India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat (63), his wife and 11 others were killed in a helicopter crash at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiri Hills on Wednesday afternoon.
The Indian Air Force confirming the death of Gen Rawat tweeted, “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.”
Gen Rawat, who was appointed as CDS in January 2019, was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the staff course.
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
Rawat arrived in Coimbatore from Delhi on Wednesday morning. An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter with the CDS took off from the Air Force station in Sulur in Coimbatore, and crashed at Katteri, which was about 10 km from the helipad where he was to land. TV visuals showed the chopper in flames after the crash, with local people rushing to the spot to put out the fire. The IAF said that an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
Gp Capt Varun Singh SC, Directing Staff at DSSC with injuries is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington, said a tweet by IAF. Soon after reports of the crash came in, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Defence officials. Singh subsequently briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At 6.03 pm, the IAF confirmed the passing away of Gen Rawat through its official twitter handle.
Subsequently, a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security was presided over by the Prime Minister. Besides the PM, Defence Minister, Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is monitoring the situation following crash of IAF chopper carrying CDS Bipin Rawat & others. A meeting of senior Defence Ministry officials is underway. Singh has briefed the PM about the crash: Sources
(File photo) pic.twitter.com/3XUZsfLqDP
— ANI (@ANI) December 8, 2021
Leaders offer condolences
President Ram Nath Kovind; Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and all major leaders offered their condolences on the death of Gen Rawat. The President tweeted, “The nation has lost one of its bravest sons. His four decades of selfless service to the motherland was marked by exceptional gallantry and heroism.”
Prime Minister Modi in a tweet said, General Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. As India’s first CDS, General Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to armed forces including defence reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Wednesday evening flew to Coimbatore, from where he went by road to Coonoor.