Delhi: Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawan and 12 others on board an Indian air force chopper died in a crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force has confirmed it through a tweet. IAF tweeted from its official twitter handle in the evening stating, “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 added: “Gp Capt Varun Singh SC, Directing Staff at DSSC with injuries is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington.”
Gen Bipin Rawat, was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today, IAF said in a statement. “Around noon today, an IAF Mi 17 V5 helicopter with a crew of 4 members carrying the CDS and 9 other passengers met with a tragic accident near Coonoor, TN,” it said.
IAF has stated that they have ordered an inquiry into the incident. Sixty-three year old Rawat in 2019 took charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff. Later, he was appointed the head of Department of Military Affairs.
Condolences poured from leaders across the country including Jharkhand too. Chief minister Hemant Soren wrote: “Extremely sad and shocked to hear about the army helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu, which was carrying Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat & his family members amongst defence staff members. My prayers for the departed souls & my thoughts are with the family members of the deceased.”
Former chief minister and BJP’s leader of opposition Babulal Marandi too extended his condolences. He said, “The entire country is in pain with the incident and passing of the major general sahed, his wife and 11 others.”