The mortal remains of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and 12 others will be brought to Delhi via IAF plane by Thursday evening and the last rites will be performed with full military honours, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. While addressing the Lok Sabha on the chopper crash in Tamil Nadu, the Defence Minister said, “The last rites of CDS General Bipin Rawat will be performed with full military honours. The last rites of other military personnel will be performed with appropriate military honour.”
Informing about the timeline of the fatal crash, the Defence Minister said that the IAF chopper lost contact with the Sulur base control room at around 12.08 pm after it took off at 11.48 am. “CDS General Bipin Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course. IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter took off from Sulur airbase at 11.48 am. The helicopter was to land at Wellington at 12.15 pm. At around 12.08 pm, the helicopter lost contact with Sulur airbase’s air traffic control room,” the Defence Minister noted.
He further said Indian Air Force (IAF) has ordered a tri-service inquiry into the accident and the investigation will be led by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh. Air Marshal Manvendra Singh is Commander of Indian Air Force. “The inquiry team reached Wellington yesterday itself and started the investigation,” the minister said.
A total of 14 people were on-board the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter that crashed near Coonoor on Wednesday claiming the lives of 13 people including General Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat.
“Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in Military Hospital, Wellington. All efforts are being made to save his life,” said Rajnath.
Those who died in the crash include General Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brigadier Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh and nine other Armed Forces personnel including the Air Force helicopter crew. “Their names are Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja,” Rajnath informed.
Soon after the news of the chopper crash on Wednesday, the minister visited General Rawat’s residence in the national capital.
General Rawat was appointed as India’s first Chief of Defense Staff on December 31, 2019. He previously served as Chief of the Army Staff from January 2017 to December 2019. He was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978. A veteran of counterinsurgency warfare, CDS Rawat served in the most difficult terrains including Northern and Eastern commands.