War hero who bombarded Karachi port in 1971 passes away

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Commodore Kasargod Patnashetti Gopal Rao, a 1971 war hero and recipient of the Mahavir Chakra, breathed his last here on Monday, said sources in the defence.

He was 94.

The naval veteran died of age-related illness and is survived by two daughters and a son.

Rao was a recipient of the Veer Seva Medal also.

He played a key role in the war with Pakistan to liberate East Pakistan that is now Bangladesh.

Rao led a small task group of the Western Fleet and launched an offensive off the coast of Karachi as part of Operation Cactus Lily.

Notwithstanding the threat of air, surface and submarine attack, he led the group into enemy waters on the night of December 4, 1971.

Despite the gunfire from the enemy posing a grave risk to Indian ships and personnel, Commander Rao pressed on and sunk two destroyers and a minesweeper.

After the surface engagement, he bombarded the port of Karachi and torched the oil and other installations there.

He displayed gallantry and outstanding leadership in the operation, the sources said.

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