Updated February 28th, 2024 at 19:09 IST

Remembering Major Gopi Singh Rathore’s journey from the Rashtrapathi Bhavan to Kashmir’s frontlines

Major Gopi Singh Rathore, a decorated soldier and literary talent, made the supreme sacrifice in the Bandipora operation during the peak of insurgency in 2005.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
On this day, Major Gopi Singh Rathore, an IMA topper, ADC to two Presidents, a writer and a Braveheart, made the supreme sacrifice in J&K. | Image:ADGPI
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In the harsh winters of 1998-99, during the peak of insurgency in the Kashmir Valley, Major Gopi Singh Rathore emerged as a beacon of courage. Born on 14th November 1970 in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, Major Rathore was commissioned into the 16 Garhwal Rifles battalion of the Garhwal Rifles Regiment in December 1992 at the tender age of 22. From the outset, he showcased exceptional prowess, earning the coveted 'Sword of Honor' for standing first in the order of merit. It was on this day in 2005, when Major Gopi Singh made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. 

Major Rathore's brilliance extended beyond the battlefield. A passionate reader and writer, he had a matchless love for literature. Despite being a valiant soldier, he possessed a philosophical disposition to life. His colleagues affectionately called him 'Eagle,' a testament to his fearless service in various terrorist-hit areas in Jammu and Kashmir, where he led many successful operations. 

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From the President’s ADC back to frontlines 

Major Rathore's extraordinary journey took him to Rashtrapathi Bhavan, where he served as the Aide-de-Charge (ADC) to the President of India, K.R. Narayanan, for almost five years. His commendable service continued with the next president, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Rathore's role extended beyond military protocol; he gained an in-depth knowledge of the plants in the Mughal Garden, showcasing his multifaceted persona.

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Major Gopi Singh as President APJ Abdul Kalam's ADC | Credit- Lt Gen Satish Dua

His tenure at Rashtrapathi Bhavan saw the publication of two books in Hindi - "Aaj Se Pehle," a collection of poems, and "Aur Kya Chahiye," a compilation of short stories. Despite the grandeur of Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Major Rathore longed to be back in the thick of operations. Volunteering for a posting to Jammu and Kashmir, he was deputed to serve with the 14 RR battalion for counter-insurgency operations. His return marked not just a continuation of duty but a testament to his unwavering commitment to the nation's security. 

Bandipora Operation - The ultimate sacrifice 

The climax of Major Rathore's illustrious journey unfolded during the Bandipora operation on 10th November 2005. Deployed in a region infested with militants, the 14 RR battalion, led by Major Rathore, launched an operation to flush out terrorists holed up in a building. The operation, based on intelligence inputs, quickly escalated into a fierce firefight.

In the tense operation led by Major Gopi and his courageous troops, they swiftly reached the suspected area, initiating a meticulous cordon. The terrorists, sensing the tightening grip of the CASO laid by the security forces, responded with indiscriminate gunfire, setting the stage for a fierce and perilous gun battle. Major Gopi, exemplifying extraordinary valor, engaged in close combat, successfully neutralizing one of the terrorists.  

Tragically, amidst the intense exchange of gunfire, Major Gopi sustained multiple gunshot wounds, ultimately succumbing to his injuries. Poignantly, his sacrifice unfolded on the very next day following the demise of his former boss, KR Narayanan, former President of India, marking a somber chapter in the annals of courage and sacrifice. Notably, Major Gopi Singh was just four days short of his 35th birthday when he laid down his life for the nation. 

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Honoring a hero's legacy 

Major Gopi Singh Rathore, a valiant soldier and an officer par excellence, was posthumously awarded the "Shaurya Chakra" for his outstanding courage, leadership, and supreme sacrifice. The nation mourned the loss of a literary genius and a braveheart, whose life story transcended conventional narratives. 

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In remembering Major Rathore, the nation pays homage not just to a soldier but to a soul that embraced both the pen and the sword with equal fervor. His tale, rich with emotional layers, speaks of a man who, in the face of danger, remained not just a guardian of the borders but a storyteller of resilience, courage, and sacrifice. The legacy of Major Gopi Singh Rathore lives on, inspiring generations with a narrative that intertwines duty, literature, and unwavering commitment to the nation. 

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Published November 10th, 2023 at 15:23 IST