Kerala

Major Gopakumar: Remembering a war hero from Thiruvananthapuram

Major R. Gopakumar with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The arrival of the ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ (Victory Flame) in the capital on Saturday was an occasion to remember a hero from this city whose brave actions in the eastern sector during the 1971 Indo-Pak war won him the Vir Chakra.

During the war, Raman Pillai Gopakumar, a young Army captain at the time, was posted as GSO-3 (Intelligence) at the Eastern Command. He organised and led the Mukti Bahini operatives in a series of daring missions against the enemy. This included the capture of a well-fortified position that forced the surrender of enemy soldiers.

R. Gopakumar was awarded the Vir Chakra, the third highest war-time gallantry medal, when the war ended. The Mukti Bahini commander of Dhaka Rural Zone presented him a pistol in honour of his association with the guerrilla resistance movement.

Former President V. V. Giri presenting the Vir Chakra to Major R. Gopakumar.

Former President V. V. Giri presenting the Vir Chakra to Major R. Gopakumar.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Later promoted to the rank of Major, Gopakumar passed away in 1982. On Sunday, the Indian Army will carry the 'Victory Flame', lit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the eternal flame of the National War Memorial in New Delhi in December, to his house at Observatory Lane here. The Swarnim Vijay Mashaal commemorates the 50th year of India's victory in the 1971 war. Major Gopakumar's wife, Geetha, will be felicitated on the occasion.

The Army will also collect soil from his home that will be used to plant trees at the National War Memorial.

Wedding gift

A newspaper cutting from the 1970s preserved by the family notes that he received a reward of ₹5,000 from the Kerala government. And that came as a wedding gift. The then Chief Minister C. Achutha Menon presented the officer with the cheque at a function on the same day he got married to Geetha.

An alumnus of the SMV High School, the Government Arts College and the Mar Ivanios College, he was commissioned into the 9 Madras (Travancore) as an Emergency Commissioned Officer (ECO) on May 3, 1964.

The 9 Madras, drawn from the erstwhile Travancore Forces, has a special significance for Major Gopakumar's family. His son Sanjay Gopakumar, a retired Colonel, also was commissioned into the same unit, and later commanded it in 2014 in Thiruvananthapuram.

Colonel (Retd) Sanjay is a recipient of the Vishisht Seva Medal. Major Gopakumar also has a daughter, Sanjini Menon, an HR professional in Bengaluru.


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 10:13:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/major-gopakumar-remembering-a-war-hero-from-thiruvananthapuram/article35121924.ece

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