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CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, wife, 11 others dead in chopper crash, confirms IAF

"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 IAF tweeted.

December 08, 2021 / 10:47 PM IST
General Bipin Rawat was appointed as India's first Chief of Defence Staff in December 2019 (File image)

General Bipin Rawat was appointed as India's first Chief of Defence Staff in December 2019 (File image)


Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others who were onboard a military chopper which crashed near Tamil Nadu's Coonoor on December 8, have "died in the unfortunate accident", the Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed in a statement.

"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 IAF tweeted.

Rawat had boarded the Mi17 V5 helicopter as he was scheduled to visit the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers today, the IAF said.

Around noon, the chopper met with a tragic accident, the air force said. Those on board the helicopter included four crew members and nine passengers including Rawat, his wife and security officials.

The lone survivor in the accident is Group Captain Varun Singh, who is currently undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital in Wellington, the IAF noted.

Also Read | General Bipin Rawat, Gorkha Rifles officer to India's first Chief of Defence Staff

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in mourning the death of Rawat. "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," he said.

"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," Modi tweeted.

President Ram Nath Kovind also issued a statement to condole the demise. "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," he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while marking his anguish over the fatal chopper crash, 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."

The mortal remains of General Rawat and his wife, along with other armed forces personnel killed in the chopper crash, will be brought to Delhi by the evening on December 9.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the death of Rawat marks a "sad day" for the nation. "He was one of the bravest soldiers, who has served the motherland with utmost devotion. His exemplary contributions and commitment cannot be put into words. I am deeply pained," he said.

"I also express my deepest condolences on the sad demise of Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other Armed Forces personnel. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this tragic loss. Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh," Shah further tweeted.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also described Rawat's demise as a "huge loss to the nation".

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi extended his condolences to the bereaved family. "I extend my condolences to the family of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife. This is an unprecedented tragedy and our thoughts are with their family in this difficult time. Heartfelt condolences also to all others who lost their lives. India stands united in this grief. (sic)," he tweeted.

Rawat, 63, had served the country's defence sector for more than four decades. He had joined the army in 1978 as a second lieutenant. During his military career Rawat commanded the forces in the crucial area of Jammu & Kashmir and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) bordering China.

He was credited with reducing insurgency in the northeastern and supervised a cross-border counter-insurgency operation into neighbouring Myanmar.

In 2017, Rawat was elevated as the 27th Chief of the Army Staff, and following his retirement in December 2019, he was appointed as the first-ever Chief of Defence Staff to oversee the three wings of the armed forces. The charge was assumed by him on January 1, 2020.
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