Villagers in Jharkhand’s Hafua say he is a befitting example to contradict those who equate the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) with the terror group Islamic State and its leaders with terrorists.
His contributions towards the progress of the Muslim-dominated village and bringing its once crime-inclined youth into the mainstream dwarf those of several Muslim leaders, social workers and politicians. It is this selfless service over the past two decades that invariably makes the local youth respect him.
Meet Siddhi Nath Singh, RSS kshetriya sanchalak or the regional head for Bihar and Jharkhand and the chairperson of RSS’ social development wing, Rashtriya Seva Bharti. Singh, a resident of Jharkhand’s electricity hub Patratu in Ramgarh district, has been imparting free skill training and creating livelihoods for the youth of hundreds of villages across the country at his firm Kalpataru.
But what makes the engineer-turned-entrepreneur different from others is the devotion with which he remains involved in changing the lives of every youth in Hafua, with a population of approximately 1,000 people, around 70 km north of capital Ranchi.
Some two decades back, a mere mention of Hafua used to alert the police and intelligence agencies. Majority of those involved in bank robberies and snatching incidents in Ramgarh and Ranchi were traced to this village. Children did not go to school and elders never worked in the fields even though most of them had vast tracts of land in their names.
Men picked up fights with anyone over trifles and exerted their supremacy in the region.
It was during one of his sojourns to the village, while researching on storage of rain water, that 68-year-old Singh came across a few parents who were worried about the future of their teenage children.
“I met the youth and saw the spark in their eyes. They had everything barring education and proper guidance. I invited them to my engineering firm and trained them. Soon they were repairing heavy machines with ease,” Singh said while interacting with a fresh batch of boys from the village.
Over the last 15 years, Singh has provided skill training to no less than 150 Hafua men, who are now working across India and in the Gulf, earning handsome salaries. Their children now go to schools and the living standard of their families has also improved.
Afzal Ali, 38, trained as a welder with Singh’s firm and is now working with Adani Group in Gujarat earning a salary of Rs. 15,000 per month. Taslim Ansari, trained as a fitter, works with Hindalco in Renukoot.
Lauding them, Singh said, “Hafua boys are gifted. Give them a problem and they will solve it. I only routed their energy in the right direction.”
And in return they have nothing else, but, praise for Singh.
“Hafua residents do not have any criminal case for the last 10 years. We are now earning with dignity and living with pride,” said Zubair Ahmad, who has been working with the RSS leader’s firm for the last 12 years.
For Janisar Ansari, a class 10 student at Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Singh is like a god. “He is meeting all my expenses. I want to crack IIT and become the first engineer from my village,” he said.
Lal Mohammad Ansari, a landlord and whose five sons have been Singh’s students, said that he stands as an epitome of religious harmony at a time when some feel that the country has grown intolerant.