India’s first Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat died on 8 December 2021 in a helicopter crash. The crash occurred in the Nilgiris district, at hilly region around Coimbatore and Sulur. In accident his wife Madhulika Rawat along with 13 people died. The accident site was given name as ‘Katteri Nanchappanchatram’. According to the information, General Rawat was on his way to the Defense Services Staff College in Wellington in Coonoor, when the crash happened. IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter lost its contact and crashed around 12:20 pm.
An IAF (Indian Air Force) statement read, ‘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.’ Whereas the only person survived in crash is Group Captain Varun Singh with some injuries, and is under treatment in military hospital. India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh called it an irreplaceable loss to our armed forces and the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, ‘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.’ As per the eye witnesses, the accident spot was covered with thick fog and that accident reportedly happened due to low visibility. Gen Bipin Rawat was appointed as first CDS of the country in 2019 to better the coordination between the three forces, Army, Navy and Air.
Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Veteran) addressed the death of Gen Bipin Rawat as a great loss for our nation. He said, ‘It’s a sad loss for our nation and as a Veteran, I lost a brother-in-arms. My heartfelt condolences to all the family members and praying for the quick and complete recovery of those under hospitalization.’ He further added, ‘As the CDS he represented the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard as a single point military advisor the Government of India.’
Lt Col Manoj K Channan recalled Gen Bipin Rawat’s personality while meeting him socially and told Eat News, ‘I did not have an opportunity to serve with him on active service, but had met him socially. He was very approachable, could connect with you as a long-time friend and most of all was available for any issue related to the serving or the veterans.’ Gen Bipin Rawat during his position as a CDS took some tough and powerful decisions, from surgical strike in Pakistan to taking charge in border dispute with China. He was a fearless man with an aggressive approach towards the enemies, that helped India to have its own defense space, globally. According Lt Col Channan, ‘As a military leader, he had a mandate given to him by the government, he carried out his duty with utmost professionalism and was a patriot to the core. His seniors, colleagues and juniors appreciated his candid and blunt approach to issues. A few have differences to on his appointment as the COAS superseding his seniors. Some felt he was politicized but then individuals can have their own views.
Right after the news came out about the death of Gen Bipin Rawat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) meeting along with Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also attended the meeting wherein Prime Minister was briefed about helicopter crash, timings and the deaths. The speculations on who is going to be the next CDS of the country is getting louder. ‘The CCS has met and the government will fill in the void. Let’s wait for the government to announce the names, why create speculation during these sad times,’ said Lt Col Channan.
Gen Bipin Rawat had started serving country from 1978. During this span of time, he was honored with several medals and achievements for the nation. From UN mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo to General officer, Southern Army Commander, Chief of the Army Staff and Chief of Defense Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat never looked back and with each step, he moved forward with dignity and pride. Lt Col Channan shared his opinion and said, ‘It would be correct to state that, he had the Honour of serving in coveted command and staff appointments. He laid down his life in the saddle along with his wife Mrs. Madhulika Rawat.’
Lt Col also shared the difficulties local law enforcement faced to handle post- accident situation and said, ‘From the visuals on the TV channels as well as those on social media, it was apparent that the local law enforcement, emergency response teams were not equipped to handle this. The areas was not cordoned off and for most, it was an event they wanted to capture on camera-to what gain they perhaps themselves didn’t know.’ Death of Gen Bipin Rawat is a sad loss for the nation as India lost its brave son.
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