| The house of Lieutenant-General SK Singh at Kartha village in Bhojpur district. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary |
Kartha, a sleepy village on the Bhojpur-Rohtas border of central Bihar, is abuzz with activities to welcome home its mitti ka lal (son of the soil) and vice-chief of the army staff Lieutenant-General S.K. Singh on September 15.
The home to the second senior-most officer of the Indian Army, Kartha has, over the years, sent over 350 youths to the Indian Army and earned the sobriquet of the “village of soldiers”.
Almost every 15th youth in the village is serving the army, either as soldiers or as high profile officers. Among them is Lieutenant-General Singh, a recipient of medals like the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal.
Situated under Tarari police station and around 120km southwest of Patna, Kartha has a mixed population. The Rajputs and the Koeris dominate the demography.
This is Lieutenant-General Singh’s maiden visit to the village after he took over as the new vice-chief, heralding a generational change in the top brass of the army last year. He is the first officer in the amy commissioned after India’s 1971 war with Pakistan to rise to the coveted post.
In view of his scheduled visit, army officers have been visiting the village regularly for the past couple of days. According to the itinerary, Lieutenant-General Singh will visit Raj Rajeshwai High School, Suryapura, where he had studied up to Class VI. (Those days, the school used to impart education up to Class VI only).
“Lieutenant-General Singh will be felicitated by the employees of the school and people’s representatives. He had studied in the school up to class VI when his uncle, Kedarnath Roy, was serving as teacher. It is a matter of pride for the school, which had produced a senior army officer,” Raj Rajeshwai High School headmaster Raj Narayan Singh said.
The vice-chief of the army staff would meet his classmates, the teachers who had taught him in childhood and also the present students of the school. He would also participate in an NCC camp organised on the campus of the institute. The headmaster said a band of army officers, led by Major-General Rajpal Singh, visited the school on Saturday to take stock of the preparations for Lieutenant-General Singh visit,” he added.
Lieutenant-General Singh’s uncle Roy said Shri Krishna (SK) was a brilliant student since his school days. “My elder brother (S.K. Singh’s father) late Mathura Singh was a farmer. His son started living with me at the tender age of five,” 95-year-old Roy told The Telegraph.
The retired teacher added: “Singh, born in 1954, was enrolled to the Army School, Dehradun, in 1965. He had topped in the entrance examination. He was the lone student from Bihar selected in the admission test. After competing in the National Defence Academy in 1970, he underwent two-years training in Pune and was commissioned as the Second Lieutenant in 1972.”
Lieutenant-General Singh’s younger brother, Satish Kumar, is at present posted as Lieutenant in the army in Benaras, Uttar Pradesh. His two sons — Manish (30) and Manoj (25) — were selected in the NDA examinations, but they later decided to pursue career in engineering and are now settled in Singapore.