Saturday, December 10, 2022

Defence Chief Gen. Rawat, wife, 11 other die in helicopter crash

Rawat among the 13 dead

Rawat’s wife Madhulika dies in the crash

A military chopper carrying General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, and 13 others crashed between Coimbattore and Sulur in Tamil Nadu  soon after take-off, according to Indian Air Force. Thirteen of the fourteen persons are believed to have been dead. One male person is being treated. Rawat and his wife Madhulika were among the dead. Tamil Nadu Forest Minister Ramachandran had reached the spot. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh have been in touch with the defence personnel on ground.  According to reliable sources 13 of the 14 person traveling by the copter were killed in the crash. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the accident.

site of the copter crash in Tamil Nadu

Bipin Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat, his defence assistant, security commandos and Air Force personnel were among the 14 on board of the copter. Gen. Rawat flew to Sulur this morning from Delhi. The Sulur Air Force base in Coimbatore is used by Defence Staff Services College in Wellington. The villagers at the crash site  informed the district administration who in turn spoke to Air Force personnel. The crash was reported at 12.20 pm on Wednesday. The villagers pulled out the charred bodies from the debris. The copter was heading to Wellington in Udhagamandalam, Ooty, where the Defence Services College is located.

“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 Indian Air Force had tweeted. Group Captain Varun Singh is being treated at the military hospital at Wellington.

Gen. Bipin Rawat and Dr. Madhulika Rawat

63 year old Gen. Rawat took charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff in January 2019. The position was created specially with an idea of integrating three defence services. He is also the head of newly created Department of Military Affairs. Mi-17, of Russian make, is double engine aircraft, is a very safe chopper used by the VVIPs.

Gen. Rawat is the sole advisor to the government on matters pertaining to defence. He was appointed as 27th Chief of the Army Staff in 2016 superseding two officers who were seniors to him. He was made Chief of Defence Staff in 2019. For his sake the government had amended Army rules and regulations and enhanced the retirement age from 62 to 65 years. The military operations against Myamnar based militants in Northeast. He also planned surgical strike against Pakistan. He is credited to be an expert in counterinsurgency operations. He received Param Vishishta Seva Medal and all other honours. He studied in Shimla. He was commissioned in the Army in 1978. He was trained in Indian Defence Academy, Dehradun. He also went to the US for military training.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish at the untimely death of the CDS Gen. Rawat. President Ram Nath Kovind also expressed his sorrow. Home Minister Amit Shah and Foreign Minister Jaishankar were among the union minister who paid tribute to the veteran general. Born at Pauri in Uttarakhand on 16 March 1958, Rawat studied in Dehradun. He was awarded ‘Sword of Honour.’ Rawats were survived by two daughters.

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