Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat killed in IAF helicopter crash near Coonoor

General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board died in the accident, said the Indian Air Force.
Late Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat
Late Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat
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Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat was killed after the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter that he was travelling in crashed near Coonoor in The Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu at around 12:20 pm on Wednesday, December 8. The IAF confirmed his death. “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,” IAF tweeted at 6.03 pm on Wednesday.

Rawat, 63, a four-star general in the Indian Army, was appointed as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff in 2019. He had previously served as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.

“My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this accident. Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh, who  is currently under treatment at the Military Hospital, Wellington,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.

Earlier a statement from the IAF stated, “IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.”

There were 14 people on board the MI series helicopter, including Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika, who also was killed in the crash. The others onboard included personal security officers and two other staff of the CDS. Thirteen people were killed in the crash, while GP Captain Varun Singh is receiving treatment.

"Gp Capt Varun Singh SC, Directing Staff at DSSC with injuries is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington," the IAF added in a tweet.

CDS Bipin Rawat was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) at Wellington Cantonment at 2.45 pm on Wednesday. The chopper was on its way from the Sulur IAF base to DSSC when it crashed, officials said. The mishap happened near Kattery Park, about 16 km from Coonoor and 10 km from the helipad in the Nanjappanchathiram area. The site of the accident was on a Ghat road between Mettupalayam and Coonoor. Early visuals showed the helicopter in flames.

Born in Pauri, Uttarakhand, General Rawat had attended the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. He later graduated from DSSC, Wellington. He had been in service since 1978.

In 2019, the Union cabinet approved the post of Chief of Defence Staff, at the rank of four-star general. According to reports, the CDS would be the single-point advisor to the government on military matters.

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