9th November 2005 Shri K.R.Narayanan, who was 9th President of our Republic during 1997 and 2002 passed away after serving the nation with distinction. His exceptional legacy in defending the Constitution and Secularism constitutes crowning glory for the whole nation.
Next day I.e. on 10th November 2005 Major Gopi, who served President Narayanan as his ADC for almost five years, laid down his life in Kashmir in a fierce encounter with terrorists whose diabolical activities endangered our unity and integrity.
The exceptionally great and fulfilling tenure I had in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President K.R.Narayanan can be attributed to what I did centering around President Narayanan and Major Gopi.
The tragic passing away of both of them in such quick succession shattered me completely. While President Narayanan was bound by his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of India, Major Gopi defended our unity, integrity and pluralistic heritage as one of the finest soldiers of Indian Army.
COMMISSIONED IN 16 GARHWAL RIFLES IN DECEMBER 1992 MAJOR GOPI WAS a soldier of extraordinary caliber. His ardent love for books and his undying passion for reading, writing and composing poems remained the distinguishing features of his life.
His quest for knowledge and capacity to cultivate wisdom amply brought out his expansive outlook and the majesty of his personality. His numerous poems and short stories demonstrated his creative faculties, literary and philosophical bent of mind and rich imagination.
Apart from serving President Narayanan he had the distinction of serving former President of India Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam for a few months. It is Major Gopi who consciously preferred to go back to Kashmir and serve in the rough and tough hilly terrain of Kashmir infested with terrorists, after the completion of his glorious tenure in Rsahtrapati Bhavan.
A charismatic soldier he added lusture to the positions he held and invested them with rare dignity,charm, grace and authority. In combining excellence of a soldier with the creative ability of a writer and poet and in upholding robust humanism and spiritual values he displayed unparalleled maturity far surpassing his chronological age.
Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi, the former Governor of West Bengal justly described him as “the flower of the Indian Army” and a Professor of English literature from Chandigarh University hailed him as 'Sant Sipahi', the exalted honorific title of a revered Sikh Guru. Such rare honour bestowed on him underlined his extraordinary virtues and high standard of conduct.
The people of the villages of the Jammu and Kashmir where he served and laid down his life showered on him abundant love for his understanding, compassion and innate goodness and humanism. The announcement from the Mosque of the Arin village, where he attained martyrdom on 10th November 2005, urging people not to cook dinner that evening testified to the respect he commanded.
He made the supreme sacrifice in laying down his life in a fierce encounter with terrorists right at the time when the funeral pyre of late President Shri K.R.Narayanan was being lit. An outstanding soldier with a winsome personality, philosophical outlook and "Roshan Khayali", Enlightened Thinking, his bravery, sacrifice and value based life will shine for ever. You are immortal Gopi.
# The author was OSD and Press Secretary to the late President of India Shri K.R.Narayanan and served as Director in the Prime Minister's Office. He is currently Joint Secretary in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. The views expressed by the author are his personal views