D. P. K. Pillay
DPK Pillay in his moment of truth
12 August 1967 |
|Unit||Brigade of the Guards|
Lieutenant Colonel DPK Pillay, Shaurya Chakra, born 12 August 1967 is an alumnus of Bangalore Military School. He graduated from the National Defence Academy and was commissioned as an officer in the Brigade of the Guards of Indian Army. He was near fatally wounded in counter insurgency operations in Manipur in India's North East. He shot into prominence recently when he undertook the journey back to the village where he was wounded in the firefight  and subsequently for delivering development and humanitarian activities to the village in the remote district of Tamenglong.
Divakaran Padma Kumar Pillay is the son of Major and Mrs AVD Pillay and had his early schooling in Bangalore Military School. He went on to join the 72 course of National Defence Academy in 1984 before joining Indian Army's elite regiment- the 4th Battalion Brigade of the Guards, in 1988. He saw active service in the Indian states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir before moving to 8 Guards deployed in India's North East where he was involved in an encounter in which he nearly lost his life with multiple gunshots directed on his chest and arm and a grenade blast that exploded on his right foot and blew up a portion of the leg.
Thereafter, DPK Pillay was primed to serve in his Alma Mater— Bangalore Military School, after he was decorated with Shaurya Chakra— India's highest peacetime gallantry award series. The then Chief of Army Staff, later Member of Parliament who presided over the School Golden Jubilee celebrations, Gen Shankar Roy Choudhary, handpicked him to serve in Bangalore Military School for motivation of the young cadets to join the Indian Armed Forces. With this, Pillay earned the singular distinction of being the only Georgian to serve as the Administrative Officer (AO) at the prestigious institute. The school under his leadership went on to achieve exemplary results in all fields ranging from academics to sports to other extra-curricular activities. Later he was invited to join the Ministry of Defence (India) as an anti insurgency specialist.
Col. Pillay has graduated from National Defence Academy with a Bachelors degree in Arts and has Masters degree from Sikkim Manipal University. He is pursuing a PhD in Human Security and its relevance in India from Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Contributions to Reconciliation in Insurgency
In a fateful patrol he led, he was tasked to protect a few tribal villages during a highly charged ethnic cleansing phase of disturbance in Manipur's Tamenglong district. He managed to track down the insurgents hiding in Tamenglong and successfully ambushed the insurgents in Longdi pabram village. NSCN insurgents are great fighters and are well trained and disciplined. To outwit a Naga insurgent is by itself a significant feat. However after the surrender of the militants, DPK Pillay, who was near fatally wounded realised that there were two young children who were injured in the cross fire. When the helicopter arrived to evacuate him, he refused to be moved and insisted that the young children be taken to safety first.
This noble act of the soldier won over not only the villagers but also the insurgents in the area. Though the officer was presumed to have died in the encounter by the villagers, a patrol team sent to the village in March 2010 connected the villagers to the officer who was immediately invited and felicitated in a major way by the village. The soldier's humanitarian service has also earned him a moniker of Pillay Pamei among the local population. "Pamei" is a surname and clan of the influential Zeliangrong community residing in the village. DPK Pillay has thereafter returned several times to the village and has organised several activities for development of the region— earning him the sobriquet of "Hero of Manipur" and "Savior of Longdi pabram".
When asked why he chose his course of action over his own evacuation as he himself was dying, he says— "First thing that came to my mind as a trained soldier was the safety of the children and all others. I was trained to sacrifice my own life and comfort for my people and my country who always come first. I always knew I was not amongst enemies but my own brothers and sisters. I could not choose the suffering and sorrow of the people I was sent to protect to that of mine. I could not allow the children to suffer. I had two options– one was to perpetuate the violence and the other to end it with me and say that all that is evil ends with me. I have always been inspired by Mahatama Gandhi who said— “Be the change you want to see in the world". I am glad I chose the latter— the harder right instead of the easier wrong!
Pillay's philosophy of countering insurgency is simple— "Peace is not just an absence of violence but a consistent delivery of opportunities to survive and to improve and develop not just as an individual, but also as a community and a region. Despite the lack of glamour, peace is a better choice— the right choice. We must choose peace over violence."
Honors and Awards
Col. Pillay was recently honored  by CNN IBN in the very inaugural edition of their program called India Positive. These awards delve into India’s hidden resource that cradles the wounded, makes peace among communities and improves lives of others with their selfless acts. Col. Pillay was one of the only three awardees to be felicitated with The Special Achievement Award  for his acts of courage and optimism and bringing about a bigger change in the country.
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