A film of Ajay Devgan is coming, which is named- ‘Bhuj – the pride of India’ in which Sanjay Dutt is playing a character, Ranchoddas Rabari of ‘Pagi’. Few people know about them.
The old Rabari in the photo was actually the eldest prince of an army. 2008 Field Marshal Manek Shaw was admitted to Wellington Hospital, Tamil Nadu. In severe illness and a semi-conscious state, he used to take one name – ‘Pagi-Pagi’, the doctors asked one day, “Sir, who is this Paagi?”
Sam sahib himself briefed-
India had won the 1971 war; General Manekshaw was in Dhaka. I ordered them to call Pagi, and I will have dinner with her today. The helicopter was dispatched. While boarding the aircraft, a bag of pygmy remained at the bottom, which was lowered back to the helicopter to pick up.
The officers were stunned when they opened the bag before placing it in the helicopter as per the rules. Because it contained two rotis, onions and a dish of gram flour (gathiya). Sam sahib ate one roti in dinner and the other page.
A border post of ‘Suigaon’ International Border Area of North Gujarat was named Ranchoddas Post. This happened for the first time when an army post was installed in the name of an ordinary person and his statue.
The meaning of Pagi is ‘guide’, that is, the person who shows the way in the desert. General Sam Manik Shaw used to call ‘Ranchoddas Rabari’ by this name.
Ranchoddas was a resident of Pethapur Gathda village in Banaskantha district of Gujarat bordering Pakistan. They used to do cow rearing work. At the age of 58, his life changed when Banaskantha Superintendent of Police Vanraj Singh Jhala hired him as a police guide.
He had such a talent that just by looking at the footprints of the camel, he could tell how many people were riding on it. By looking at human footprints, they used to guess from weight to age. How long ago the mark is and how far it would have gone, all accurate estimation as if a computer were doing calculations.
At the beginning of the 1965 war, the Pakistani Army captured Vidkot on the Kutch border in Gujarat, India. About 100 Indian soldiers were killed in this encounter, and a contingent of 10 thousand soldiers of the Indian Army was required to reach Charkot in three days.
Then the need arose, for the first time Ranchoddas Pagi. Thanks to his grip on the desert roads, he had made the Army reach its destination 12 hours ahead of schedule. He was chosen by Sam Sahib himself to guide the Army, and a particular post was created in the Army – ‘Pagi’. That is the knowledge of the feet or feet.
The location and approximate number of 1200 Pakistani soldiers hiding on the Indian border were revealed to the Indian Army only after knowing their footprints. That was enough for the Indian Army to win that front.
Along with guiding the Army in the 1971 war, transporting ammunition to the front was also part of Pagi’s job. Pagi was instrumental in the victory of the Indian tricolour that was hoisted over the city of Palinagar in Pakistan. Sam Saab himself gave a cash prize of ₹ 300 out of his pocket.
Pagi also received three honours for his contribution in the war of 65 and 71 – Sangram Medal, Police Medal and Samar Seva Medal.
Sam Manik Shaw died on June 27, 2008, and Pagi also took ‘voluntary retirement’ from the military in 2009. At that time, the age of Pagi was 108 years. Yes, you read that right..’Voluntary retirement at the age of 108, and Pagi died in 2013 at the age of 112.