Meet A Braveheart Soldier Col. D.P.K Pillay Who Kicked A Live Grenade Away
Hello Defence Lovers, A soldier’s wish is always to be remembered as a savior, not a killer. And only a very few brave souls like Colonel Pillay are granted this wish. A brave soldier of the nation. But before that, he proved himself to be a great human being with his humanitarian act.
- In Year, 1994. Date , 25th January. Place, Manipur. Militants were inside a room in the village Longdi Pabram, a hamlet in the remote Tamenglong district of Manipur. These militants were heavily armed and were ready to launch an attack. But instead of giving them the leverage to shoot at their will, a brave Indian army solider decided to take the lead.
- On that fateful day, for then Captain D.P.K Pillay (Colonel (Dr.) Divakaran Padma Kumar Pillay), his duty took priority over his own life. He broke open the door and entered the room, only to face a burst of AK-47. He took four bullets in his chest, arms in that sudden action. In between the gunshots, a grenade was hurled at him which he managed to see in the darkness. He kicked away the grenade but the grenade blew on his leg, taking a portion of his leg away.
“I don’t know how I saw the grenade in the darkness but instantly, I kicked the grenade and the grenade blew on my leg, taking a portion of my leg away,” he says.
- In the meantime two children, Masebiliu and Dingamang, were also severely injured in the crossfire. However the helicopters arrived soon to evacuate the severely injured brave young Captain of the Indian Army. But even in that plight, Captain Pillay stood by the motto he was imbibed during his National Defence Academy days i.e. Service Before Self.
- “The nearest hospital was about 6 hours. There’s no way the children would have survived. I think I knew that I had 5 minutes of life left in me and I can hang on extra bit. So I told the pilot not to worry about me, and instead get these children evacuated and treated first“, said Colonel DPK Pillay. He then hung on for two more hours, waiting for the next evacuation. As known to all of us that fortune favors only the brave, he now still lives with pride, inspires a generation with his bravery. Then Captain Pillay is now Colonel Pillay.
- When asked why he chose his course of action over his own evacuation as he himself was dying, Pillay said that the “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.
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- 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 Mahatma 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.”
- At a young age of 24, Colonel Pillay was decorated with the Shaurya Chakra – India’s highest peacetime gallantry award and, eighteen years later, he paid a visit to Temelong again. The village had not forgotten his act of kindness and, in gratitude, the entire village gathered around him.
- He was inducted as an important member of the local community and was felicitated in a big way. The soldier’s humanitarian service has also earned him the moniker of ‘Pillay Pamei’ among the local population. ‘Pamei’ is the surname of a clan of the influential Zeliangrong community residing in the village.
- But Pillay, never in his dreams, thought that he would ever come face to face with the man who had shot him. “I just can’t believe it! I went to see the village, I didn’t know I’d meet him,” Pillay said. He hugged the former militant leaving behind the fact that they both came close to killing each other 16 years ago in that same attack.
- “It’s something anyone would do I think. She did not know why she was shot, I knew what I was doing there, they knew what they were fighting for. So we owed it to her. It’s amazing coming back here,” said Col DPK Pillay.
- It is not every day that we get to witness such selfless service and Colonol Pillay is an example of incredible bravery and kindness.
- Today, Colonel Pillay overseas livelihood programmers for the village and is instrumental in bringing a motor-able road to the village. He organizes developmental activities in the region. Prompted by Pillay’s initiatives, the BRTF has started the groundwork to construct a new 28-km road connecting the village with Tamenglong district headquarters.
- For villagers of Longdi Pabram, a hamlet in the remote Tamenglong district, Colonel DPK Pillay is a savior of sorts, having saved the lives of two children, as well as paving the way to a better future for them. No wonder he has aptly earned himself the title ‘Hero of Manipur’ and ‘Savior of Longdipabram.’
- In 2015, he was awarded a PhD Degree by Punjab University, Chandigarh for his thesis titled ‘Evaluation of Models of Human Security with Special reference to India.’
We salute his bravery and can’t thank him enough for being a great example to the motto, Service Before Self. Colonel Pillay’s act proves it once again that humanity has no tribe, no language, no religion. And above all, humanity needs no reason.