In a shocking and devastating accident, India's defence chief General Bipin Rawat's chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. The visuals of the crash site floating around on social media painted a grim picture as the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter was beyond recognition. Even as reports of many casualties emerged, the nation was hoping against hope for the welfare of those onboard the crashed chopper. But as it is now confirmed, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat died in the tragic accident.
The Indian Air Force confirmed the tragic news. The official statement also added that Gp Capt Varun Singh SC, Directing Staff at DSSC who sustained injuries in the crash is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington.
"Around noon today, an IAF Mi 17 V5 helicopter with a crew of 4 members carrying the CDS and 9 other passengers met with a tragic accident near Coonoor, TN. 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," the statement read.
The Indian Army shared an official statement on CDS Gen Bipin Rawat's demise, expressing deep grief and sorrow.
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 08 Dec.
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 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."
CDS Rawat was travelling to Wellington Staff College for a lecture when the incident took place. He was accompanied by his wife, Madhulika Rawat, and 12 other staff members. The Indian Air Force confirmed the crash and that CDS Rawat was onboard the aircraft.
As the tragedy unfolded, people became restless. With the news of CDS Gen Rawat's death, the entire nation is mourning the tragic loss.
Who was Gen Bipin Rawat?
General Bipin Rawat belongs to a generation of family members serving in the Army. He was a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and Higher Command Course at the US Army Command and General Staff College in Kansas.
Rawat was commissioned into the 5th battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles in 1978 and he rose in ranks since. His had great experience in high-altitude warfare and conducted counter-insurgency operations for ten years.
During the span of his 40-year career, CDS Rawat was awarded for gallantry and distinguished service with various medals of honour, including Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal, Sena Medal, and Vishisht Seva Medal.
Nation mourns loss of India's first CDS
President Ram Nath Kovind mourned the loss of Gen Bipin Rawat in the tragic accident. He expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased.
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. 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,"
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. He shared a photo with Gen Rawat, remembering his heroism.
"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," PM Modi tweeted.
Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti," PM Modi further wrote.
"As India's first CDS, Gen Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to our armed forces including defence reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service," PM Modi tweeted.
Other leaders and ministers, including Defense minister and others expressed their condolences.
IAF chopper crash
The IAF Mi-17V5 carrying the senior defense officials crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. A probe has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
Visuals from the site of the crash showed locals, police officers and army personnel clearing the debris and conducting search and rescue operation. In 2019, General Rawat was appointed as the first CDS of India, promoting him from post of Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.