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CDS General Bipin Rawat And 12 Others Died In Helicopter Crash In Tamil Nadu

Chief of Defence 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. 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 tweeted at 6:03 pm.

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

The mortal remains of chief of defence staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, Brig LS Lidder and other defence personnel killed in the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu were brought to Delhi on Thursday evening. The bodies were brought in an Indian Air Force C-130J aircraft that landed at the Palam Airbase at around 7.35pm. Rajnath Singh said that the last rites of General Rawat will be performed with full military honours.

Defence 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. The top cabinet brass expressed condolences on the death of General Rawat.

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. He belonged to Saina village of Pauri district in the Uttarakhand state.

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.

The Cabinet Committee on Security comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top four ministers in his cabinet: defence, home, finance and external affairs – convened at 6:30 pm. According to news agency PTI, the CCS was briefed about the crash. Besides Prime Minister Modi, the meeting was attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh, home minister Amit Shah, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, principal secretary to the Prime Minister P.K. Misra and cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba.

Separately, Chief of Army Staff General M.M. Naravane briefed the defence minister about the crash and related issues. The defence minister also visited General Rawat’s residence and spoke to his daughter.

On Wednesday, the Uttarakhand government declared a three-day state mourning from December 9 to 12 over the death of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash.

Describing his death as an irreparable loss to the country, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said Uttarakhand will always be proud of its son. “The country will always remember the courageous decisions taken by him for the security of the borders and the contribution made by him to keep the morale of the armed forces always high,” he mentioned.

Civilians can pay tribute to CDS Gen Bipin Rawat from 11am to 12.30pm at his Karaj Marg residence on Friday. Military personnel can pay respects between 12.30 to 13.30pm. Thereafter, the mortal remains will be taken in a gun carriage for funeral at Delhi Cantt Brar Square.

The unidentified bodies will be kept at the mortuary of Army Base Hospital in New Delhi till positive identification is done. The Army said that appropriate military funerals of all deceased are being planned and coordinated in close consultation with close family members.

The government is set to begin the process soon to appoint the next Chief of Defence Staff with Army Chief Gen MM Naravane emerging as the front-runner for the top post that fell vacant following the demise of Gen Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash.

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