Jaipur: Decorated army officer Lt Gen B S Raju has retired as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of crucial South-Western Command, handing over the charge to Lt Gen Dhiraj Seth, officials have said.
A well-known face in strife-torn Kashmir valley, Raju was an alumnus of Sainik School, Bijapur, and the National Defence Academy. He was commissioned in the Jat Regiment in December 1984.
He hung up his boots on Tuesday after serving in the army for 39 years.
Before being posted as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South-Western Command, Lt Gen Raju was holding the position of Vice-Chief of the army.
A trained helicopter pilot who carried out operational flying in Somalia under a UN Mission, Raju was decorated for his contribution to the service with Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Yudh Seva Medal.
Lt Gen Raju served in Kashmir valley in various capacities such as the Uri Brigade Commander, GOC of Victor Force (anti-militancy unit overlooking south and central Kashmir), and GOC Chinar Corps.
During his stay, Lt Gen Raju strongly propagated for a second chance to the misguided youth as he believed it to be critical to achieving lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir, the officials said.
During his tenure, the army took proactive steps to connect with the youth, including those who had picked up guns against the state, the officials said, adding his initiatives yielded encouraging response in terms of surrenders.
Lt Gen Raju took over the command of Srinagar-based XV corps in a critical phase in 2020 when Kashmir was confronted with the twin challenges of terrorism and the COVID-19 pandemic and the tenure was defined by an improved security environment prevailing both on the Line of Control (LoC) and in Kashmir.
On the LoC, his approach combined a forward heavy deployment enabled by a dense electronic and surveillance grid. Pakistani ceasefire violations were given punitive responses resulting in operational ascendancy by the Indian Army, they said.
Under him, the army effectively used its deployment grid, especially in far-flung areas, to be the first respondent in case of need, they said, adding grassroots interactions such as intra-dialogue within the youth and ‘Day with Company Commander’ received overwhelming response.
Lt Gen Raju was awarded the prestigious Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM) in recognition of his contribution in taking Kashmir on a positive trajectory on the path of lasting peace.