NEW DELHI: India’s first ever chief of defence staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat, a former Army chief of India on Wednesday died in a tragic chopper crash after an Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi17V5 helicopter ferrying him went up in flames in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor in Nilgiris, leaving behind a trail of an impressive career during which he saw several counter-insurgency operations.
His wife Madhulika was on board the chopper that left from Delhi early at 9 am for Tamil Nadu’s Sulur.
“Gen Bipin Rawat was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the staff course today. 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. With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Get Rawat his wife Madhulika and 11 other persons on board have died,” a statement by Indian Air Force (IAF) said.
The aircraft also had Brig L S Lidder, DA to CDS, Lt Col Harjinder Singh, staff officer to CDS and four PSOs N K Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja and Hav Satpal.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh expressed condolences on social media, saying “My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this accident. Deeply anguished by the sudden demise of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other Armed forces personnel in an extremely unfortunate helicopter accident today in Tamil Nadu. His untimely death is an irreparable loss to our armed forces and the country.”
As nation mourned the loss of Gen Rawat, PM Narendra Modi remarked ,”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 also said that Gen Rawat’s demise has saddened him deeply.
“He was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernizing our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional His passing away saddened me deeply,” PM said.
An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021
Police sources told The New Indian that some travellers had suffered serious injuries and were taken to Wellington cantonment in Nilgiris district.