New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday expressed deep grief over the demise of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife and other military personnel, who were killed in a chopper crash in the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu.
Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief J.P. Nadda also expressed condolences over the sudden demise of CDS Rawat and 12 other onboard the ill-fated chopper.
In a series of tweets, President Kovind said, “I am shocked and anguished over the untimely demise of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika ji. 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. My condolences to his family.”
“It’s deeply painful for me to learn of the loss of lives in the chopper crash. I join the fellow citizens in paying tributes to each of those who died while performing their duty. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” the President said in another tweet.
Expressing his grief, Prime Minister Modi said in a series of tweets, “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.”
“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,” the Prime Minister added.
Modi also pointed out that India will never forget General Rawat’s exceptional service.
The UAE has also offered its condolences for the families of those killed in a chopper crash.
“As India’s first CDS, Gen Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to our armed forces, including defence reforms. He brought with him the rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service,” Modi said.
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Sharing his grief, Amit Shah said, “A very sad day for the nation as we have lost our CDS, General Bipin Rawat Ji, in a very tragic accident. He was one of the bravest soldiers, who served the motherland with utmost devotion. His exemplary contributions and commitment cannot be put into words. I am deeply pained.”
“I also express my deepest condolences on the sad demise of Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other Armed Forces personnel. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May God give them the strength to bear this tragic loss. Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh,” the Home Minister said.
Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that General Bipin Rawat was a visionary who initiated far-reaching reforms in the military’s higher defence organisation.
Naravane and all ranks of the force expressed their deepest grief and sorrow over the untimely demise of General Rawat, his wife and other military personnel.
General Rawat was instrumental in laying the foundation for India’s joint theatre commands and giving impetus to the increased indigenisation of military equipment, a legacy which will be carried on and strengthened by successive generations, the Army said in a statement.
Expressing his condolences to the bereaved families, Nadda tweeted, “Deeply pained by the sudden demise of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife & 11 other Armed Forces personnel in an unfortunate helicopter accident today in Tamil Nadu. Huge loss to the nation. I salute Gen Rawat for his outstanding services. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.”
Congress leaders condole Rawat’s death
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and several other Opposition leaders condoled the demise of General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others who died in a helicopter crash.
Kharge expressed his condolences and said, “Deeply shocked over the tragic demise of General Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other people deceased in the tragic helicopter crash. I express my deepest condolences and pray the family finds strength in dealing with this terrible loss. All Indians share their grief.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also extend his condolences to the family of General Bipin Rawat and his wife and termed the incident an “unprecedented tragedy”.
“I extend my condolences to the family of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife. This is an unprecedented tragedy and our thoughts are with their family in this difficult time. Heartfelt condolences also to all others who lost their lives. India stands united in this grief,” the Congress leader tweeted.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also mourned the demise of CDS Rawat and termed his death “tragic”.
“Extremely tragic. God bless their soul,” Kejriwal tweeted.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor mourned the demise of General Rawat and said that the crash must be investigated.
Meanwhile, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi appealed to the party workers not to celebrate her birthday on Thursday following the death of Rawat, informed party sources.
According to the sources, the preparations were on to celebrate the birthday in the Congress headquarters. The preparations for the programme are stopped after Sonia’s appeal.
Bollywood mourns Rawat
Members of the Bollywood fraternity also took to their social media to express grief over the passing away of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff.
Kangana Ranaut posted a picture of the late soldier and wrote, “Most horrible news of the year the demise of Sh. #BipinRawat and his wife in a tragic helicopter crash. The nation will always be grateful to Gen. Rawat for his service to the nation. Om Shanti.. Jai Hind..”
Anupam Kher tweeted a series of pictures with General Rawat and wrote, “cds #genbipinrawat, unki dharmapatni evam 11 aur faujee officers ke nidhan ka sunkar atyant dukh hua.#generalrawat se milne ka saubhaagye kayi baar mila. Unke vyaktitv mein gazab ka dussaahas aur desh ke prati athaah prem tha. Unse haath milaakar dil aur zubaan se khudabakhud ‘jay hind’ nikalata tha! #jaihind”
(“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of CDS #GenBipinRawat , his wife and 11 more military officers. Had the good fortune of meeting #GeneralRawat many times. He had amazing audacity and unfathomable love for the country. Shaking hands with him, ‘Jai Hind’ would come out naturally from the heart and tongue! #JaiHind.”)
Yami Gautam took to her Instagram story and shared a throwback picture featuring herself with the team of her patriotic movie ‘URI: The Surgical Strike’ posing with General Rawat. Sharing the snap, she wrote, “This is a memory from Army Day- January 15th 2019... an unforgettable day for us.. As an Indian, still trying to process this heartbreaking news. As a nation we mourn together.”
Anil Kapoor’s tribute
Veteran actor Anil Kapoor also shared a throwback picture of himself posing with General Rawat and wrote, “A shocking and devasting loss. Sending our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families. I am honoured to have met Gen Bipin Rawat. Om Sadgati,” adding a folded hands emoticon on his IG story.
Sonu Sood tweeted a black and white picture featuring General Rawat with his wife Madhulika Rawat and wrote, “You will live forever sir.”
Other celebrities including Vivek Oberoi, Tamannaah Bhatia, Lara Dutta, and Ravi Kishan among others also mourned the demise of CDS General Bipin Rawat, on their social media handles.
The sad news was confirmed by Indian Air Force today through their official Twitter handle that 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.”
The helicopter crashed around noon shortly after it took off from the Air Force base in Sulur, Coimbatore, for Wellington in the Nilgiri Hills. The General was heading to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today.
The Indian Air Force has issued a list of names of General Rawat’s staff who were on-board the crashed chopper. These include Brigadier LS Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kumar, L/NK Vivek Kumar, L/NK B Sai Teja and Hav Satpal are among those on board the aircraft.
The IAF has ordered an inquiry into the accident.