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P.V.M Pillai - One Of India's Billion

By Rajat Kumar Mishra

For the first chapter of the column “One in a billion” we went out and interviewed  P.V.M Pillai, retired hawaldar CRPF, who is currently the security in-charge BITS Pilani Hyderabad campus. The hardened discipline and air of confidence we relate to a former military man was clearly visible in his demeanor. The atmosphere of the interview was light hearted. Irrespective of the question we put to him, he never got emotional and provided us with lucid, crystal clear answers.
Mr.Pillai hails from Hyderabad, though he has been, in his own words, everywhere from “Kashmir to Kanyakumari”. Despite our insistent probing, he did not speak much about his early childhood or family life.
With a hint of regret, he told us that his initial plan was to join the police forces. But due to opposition from his parents with regards to his post in the state police forces, he was forced to drop out. On his brother’s insistence, he joined the CRPF. When asked whether his family was not concerned about his safety,, his only reply was that to them, it was all about the money. There, he went through rigorous training which included running 22kms daily with heavy weapons, drills like long jump, high jump and trench crawling. This training took a heavy toll on is body. There is a glint in his eye when he speaks of his work with arms like the LMG (Light Machine Gun), INSAS Rifle, AK-47, and various pistols and grenades.
Like most people, he was more comfortable talking about his professional life rather than his personal life. He worked in Punjab as the part of a 22 member platoon which had duties like escorting VIPs etc. The platoon had once had  an encounter with terrorists. Suspecting terrorist activity in a village, the platoon was ordered to guard it. During the course of duty there, terrorists open fired at the platoon. One militant was killed by a friend of his on the spot. They then managed to force the terrorists into a hut and blew it up with grenades. The platoon was awarded medals by renowned personnel.
Another blood curling encounter he had with terrorists was in Jheera, Kashmir (Ushapur District). A terrorist van attacked their check post. His group attacked the van, punctured the tires and then killed the three militants. One of his platoon members was awarded the Rashtrapati Medal for bravery. He also had another encounter with militants in Assam ( Darang dist.).
He left CRPF due to personal reasons. As he recollected the moment, a hint of sadness crept into his eyes. It was a sentimental moment of him, as he had been  very attached to his job and colleagues. After leaving CRPF Mr.Pillai worked as the Security In-charge in ICICI Bank Hyderabad. He then switched to security training and finally joined BITS Hyderabad Security Department under NISA.
Even though Mr.Pillai has been away from the frontline for some time now, he still takes an active interest in the developments in the issues regarding the army. He strongly believes that the army needs to be more disciplined and carefully  tackle issues like terrorism and naxalism, as small mistakes can lead to serious casualties. He also believes that the army is not to be blamed for the dismal situation in Kashmir. The problem he believes is the mindset of the local people.
Before ending the interview we asked for his opinion on the campus and the students. Quoting his own words:
He signs off by saying, “The campus and students are good. Some of them are mischievous, but without that the college is not complete.”


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