Among the armed forces personnel killed in the chopper crash near Coonoor was Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh Lidder, a decorated soldier who worked extensively on tri-services reforms as the defence assistant to CDS General Bipin Rawat. A second-generation Army officer, Brig Lidder was set to be promoted as Major General soon and was preparing for his next posting after serving as a key member in Gen Rawat's team for more than a year.
Brig Lidder served extensively in counter-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir and commanded a brigade along India's borders with China. As the defence assistant to Gen Rawat, Brig Lidder played an important role in planning India's higher defence reforms under which an ambitious roadmap has been drawn to roll out tri-services theatre commands to ensure greater coordination among the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Rawat, his wife Madhulika, Brig Lidder and 10 other armed forces personnel were killed in the Mi-17V5 helicopter crash near Coonoor on Wednesday, in one of the biggest air accidents in India in decades involving senior military officers.
Brig Lidder, a recipient of the Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal, had his roots in Haryana's Panchkula and served as India's defence attache to Kazakhstan in his distinguished career.
He was commissioned into 2 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in December 1990, a battalion he later commanded.
In a Twitter post, former Union Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, who has served in the Army, described Brig Lidder as one of the "bravest officers".
"We trained together at #NDA. We fought terrorists together in #Kashmir. In the loss of Brig LS Lidder, SM, VSM today, India has lost one of its brightest & bravest officers & I have lost a friend. A decorated soldier, caring husband & doting father, you will be missed, Tony," Rathore said.
He also attended the Higher Command and National Defence College course
Brig Lidder is survived by his wife and a daughter.
In a statement in Parliament, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said a tri-services enquiry into the incident has been ordered by the Indian Air Force and it will be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Training Command.