Chief of defence staff Gen Bipin Rawat dies in IAF chopper crash in Tamil Nadu
Chief of defence staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat on Wednesday died after an Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper he was on board crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district. His wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others were also killed in the mishap, the Indian Air Force (IAF) said.
In a series of tweets, the IAF said Group Captain Varun Singh SC, directing staff at DSSC, is currently undergoing treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington.
The IAF further said besides the CDS, there were 13 passengers, including crew members, on the helicopter met with the accident near Coonoor. Gen Rawat was on a visit to the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course later in the day.
Expressing his grief, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.”
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said, “General Rawat had served the country with exceptional courage and diligence. As the first Chief of Defence Staff he had prepared plans for jointness of our Armed Forces.”
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The mortal remains of Rawat, his wife and other armed forces personnel are likely to reach Delhi by Thursday evening.
Reports said Singh will to brief Parliament on the crash on Thursday. He has already spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi before paying a visit to Rawat’s residence in Delhi.
According to passenger details, besides Rawat and his wife, Brigadier LS Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kr, L/Naik Vivek Kumar, L/Naik B Sai Teja and Hav Satpal were travelling in the Mi-17VH choppper.
Rawat had taken over as India’s first chief of defence staff (CDS) on December 31, 2019, after serving as the army chief for a full three-year term.
He survived a Cheetah crash in Dimapur on February 3, 2015. He was then a lieutenant general.