CDS General Bipin Rawat, wife, entourage die in chopper crash

India’s first Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed on the evening of Wednesday, December 8. He was among the 14 people who were on board, including his wife and staff members. Thirteen people have succumbed to the crash, including CDS Rawat, Madhulika Rawat and 11 others.

“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 at 6:03 pm.

“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,” the IAF added.

The sole survivor is Group Captain Varun Singh, directing staff at Defense Services Staff College (DSSC). He is being treated for his injuries at the Military Hospital in Wellington, the IAF said.

Defense minister Rajnath Singh said he was deeply anguished by the sudden demise of CDS Rawat and the 12 others. “His untimely death is an irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country,” he said.

General Rawat was India’s first CDS, assuming office on January 1, 2020. Previously, he was the Chief of Army Staff between December 31, 2016 and December 31, 2019.

The IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter was on its way from Sulur in Coimbatore to DSSC in Wellington where General Rawat, along with Chief of Army Staff M.M. Naravane was slated to participate in an event. The chopper crashed in the forest area reportedly due to poor visibility following heavy fog.

Condolences poured in for General Rawat and the other deceased. In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Modi said: “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.”

“Gen Bipin Rawat 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 has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti.”

“As India’s first CDS, Gen Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to our armed forces including defense reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service.”

President Ram Nath Kovind said with General Rawat’s death, India “has lost one of its bravest sons.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, “A very sad day for the nation as we have lost our CDS, General Bipin Rawat Ji in a very tragic accident. He was one of the bravest soldiers, who has served the motherland with utmost devotion. His exemplary contributions & commitment cannot be put into words. I am deeply pained.”

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