When the talk is of India and Pakistan, the discussion inevitably involves the heroics of Indian soldiers during the four wars that India has fought with Pakistan. Every war has given India new heroes, new role models and new paragons of sacrifice and patriotism. This is the story of another such hero with the only difference being that the hero in this case isn’t a soldier, but a civilian.
This is the tale of an ordinary Indian, Ranchodbhai Rabari, who acted in an extraordinary manner to ‘guide’ the Indian Army in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. It is most likely that almost no one has heard of this man, yet his contribution remains immensely vital to the success of the Indian Army in the two wars.
In the 1965 war, Pakistani soldiers had captured Vidyakot post in Kutch. In the battle for this post, 100 Indian soldiers had attained martyrdom. This made it absolutely imperative for another detachment of Indian soldiers to reach Charkot within the next three days to prevent further movement of Pakistani troops into Indian territory. This was when Ranchodbhai came into the act. He knew the territory like the back of his hand and he acted as a guide to the Indian soldiers and helped them reach in time. This was not it. He even gathered the accurate location of 1,200 Pakistani soldiers and without being caught by them relayed the information to Indian soldiers. The Indian troops then attacked the Pakistanis and defeated them.
He contributed to the success of the Indian Army even in the 1971 war. He moved toward the Pakistani border riding a camel and brought back vital information of hideouts of Pakistani troops. Based on his information did the Indian Army march ahead. When ammunition fell scarce, he even did the job of getting the troops much-needed ammunition.
For his valiant service to the nation, he was given many awards. Many army posts are named after martyred soldiers and various gods, but Ranchodbhai is the only civilian after whom a post is named. He is truly an unsung hero of the 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan.