NEW DELHI: India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat was cremated with full military honours here today. General Rawat was accorded 17-gun salute as per the protocol of the Indian Armed Forces. His last rites were performed along with his wife Madhulika Rawat at the Brar Square in Delhi Cantonment area, with officers from all the three services paying their last respect in absolute silence. Daughters, Kritika and Tarini, performed the last rites of their parents who were killed in a chopper crash in Niligiris, Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also paid his last respects to General Rawat, who also served as an advisor to him, at the Brar Square crematorium.
The mortal remains of General Rawat and his wife were kept at their official residence at Kamraj Marg in New Delhi area before cremation to allow people to pay their last respects. Amid chants of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘General Rawat Amar Rahe’, the funeral procession of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat left his official residence for the last rites at the Brar Square crematorium in the Delhi Cantonment on Friday.
Military personnel from tri-services marched alongside the gun carriage as drummers played along in tribute to India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, who died in harness.
People showered petals and raised slogans in his praise as General Rawat set out for his last journey — his casket, wrapped in tri-colour (the ultimate honour for a soldier) and decorated with flowers.
General Rawat, 63, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 11 other defence personnel were killed when a Mi17V5 helicopter carrying them crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
As India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Rawat was tasked to bring in theatre command and jointness among the three services. He had been pushing these with a tough approach and specific timelines in mind in the last two years. War gaming was being conducted under his command and he had also commissioned a study to iron out discrepancies, if any.
Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and a host of other dignitaries, were among others who laid wreaths on the mortal remains of General Rawat and his wife Madhulika.
Earlier in the day, Brigadier Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, the Advisor to CDS Bipin Rawat, who died along with 12 others in the chopper crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, was cremated with full military honours at the Brar Square crematorium. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar laid wreaths on Lidder’s mortal remains, kept at Brar Square in Delhi cantonment before the cremation.
His wife, Geetika Lidder, displayed fortitude amidst the most painful tragedy of her life. She later told reporters after the cremation that she was feeling more pain than any pride, “Life is too long to spend but if this is the wish of God, we will live with it. This is not the way we wanted him back. He was a very good father and their daughter will really miss him. It is a big loss to us.”
Daughter Aashna Lidder said she holds good memories of the 17 years she spent with her father.