IAF Helicopter Crash : India’s First CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, His Spouse Among 11 Others Passed Away

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In a heart-wrenching and tragic incident, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, along with 11 others have passed away today due to the unfortunate IAF’s Mi-17V5 helicopter crash in Nilgiri Hills, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.

However, Gp Capt Varun Singh, Directing Staff at Defence Services Staff College (DSCC) with severe injuries is currently undergoing treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington.

Taking to Twitter, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has confirmed the news. “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.”

However, the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh through his Twitter handle has confirmed the news. “Deeply anguished by the sudden demise of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other Armed Forces personnel in an extremely unfortunate helicopter accident today in Tamil Nadu. His untimely death is an irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country.”

Expressing his exceptional courage and diligence, Singh asserted how CDS Gen Bipin Rawat prepared plans to integrate the Armed Forces. “General Rawat had served the country with exceptional courage and diligence. As the first Chief of Defence Staff he had prepared plans for jointness of our Armed Forces.”

Singh further prayed for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh, who is currently undergoing treatment. “My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this accident. Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh, who is currently under treatment at the Military Hospital, Wellington.”

An alumnus of St Edward School, Shimla, and the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, the CDS was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun, where he was conferred with the ‘Sword of Honour’.

With experiences in high altitude warfare, and counter-insurgency operations, CDS Gen Bipin Rawat commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern Sector; a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the Eastern theatre and the Southern Command.

He also tenanted instructional appointments at IMA Dehradun and at Army War College, Mhow.

During the span of over 40 years of his service, Rawat was awarded for gallantry and distinguished service with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal, and Sena Medal.

On December 17, 2016, Rawat took over the reins of the Indian Army from General Dalbir Singh Suhag, as the 27th Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Later, on December 31, 2019, he went on to become India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). This position was set-up with an aim to integrate the three defence services – The Army, The Navy & The Air Force. Known for theaterization of the Indian Armed Forces, Rawat was tasked with taking the 17 single-service commands & combining them into just four geographical commands, each with elements from all three services.

As per Rawat’s plan, the theaterization model sought to set up four new integrated commands – two land-centric theatres, an air defence command, and a maritime theatre command for best utilization of military’s resources for future wars and operations.

He also introduced modernization of the troops of the Armed Forces, by bringing-in a new approach of procuring major military platforms.

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