Profession: Army Personnel
Age: 58 Years
Wife: Shakuntala Raju
Some Lesser Known Facts About Baggavalli Somashekar Raju
- Baggavalli Somashekar Raju is a three-star general in the Indian Army, who has recently been appointed as the 44th Vice Chief of the Army Staff. He is also known for bringing reforms to the Indian Army’s 15 Corps. He is also accredited with increasing the Indian Army’s interaction with the local Kashmiri Awaam.
- BS Raju’s affiliation with the Indian Army began at a very young age. He, joined the prestigious Sainik School, Bijapur; after passing a pan India level examination.
- BS Raju completed his schooling in 1979 and then appeared for the entrance exam for the National Defence Academy. He joined the NDA in December 1980.
- Upon completing 3 years of rigorous training at NDA, BS Raju, in 1983, joined the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun, where he was trained for one more year, and in December 1984, BS Raju was commissioned in the Jat Regiment of the Indian Army.
- BS Raju was commissioned in the 11th Battalion of the Jat Regiment. Where he held several important, battalion based appointments, such as Company Commander, Adjutant and the Second in Command.
- BS Raju is also a qualified helicopter pilot. He served with the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps and flew several aerial reconnaissance missions, during the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Somalia.
- As a young Major, BS Raju held an important appointment as a Brigade Major.
- From 2001 to 2002, BS Raju also participated in Operation Parakram. He, later on, went on to command the 15th Battalion of the Jat Regiment.
- In 2009, after completing his command of 15 Jat, BS Raju served as the Directing Staff of the Defence Services Staff College. He was also posted as an instructor at War College, Mhow at Madhya Pradesh.
- As a Colonel, BS Raju was posted as a Military Secretary (Legal) at Army Headquarters in Delhi.
- Upon getting promoted to the rank of a Brigadier, BS Raju, in 2011, was appointed as the commander of the Uri Brigade. He then went on to serve as the Brigadier General Staff (BGS) at Indian Army’s Kashmir based White Knight Corps.
- Upon being promoted to the rank of Major General, BS Raju was appointed as the Deputy Director-General of Military Operations (DDGMO) and then he was appointed as the Director-General Staff Duties (DGSD) at Army Headquarters, Delhi.
- As a Major General, BS Raju was also appointed as the Commandant of the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan; where he oversaw the training of the Bhutanese soldiers, serving in the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) and the Royal Bodyguard of Bhutan (RBG).
- From 2017 to 2018, BS Raju commanded the Indian Army’s elite counter-terrorist force, Victor Force. It was during BS Raju’s tenure as a commander, that Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy, Burhan Wani was tracked and killed by the Indian Army.
- As Victor Force commander, BS Raju personally oversaw that the killers of young Kashmiri army officer, Lieutenant Umar Fayaz, were brought to justice.
- BS Raju also convinced a young Kashmiri, and a talented footballer, Majid Khan to surrender.
- In 2019, BS Raju was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.
- BS Raju, From 1 March 2020 to 17 May 2021, served as the Corps Commander of the 15 Corps.
- During his military service, BS Raju has been posted to the Kashmir region, more than five times.
- While serving in the Rashtriya Rifles, BS Raju laid down emphasis on human values and cultivated an interpersonal relationship with the locals of Kashmir. In an interview, BS Raju said,
The Army is a friend of every civilian and that message has been conveyed aptly by my predecessor. My every attempt would be to continue this practice.”
- As the 15 Corps commander, BS Raju changed his tactics. He, rather than following the simple, locate and kill tactics, adopted a much more humanitarian approach. Before the gunfight, he asked the on-ground commanders to give the militants a chance to surrender. He also laid a huge emphasis on better provisioning rehabilitation and resettlement facilities to the surrendered militants. In an interview, he said,
The armed forces don’t want to kill militants and that an opportunity to surrender is given to every militant. As I said, every loss of life is unfortunate. We don’t even want to kill militants, we give them an opportunity to surrender. Militants striking in populated areas seek civil casualties because that gets attention. Civilian deaths provide fodder to propaganda machines. Security forces show restraint. Even to the militants, we always offer the choice to surrender.”
- Due to the newly adopted tactics by BS Raju, the number of surrenders in the Kashmir valley increased tremendously. This also curbed the recruitment of the locals into the banned terror outfits.
- BS Raju also believes in connecting directly with the youth of Kashmir. While addressing the youth, in an interview, BS Raju said,
My main message to youth – is you can get back and we will take care of you. In the last six months, seventeen of those who had strayed have come back and we will take care of them. My appeal to the youth who have gone astray is to come back. They can get back anytime, including during operations. They can call anybody, their parents, our helpline and we will organise their return.”
- As the 15 Corps commander, BS Raju established a direct link between himself and the locals. The 15 Corps established a Feedback and Grievances Helpline number. Through this, the locals could lodge a complaint or any grievances, directly with the Corps commander. This move was aimed at making the forces more answerable to the Kashmiri Awaam.
- To increase the local populace’s interaction with the soldiers, BS Raju came up with a brilliant scheme named, “A Day With The Company Commanders.” Under this scheme, the locals would come and interact with the Indian Army. This reduced the barrier between the troops and the locals, especially the youth; BS Raju referred to the youth as the “Generation of Rage.”
- The scheme was very successful. As a result of which, different military divisions across the Kashmir valley, adopted it as well.
- To assist the locals living in the far-flung areas of Kashmir, the Indian Army’s 15 Corps, under the command of BS Raju; began Khairiyat Patrol. Under this, the Indian Army would travel to the unreachable areas, and assist the locals. BS Raju laid more emphasis on the patrol during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Under BS Raju’s command, the Indian Army’s 15 Corps began organising and conducting several sports and cultural programmes in Kashmir. The move was aimed at establishing and maintaining a cordial relationship between the locals from different areas.
- The Indian Army has been running the Army Goodwill Schools, all across the Kashmir valley, but it was during the tenure of BS Raju, that digital learning was introduced in the schools. He also laid more emphasis on improving the teaching methods in the schools. Due to his efforts, the results of the Army Goodwill Schools, especially in class 10th and 12th boards, improved by leaps and bounds.
- During BS Raju’s command of the 15 Corps, European delegates had come to Kashmir, under the United Nations’ charter, to experience the development of Kashmir.
- In 2021, while serving as the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO), India and Pakistan decided to adhere to the norms of the 2003 ceasefire agreement, along the Line of Control. This move was welcomed by BS Raju, and in an interview he said,
Observing a ceasefire is in the best interest of both India and Pakistan, and is the need of the hour and I want this truce to work. The locals living along the border will get a chance to live their normal lives, which was hampered by numerous cease fire violations in the past.”
- BS Raju, as DGMO, oversaw the maintenance Indian Army’s overall operational preparedness during the intense Sino-Indian standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- On 1 May 2022, BS Raju took over as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff from General Manoj Pande.
General MM Naravane #COAS & All Ranks of #IndianArmy congratulate Lieutenant General BS Raju on being appointed as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff #VCOAS of #IndianArmy. Lt Gen BS Raju will assume the appointment of #VCOAS on 01 May 2022.#IndianArmy#InStrideWithTheFuture pic.twitter.com/kM6q6n3g67
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) April 29, 2022
- BS Raju, later on, will be appointed as an Army Commander. He will become the second Lieutenant General, in the history of the Indian Army, to be made an Army Commander after holding the post of the Vice Chief of the Army Staff.
- BS Raju has always maintained a tough stance on Pakistan. While talking about the situation in Pakistan, he said in an interview,
We are always prepared to give them a befitting reply and we will always defeat their (Pakistan’s) dangerous and nefarious designs.”
- On 8 April 2022, BS Raju launched the book, “Tiger of Drass.” The book is based upon the actions of the Kargil War hero, Captain Anuj Nayyar, Maha Vir Chakra.