General Bipin Rawat, India's first Chief of Defence Staff and who had a vast experience across a wide spectrum of conflict and terrain profiles, was among the 13 people killed on Wednesday when the military helicopter they were travelling in crashed in a hilly area in apparently foggy conditions near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.
Besides General Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other personnel of the Armed Forces were on board Mi-17V5 helicopter when it crashed. The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, Directing Staff at DSSC, is currently under treatment at a military hospital in nearby Wellington.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday announced that a tri-service inquiry had been ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF). The inquiry, he said, would be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Singh expressed profound grief over the demise of Rawat. “With profound grief and a heavy heart, I stand to convey the unfortunate news of the crash of the military helicopter in the noon of 8th December 2021, with India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat onboard,” he said.