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CDS Bipin Rawat death: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in Parliament about the tragic helicopter crash

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Dec 09, 2021
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The Defence Minister informed the Lok Sabha that the Indian Air Force has appointed a tri-service inquiry

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday informed Parliament about the circumstances surrounding the tragic demise of India’s top military officer, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other members of the CDS staff and crew in a helicopter crash at Connoor, Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

The Defence Minister informed the Lok Sabha that the Indian Air Force has appointed a tri-service inquiry under Air Marshal Manvendra Singh to probe the crash of Mi-17V5 that happened in a jungle in Coonoor. He said the bodies of the deceased would be brought to Delhi tonight.

General Rawat would be cremated with full military honours and other officers would be cremated with appropriate military honours. Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the crash, is on life support at the Wellington Military Hospital and all efforts to save him are being made, said the Defence Minister.

Also read: IAF copter crash that killed General Bipin Rawat: Black box retrieved

“I have come to inform the House of the tragic demise of General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other members of the convoy including officers and the crew. General Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington where he had an interaction with the students. His helicopter Mi-17V5 took off from the Sulur air base at 11.48 am,” the Defence Minister told the House.

The Minister further said, “It was supposed to land at Wellingon at 12.15 pm. The Sulur air base traffic control lost contact with the helicopter at 12.08 pm. Shortly afterwards, near Coonoor in the jungles, some locals saw fire erupting from a specific spot. They informed the local administration which rushed there and rescued the bodies from the flames.”

Family and friends mourn

The tragic Mi-17 V5 chopper crash also took the lives of Brigadier LS Lidder, Lt Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, B Sai Teja, Havildar Satpal Rai, JWO Rana Pratap Das, JWO Pradeep A and Wing Commander PK Singh. Their families and friends remembered how these men were cheerful and handled their posts with dignity wherever they went.

Also read: CDS Bipin Rawat death: His home state Uttarakhand declares three-day mourning

For instance, Brigadier LS Lidder was a celebrated officer who hailed from Panchkula in Haryana and was serving as the Defence Adviser to CDS Rawat. He had served as India’s defence attaché to Kazakhstan and was a counterterrorism specialist.

A second generation military personnel, Brig Lidder was a “a decorated soldier, caring husband & doting father,” tweeted Member of Parliament, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who had trained with Lidder together at NDA and also fought terrorists together in Jammu & Kashmir.

Similarly, Lt Col Harjinder Singh belonged to the 11 Gorkha Rifles – the same regiment as Rawat. Hailing from Lucknow, he had been serving as SO to the CDS and involved in many key operations such as the Siachen Glacier and also in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission.

Apart from them, there were a few young soldiers also in the mishap that took place, like Naik Gursewak Singh, a native of Dode village, who was serving as a Principal Staff Officer to the CDS for the past three years. He belonged to the 9 Para Special Forces and survived by his wife and two daughters.

Another was Lance Naik B Sai Teja, a 27-year-old security personnel, who also served as PSO to the CDS. He belonged to Eguva Regada village of Kurabalakota mandal in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh.

Also read: All you need to know about General Bipin Rawat

In the Parliament also on Thursday, the members mourned the demise of these brave soldiers and also wished for quick recovery of the lone survivor of the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh.

“We wish for a quick recovery of Group Captain Varun Singh who was severely injured in the accident…we pray for all the bereaved families to go through these painful times,” Om Birla, Speaker at Lok Sabha said while beginning the session for the day.

Parliament paid homage to India’s top military officer, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others who died in a chopper crash in Coonoor on Wednesday.

Timeline of events of the tragedy

  • The Mi-17V5 carrying 14 passengers took off from Sulur air base for Wellington at 11.48 am.
  • It was supposed to land at Wellingon at 12.15 pm.
  • The Sulur air base traffic control lost contact with the helicopter at 12.08 pm.
  • Shortly afterwards, near Coonoor in the jungles, some locals saw fire erupting from a specific spot.
  • The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support at Wellington Military hospital.
  • Defence Minister said the mortal remains General Rawat, his wife, the staff and the crew would be flown by the IAF to Delhi for cremation with full military honours.
Published on December 09, 2021

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