News and Events News, Events, and Press Release

Commemorating K S Pillai: an Indian diplomat killed in Ottawa sixty years ago




Commemorating K S Pillai:

an Indian diplomat killed in Ottawa sixty years ago

The High Commission of India in Ottawa, in association with the Indian Foreign Service Association, conducted a memorial meeting onApril 19 to mark the 60thdeath anniversary of Mr K S Pillai, who was killed on this day in 1961 while serving as an Indian diplomat in Ottawa. Mr Pillai, who joined the first batch of the Indian Foreign Service in 1948, fell to a deranged assassin’s bullet as he worked on his desk.

Mr Harsh Shringla, Foreign Secretary, addressed the virtual event that saw participation of serving and former Indian diplomats, as well as friends and family members of Mr Pillai. While paying rich tribute to Mr Pillai for his sacrifice, the Foreign Secretary spoke of the increased security risks faced by Indian diplomats and conveyed that the Government was taking proactive measures to enhance the security of India’s Missions abroad. Ambassador T P Sreenivasan, a retired Indian diplomat, also addressed the gathering and recounted how Mr Pillai’s death had shocked the entire community in Kerala and how he was himself inspired by this tragedy to enter India’s diplomatic service.

High Commissioner of India to Canada, Mr Ajay Bisaria, paid homage to Mr Pillai, adding that his story had now become institutionalised with a concrete memorial in Ottawa. He said that commemorating Mr Pillai’s sacrifice after decades was not just an act of rememberance, but also one of redemption.

Ms Radha Nair, Mr Sankara Pillai and Mr K S Pillai, children of the late K S Pillai, added a poignant dimension to the event as they recounted their own memories of their illustrious father. Ms Gloria Gangte, Secretary of the IFS Association, in proposing the vote of thanks, underlined the need for current members of the Indian Foreign Service to remember the sacrifices of those that went before them.

A short video screened at the event traced the story of the first martyr of India’s diplomatic service. A Consular Hall at the High Commission of India in Ottawa has now been named ‘Pillai Memorial Hall’ in honour of the fallen diplomat. The High Commissioner also planted a tree in the premises of the Indian Mission to preserve the memory of Mr Pillai’s sacrifice.

The Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar, himself a former Indian Foreign Service officer, later tweeted “Remembering K. Sankara Pillai (IFS:1948), who died in the line of duty this day 60 years ago, serving in Ottawa. The @HCI_Ottawa has appropriately named a hall in his memory. Indian diplomats have always served selflessly. And that tradition carries ontoday”.

Please follow the links here for

  1. a) Video on the life of late K S Pillai


  1. b) Message from Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla


  1. c) Proceedings of the webinar

( on 19 April

Ottawa, 20thApril 2021