The officials from Defence, district administration and villagers on Thursday paid tributes to India's first Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and 13 others from armed forces, who lost their lives in the military helicopter crash at Nanjappanchatram near Coonoor in Nilgiris district on this day last year.
Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Commandant Lt Gen Virendra Vats along with senior officials arrived at the spot and laid wreath and flowers at the site where the chopper crashed. Nilgiris district Collector S P Amrith and Superintendent of Police Ashish Rawat also paid tributes to the departed souls.
Later, speaking to reporters, Vats said he, along with other officials had come to pay homage to Rawat and 13 others who died in the crash. "We are also here to thank the villagers, without caring for their lives, managed to bring out the bodies from the accident site in a remote area," he said. When asked about the plans for a memorial at the site, Vats said that it required cooperation from all the stakeholders, administration, owners of the land and villagers.
Meanwhile, a large number of villagers arrived Nanjappanchatram and paid tributes to the great soldiers and demanded for erecting a full size statue of Rawat. Some of the villagers said that they wanted the Katteri park, near the accident site, be named after the first CDS and also set up a sanctuary of migratory birds in his name. They had submitted a memorandum to the district administration, in which they requested to construct a football ground at the site in the name of the soldiers. Rawat and 13 others, including his wife Madhulika Rawat, were on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, to address the faculty and student officers on December 8 last year.
They started from Sulur military base on the outskirts of Coimbatore in a chopper, which due to poor visibility following mist crashed into a tree, resulting in their deaths.
(With PTI inputs)