‘Will retire together’: What CDS Gen Bipin Rawat told his PSO who wanted to quit
A resident of Takdah area in the Darjeeling Hills, Havildar Satpal Rai, the 40-year-old personal security officer of General Bipin Rawat, had spoken to his wife twice before boarding the ill-fated helicopter that crashed in Coonoor on Wednesday.
As a pall of gloom hung over Rai’s home at Katusay, where the havildar’s 80-year-old mother waited for his body, members of the family said Rai wanted to take early retirement.
“Satpal wanted to take early retirement but General Rawat did not let him leave, saying they would retire together in 2024,” said Mandira Rai, the soldier’s wife.
“He said he would call me again after reaching Wellington. It was Diwali when I saw him for the last time. When he came home he said he would retire and start a business. I have lost my husband but I am proud of him. He died for the country,” said Mandira Rai.
The soldier’s father, Bahadur Singh Rai, was also in the army. Satpal’s brother, Bickal Rai, is also serving with the 5/11 Gorkha Rifles.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote a long condolence message for the family.
“I sincerely express my deepest condolence for the unfortunate and sudden demise of Late Havildar Satpal Rai at the age of only 40 years. Rai has dedicated his life to the motherland. The demise of this brave son of the hills is an irreparable loss. We will always remember the sacrifice of Bengal’s brave son Satpal Rai. I also express my heartfelt condolence to the kin of all other defence personnel who died in that tragic accident yesterday,” Banerjee said.
S Poonambalam, district magistrate of Darjeeling, said “Rai’s mortal remains are expected to arrive at Bagdogra Airport on Friday afternoon.”
Gautam Deb, a senior Trinamool Congress leader and former minister, met Rai’s family on Thursday afternoon.
Raju Bista, the Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha member from Darjeeling, offered his condolences.