hawaldar Surendar Singh, Hawaldar Surat Singh and Honourary Nayab SubedarJaswant Singh have carried on the tradition of service. Brahmanand is especially proud of his grandson, Captain Sandeep Kumar, who is serving in the 9th Rajputana Rifles.
He’s less happy about the way the army has been portrayed by the media recently. “It’s you media people who create these problems for the sake of sensationalism. We in the army do not need the permission of any civilians. These kind of reports speak of the ignorance of the media. Hum fauji logon ko apna kaam achhi tarah pataa hai, tumhe hi apna kaam nahin aata. (We army people know our job, it’s the media who doesn’t.)”
He’s speaking about the way the January 16-17 troop movements were given the colour of a coup by some sections of the media, which also resulted in Defence Minister AK Antony cutting short an official visit and return to take stock of the situation.
“We don’t pay very much attention to what you people say, either,” Brahmanand says chastisingly.