North India Kaleidoscope joins the nation in mourning the tragic demise of Chief of Defence Services Gen.Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other personnel of the Armed Forces in the unfortunate helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
We also pray for the lone survivor Group Captain Varun Singh who is battling for his life at the Military Hospital in Wellington.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a series of tweets, 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 defence reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service.”
Chief of Army Staff Gen M.M. Naravane and all ranks of the Indian Army expressed their deepest grief and sorrow over the untimely demise of Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, his wife Madhulika Rawat, President DWWA and 11 other military personnel.
“General Bipin Rawat, India’s first CDS, was a visionary who initiated far-reaching reforms in the Indian military’s higher defence organisation. He was instrumental in creating the foundation of India’s joint theatre commands and giving impetus to the increased indigenisation of military equipment, a legacy that will be carried on and strengthened by successive generations.
Mrs Madhulika Rawat, also the former President AWWA was an epitome of grace whose presence will be missed by everyone.
The deceased 11 military personnel accompanying the CDS and President DWWA on the way to Wellington will also be equally missed by everyone. They performed their duties as per the best traditions of the Armed Forces,” he added.
Besides Gen Rawat and his wife, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other Armed Forces personnel, including the Air Force helicopter crew, were killed in the crash. The others have been identified as Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, and Lance Naik B Sai Teja.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that Gen Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, to interact with the Student Officers. “The Air Force Mi 17 V 5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 AM yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 PM. Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 PM. Subsequently, a few locals spotted a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the spot where they observed the wreckage of a military helicopter engulfed in flames. Rescue teams from the local administration in the vicinity reached the site and attempted to recover the survivors from the crash site.”
Mr Rajnath Singh said that all efforts were to save Group Captain Singh, who is on life support at the military hospital in Wellington. He further said that a tri-services inquiry headed by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh has been ordered by the Indian Air Force. A team of investigators had reached Wellington yesterday itself and started their work.