D. P. K. Pillay

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Divakaran Padma Kumar Pillay

Born (1967-08-12) 12 August 1967 (age 54)
Kannur, Kerala, India
Allegiance India
Service/branch Indian Army
UnitBrigade of the Guards
AwardsShaurya Chakra ribbon.svg Shaurya Chakra
ChildrenSiddhartha Pillay
Harshavardhan Pillay
Vikramaditya Pillay

Colonel (Dr.) Divakaran Padma Kumar (DPK) Pillay, SC (born 12 August 1967) is a former Indian Army officer. He was severely wounded in counter insurgency operations in Longdi Pabram village, a hamlet in the remote Tamenglong district of Manipur in India's northeast, where he saved the lives of 2 children - a boy named Dingamang Pamei and a girl named Masebiliu Pamei, despite his injuries.[1][2][3] 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.[4][5] In 2015, he was awarded a PhD Degree by Panjab University, Chandigarh for his thesis titled "Evaluation of Models of Human Security with Special reference to India".y

Early life and education[edit]

Pillay was born on 12 August 1967 in Kannur, Kerala, India, to Major and Mrs A.V. Divakaran Pillay. He was educated at Bangalore Military School in Bangalore, Karnataka. He went on to join the 72nd course of National Defence Academy in 1984, which he graduated in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in Arts. Pillay also holds a master's degree from Sikkim Manipal University.

Pillay was awarded a Ph.D. by Panjab University, Chandigarh for his doctoral thesis on "Evaluation of Models of Human Security with Special Reference to India". His thesis examines the concept of human security as propounded by various agencies like the UN, multilateral agencies and NGO's as well as countries such as Japan, Canada, and other countries . Human security prioritizes non-military methods as a means of achieving security without compromising the priorities accorded to traditional security threats. It requires the fulfillment of people’s basic needs and rights. The thesis examines the scope for adoption of a Human Security approach within a normative and policy framework in India. He infers, that a human security approach can be usefully applied as a policy measure in India to reinforce successes in the social and economic spheres, so that the possibility of dissatisfaction turning into violent opposition and internal conflict is minimized. His article titled "Applying Human Security in Indian Context" has been published by Routledge in its publication Strategic Analysis Issue no 40 Volume 1.[6]

Pillay was also a research fellow at Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi[7] and at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.[8] He is also an alumnus of Geneva Centre for Security Policy where he has attended the NISC course in 2007.[9] He also hold a graduate degree from Fordham University, New York City, having completed the module of the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance course serial no 42. He is also on the roster of United Nations Civil Military Coordinators having qualified on the UN CM Coordination course in 2014.

Military career[edit]

After graduating from the National Defence Academy in 1988, Pillay was commissioned into the 4th battalion of the Brigade of the Guards (4 Guards). He saw active service in the Indian states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir before moving to the 8th battalion of the Brigade of the Guards (8 Guards) deployed in India's northeast, 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.[10]

In a fateful patrol Pillay led in 1994, he was tasked to protect a few tribal villages during a phase of disturbance that involved ethnic clashes between Nagas and Kukis in Manipur's Tamenglong district. He managed to track down insurgents from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) hiding in Tamenglong and successfully ambushed them in Longdi Pabram village. However, after the surrender of the militants, 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.[11]

This noble act won over not only the villagers but also the insurgents in the area. Though the villagers presumed that Pillay had died in the encounter, a patrol team sent to the village in March 2010 connected the villagers to Pillay 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.[12] 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".[13]


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. 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!"[14]

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."[15]

Honours and awards[edit]

Pillay was selected to serve in his alma mater, Bangalore Military School, after he was decorated with the Shaurya Chakra, India's third highest peacetime gallantry award. The then Chief of Army Staff who presided over the School Golden Jubilee celebrations, General Shankar Roychowdhury, 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.[16] In 2006, he joined the Ministry of Defence as the Planning Officer (Defence) - the first service officer to do so. While on this assignment he represented the Ministry of Defence at the Conference on Disarmament at the UN office at Geneva, for the review conference on the use of Certain Conventional Weapons in 2007 and 2008.[17] He was also part of the Indian delegation led by HE Pranab Mukherjee to the United Nations General Assembly in 2006.

Pillay was honoured by CNN IBN in the very inaugural edition of their program called India Positive.[18] 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.[19]

Shaurya Chakra ribbon.svg Wound Medal-India.svg
IND Samanya Seva medal.svg IND Special Service Medal Ribbon.svg IND Operation Parakram medal.svg
IND Sainya Seva Medal Ribbon.svg IND 50th Anniversary Independence medal.svg IND 20YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg IND 9YearsServiceMedalRibbon.svg
Shaurya Chakra Wound Medal
Samanya Seva Medal Special Service Medal Operation Parakram Medal
Sainya Seva Medal 50th Anniversary of Independence Medal 20 Years Long Service Medal 9 Years Long Service Medal

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "27 yrs after he saved a boy in Manipur, 'proud' retired Armyman shares a good news about him". 25 January 2021.
  3. ^ "'Light' Retirement for Soldier Who Defied Death to Become 'God of Longdipabram'".
  4. ^ A soldier's emotional journey | NDTV.com
  5. ^ A story that has changed lives in Manipur Video: NDTV.com
  6. ^ Pillay, D. P. K. (2016). "Applying Human Security in the Indian Context". Strategic Analysis. 40: 41–55. doi:10.1080/09700161.2015.1116246. S2CID 155700958.
  7. ^ Exit from Afghanistan: Playing the Game and not learning the lessons | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 June 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Kishalay Bhattacharjee - A Story that has changed lives in ManipurStories can change lives. At least L Pabram village in Manipur's Tamenglong district has been witne.. - NDTV ...[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Unique saga of a soldier who Manipur loves - India - IBNLive
  12. ^ Manipur village awaits 'saviour' soldier - Times Of India
  13. ^ Colonel DPK Pillay, the soldier who Manipur loves, Unique Saga | KanglaOnline
  14. ^ "Geneva Centre for Security Policy - GCSP / Emerging Security Challenges / New Issues in Security / Programme News / Lt. Col. DPK Pillay, NISC Alumnus, An Extraordinary Tale of..." Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  15. ^ "Cotton Boys get lesson in Int'l humanitarian law". Archived from the original on 19 August 2014.
  16. ^ Military School Bangalore - Bangalore
  17. ^ https://disarmament-library.un.org/UNODA/Library.nsf/95c7e7dc864dfc0a85256bc8005085b7/655807a0accd469a852573990054a563/$FILE/CCW-APII-CONF9-INF1.pdf Archived 2 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine)
  18. ^ "CNN-IBN felicitates Positive Indians". Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  19. ^ Inspirational Indians Felicitated at India Positive Awards - Indian Television News and Updates

External links[edit]