India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, lost his life in a helicopter crash earlier today. The Indian Airforce stated: “Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today.
“Around noon today, an IAF Mi 17 V5 helicopter with a crew of four members carrying the CDS and nine other passengers met with a tragic accident near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident. Group Captain Varun Singh SC, Directing Staff at DSSC with injuries, is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington.”
The Indian Army conveyed its regret over the loss of the nation’s top military official in a statement of their own: “General MM Naravane and all ranks of the Indian Army express their deepest grief and sorrow over the untimely demise of General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, Mrs Madhulika Rawat, President DWWA and 11 other military personnel in an unfortunate air accident today on 8 December.”
The Indian Army’s statement went on to read, “General Bipin Rawat, India’s first CDS, was a visionary who initiated far-reaching reforms in the Indian military’s higher defence organisation. He was instrumental in creating the foundation of India’s joint theatre commands and giving impetus to the increased indigenisation of military equipment, a legacy which will be carried on and strengthened by successive generations,
“Mrs Madhulika Rawat, also the former President of the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA), was an epitome of grace whose presence will be missed by everyone. The deceased 11 military personnel accompanying the CDS and President DWWA on the way to Wellington will also be equally missed by everyone. They performed their duties as per the best traditions of the Armed Forces.”
The President of India, Ram Nath Kobind, who is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Defence Services, Tweeted his condolences over the death of the Indian Military’s first among equals: “I am shocked and anguished over the untimely demise of Gen. Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika ji. The nation has lost one of its bravest sons. His four decades of selfless service to the motherland was marked by exceptional gallantry and heroism. My condolences to his family,”
The President of India went on to convey his condolences over the deaths of the crew on board the helicopter, “It’s deeply painful for me to learn of the loss of lives in the chopper crash. I join the fellow citizens in paying tributes to each of those who died while performing their duty. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.”
A Great Supporter Of IA&D Magazine
Gen. Rawat was a great supporter of Indian Aerospace and Defence Magazine; he gave a comprehensive interview in the launch edition of IA&D on his vision for the increased synergy in the three services and a higher level of co-operation with reduced overlap. IA&D, along with the rest of the country, mourns his loss.
A Heroes Farewell
Gen Rawat’s mortal remains were laid in state at 3 Kamraj Marg from 1100 hours till 1330 hours to enable people to pay last homage. A dozen officers (from the tri-services of the rank of Brigadier and equivalent were on vigil duty to maintain continuous watch over the mortal remains while it was laid in state.
Half a dozen officers, two each from the Army, Navy and IAF) of the rank of Lieutenant General equivalent were Pall (National Flag) Bearers. Wreaths were laid by visiting dignitaries while the mortal remains laid in state and will also be laid at Brar Square Cremation Ground. A ceremonial battery of 2233 Field Regiment provided gun carriage.
99 all ranks from the Army, Navy and IAF and 33 members of the tri-services band formed the front escort while 99 all ranks from the three services acted as the rear escort. Around 800 service personnel attended the funeral. The late CDS was accorded a 17 gun salute, as per laid down protocols. Post the playing of the Last Post and Rouse by tri-services buglers, the funeral pyre was lit by family members.