HYDERABAD: Former Chief of Army Staff (1981-83) KV Krishna Rao, who played a key role in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, passed away at the Army Hospital (Research and Referral) in New Delhi after a cardiac arrest on Saturday. He was 93.
Born in Vijayawada in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh on July 16, 1923, to KS Narayana Rao and K Lakshmi Rao. He is survived by wife, a son and a daughter. The general, who also served as governor of Jammu & Kashmir, started his career as an army officer during World War II, when he had served in Burma, North West Frontier and Baluchistan. Gen Rao was commissioned in August 1942 and saw action as a Company Commander of 3 Mahar in Kashmir operations of 1948.
During extensive Punjab disturbances in the run up to the partition in 1947, he served both in East and West Punjab. He also participated in the 1947-48 war against Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir. He was a founder Instructor of the National Defence Academy during 1949-51.
His moment of glory came as the GOC of 8 Mountain Division in Sylhet sector in the 1971 War. In 1975-76, while posted in the Army Headquarters, he headed the Expert Committee on Re-organisation and Modernisation of defence services.
Krishna Rao became the chief of army staff on June 1, 1981 and held the post until July 1983. He was also chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the highest appointment in the Services, during March 1982 to July 1983.
Post retirement: After his retirement, he served two terms as governor of J&K when militancy flared up - first was a brief few months in 1989-90. When the militancy picked pace, the Narasimha Rao government turned to the General, and he returned as the J&K governor in March 1993, and served through the tumultuous period until May 1998.
From June 1984 to July 1989, Rao was the Governor of Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura. He also served short tenures as the governor of Mizoram. Rao narrowly escaped three blasts that rocked the MA Stadium in Jammu during an R-Day parade in 1995.
He was awarded the Param Vishist Seva Medal for displaying outstanding leadership, courage, determination and drive during this war. Condolences Pour from all quarters: President Pranab Mukherjee condoled the passing away of General Krishna Rao and in a message to his son, KVL Narayan Rao, the President said: "I am sad to learn about the passing away of your father, General Krishna Rao. General Rao was a distinguished public servant who made his mark as Chief of the Army Staff."
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said: "He was a visionary who led ably, inspired a generation of soldiers and initiated modernization of the Indian Army in the early 1980s. His contribution in the 1971 war and maintaining the unity and integrity of the country shall always be remembered.''