Year 2021: When India lost its first CDS and most beloved Commander Gen. Rawat
New Delhi, Dec 11: As the year 2021 was getting set to end, India witnessed an extreme tragic event in the passing away of the country's first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat.
"Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today," the IAF said in a statement.
"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," it said. General Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat were cremated with full state honours on Friday.
Describing CDS Rawat as "an outstanding soldier" and "a true patriot," the Prime Minister said he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus.
The Prime Minister also expressed his anguish at the death of others on board the helicopter including Gen Rawat's wife and defence officers.
"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," the Prime Minister said in a tweet.
"Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti," he added.
Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier L.S. Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Naik Vivek Kumar, Naik B. Sai Teja and Havaldar Satpal were travelling along with General Rawat.
Apart from them, two pilots, a Group Captain and a gunner were onboard the ill-fated chopper.
Singh, along with his wife and seven staff, boarded a flight at Delhi for the Sulur IAF base near Coimbatore at 8:47. They landed in Sulur at 11:34 am. From there, they boarded the Mi17V5 helicopter at 11:48. At 12:22 pm, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) lost contact with the chopper, which crashed in a forest area around 7 km from Coonoor.
The IAF said a Court of Inquiry has been ordered into the accident. The report is expected in one month.
As Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Rawat was overseeing the implementation of an ambitious tri-services modernisation plan to bring synergy among the armed forces and enhance their overall combat capabilities.
In General Rawat the trust factor was high. He was a very powerful figure in the defence apparatus and national security. He was the single point of advise to Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, head of the Department of Military Affairs and chair of the Defence Policy Group.
General Rawat was also an outspoken man who called a spade a spade. He took hard decisions and many times ruffled feathers. He challenged the status quo and one could define him not only as a brave soldier, but a man who thought out of the box.
A Hindustan Times report said that he was a rare general who did not play golf. He was a dog lover and his leadership and courage was acknowledged on foreign soil as well.
Prior to being appointed as the CDS, General Rawat was an Army chief, Army vice chief, Southern Army Commander, Corps Commander in the North east and division commander in Kashmir.
On being appointed as the CDS, General Rawat brought in immense experience and conviction. Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday.
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, the PM also said.
As CDS he made it clear that he would push for the integration and jointness among the Army, Indian Air Force and Navy.
A man who never believed in status quo, General Rawat spoke with conviction and when the need be would listen intently. During a seminar he even on to say that the IAF was a supporting arm in war.
He showed a lot of mettle during the Doklam standoff with China in 2017. The Indian troops have blocked China's attempt to extend its motrable track towards the Jampheri Ridge.
On being appointed as the CDS, the government said that he would push the boundaries to drive the much needed integration among the three services, which are often in different directions when it comes to planning, procurement, operations, doctrines and logistics.