Gen. K. V. Krishna Rao, an able army chief who put down insurgencies Recollections of a Communicator

By: I. Ramamohan Rao

New Delhi, Jan 30 (ANI) In the passing away of General K.V. Krishna Rao, the nation has lost an eminent Army Officer who played an eminent role in the Army as also in putting down insurgency in Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur, and later in Jammu and Kashmir.

During my stay in the Defence Ministry and later in Government as Principal Information Officer, I was in close contact with him . When I took over as Director of Public Relations in the Defence Ministry in 1981, he was the Chief of Army Staff. I had asked him that I would like to cover Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s address to the Army Commander’s Conference, but he told me that only the Army Commanders, Defence Minister and the Prime Minister’s team are permitted. He said the release will be given to me by the Army Headquarters by 5 p.m.

However, after the meeting, I called on Defence Minister R.Venkataraman and asked him about the meeting. He gave me the details, the text of his speech, and what Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had told the commanders from the notes he had taken down.

I prepared a release, cleared it from H.Y. Sharada Prasad in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr Alexander and with clearance from the Defence Secretary, released it at 5 p.m. as the Army Headquarters had not sent their copy.

I was summoned to Army Chief’s Office and Gen. Krishna Rao asked me where did I get the facts” . He seemed to be annoyed. When I narrated the facts as to how I got the facts and got them cleared, he replied: “Ram, you have done a good job. My blokes would not have done as good a release as you have done.’ He also told me to approach him directly any time I wanted to see him.

I was the DPR (Defence) till he retired . in South Block, my office used to be below his office on the ground floor and he used to drop into my room in the evening. My association with him continued when he was a Governor in the North East and in Jammu and Kashmir .

When Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed him as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in July 1989, after making a study, he said to put down the insurgency, he wanted a few paramilitary battalions. When suggested by Home Minister Buta Singh that he could use the Army, as CRPF units were required for duties during national elections which were due to he held shortly, he replied that he did not want the Army to be used in Jammu and Kashmir.

The situation took a turn for the worse when the Congress lost power at the Centre and V. P. Singh took over. Following the release of militants in exchange for Rubiya Sayed, the daughter of former Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, and the worsening of the situation, he wanted to get an appointment with Prime Minister V.P. Singh. When there was a delay in getting the appointment, he resigned as governor.

Jagmohan , who was appointed Governor, remained for a brief while and was replaced by G. C. Saxena. General Krishna Rao was reappointed Governor, when the Congress returned to power and Rajesh Pilot was appointed as the Minister of State in the Home Ministry.

By that time, I had taken over as the Advisor to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. I worked closely with him and the credit for preparing for the National Elections held in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Assembly elections should go to General Krishna Rao.

He gained the confidence of the people of the state, dealt effectively with events like the police agitation, the Hazratbal crisis when militants took refuge in the holy shrine . Following the swearing in of the democratically elected government headed by Dr. Farooq Abdulla , he remained Governor for a short period and settled in Secunderabad.

When he left his post as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, he wrote in his reminicences: I accepted this assignment as I felt that the integrity of the nation being at stake. I could help in bringing back peace and reviving democracy, and I am grateful to God that He used me as his instrument to accomplish this task.”

Mr. I. Ramamohan Rao is a former Principal Information Officer of the Government of India. He can be reached at (ANI)

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