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Posted at: Apr 21, 2016, 1:08 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2016, 1:08 AM (IST)

Fair celebrating Gabbar Singh Negi’s bravery starts

Relatives allege govt not doing enough in Victoria Cross winner’s memory
Fair celebrating Gabbar Singh Negi’s bravery starts
Jawans of the Garhwal Rifles regimental centre pay floral tributes to Gabbar Singh Negi on the first day of the annual fair celebrating his valour at Chamba in Tehri Garhwal on Wednesday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Mussoorie, April 20

The three-day annual fair held in the memory of World War I hero and Victoria Cross awardee Gabbar Singh Negi began on his birth anniversary at Chamba town in Tehri Garhwal district today.

Led by Subedar Major Gopal Singh Bisht, 25 jawans from the Garhwal Rifles regimental centre laid a floral wreath at Negi’s memorial amid patriotic tunes played by the Army band.

People from his native village, Manjood, reached the Shaheed Sthal at Chamba amid the beating of traditional drums around noon and paid homage to the rifleman, who was martyred during World War I while fighting for the British. Nagar panchayat president Vikram Panwar, ex-servicemen union’s president Inder Singh Negi and Mahavir Negi, grandson of martyr Kamal Singh Negi, also remembered the martyr on the occasion.

However, the villagers were irked at the fact that no Army Officer bothered to pay homage to the martyr on the occasion, turning the whole event into a mere formality.

Kamal Singh Negi, grandson of Gabbar Singh Negi, said it was sad that no official was present during the inaugural day of the fair.

He said earlier officers used to pay homage during the festival and youths from the region used to be recruited in the Army as mark of respect but the practice had been stopped completely. A museum in honour of the martyr, proposed at Manjood village, had not taken shape despite announcement by successive chief ministers, including Major Gen (retd) BC Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Harish Rawat.

Kamal Singh demanded that Governor KK Paul direct officials to begin the work of the museum at Manjood village.

Gabbar Singh Negi was a rifleman in the 2/39th Garhwal Rifles, Indian Army, during World War I. He was awarded the highest bravery award, the Victoria Cross, on March 10, 1915, at Neuve Chapelle, France.

The plaque at the memorial, constructed in his honour in 1971, describes the valour of the rifleman during the war. It states “during an attack on the German Position, Rifleman Gabbar Singh Negi was one of a bayonet party with bombs who entered their main trench and was the first man to go round each traverse, driving back the enemy until they were eventually forced to surrender. He was killed during this engagement.”

In 1971, the Garhwal Regiment adopted the fair to give it a much-needed boost. A memorial was constructed attracting villagers from far and near to pay their homage to the brave soldier during the annual fair. However, presently the fair has turned into an event to have jalebis and nothing more than that, said an elderly resident from Manjood village.

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