Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Bipin Rawat Chopper Crash | A Nation Mourns

The IAF helicopter which crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu was flying from Sulur Airbase to Wellington with 14 personnel including senior officials on board.

Army General Bipin Rawat PTI

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat died in an IAF aircraft crash that took place on Wednesday near Coonoor in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu, Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed on Twitter. Officials have confirmed death of 13 out of 14 passengers so far.

General Bipin Rawat's wife Madhulika Rawat also died in the helicopter crash.

 The helicopter was flying from Sulur Airbase to Wellington. 14 personnel including 3-4 senior officials, were on board. 


According to top officials in Tamil Nadu, four have been found dead.  The accident occurred happened at Nanjappanchathiram area amid heavy mist and early visuals showed the helicopter in flames.  

A team of doctors is rushing from Coimbatore to assist the military. The Indian Air Force confirmed the presence of Bipin Rawat on board the aircraft. However, no immediate information on the condition of Gen Rawat is available. 

The army chief was on his way to the Defence Staff College in Wellington. As per reports, including a tweet by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the chopper was also carrying Rawat's wife.

The IAF said that a Court of Inquiry has been ordered into the accident. The officials were travelling in an Mi-17VH chopper that took off from the Sulur IAF Station in nearby Coimbatore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ramnath Kovind, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condole demise of CDS Bipin Rawat:

Paying rich tributes to Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was an "outstanding soldier and a true patriot".

"Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus," Modi said in a tweet.

President Ramnath Kovind in his condolence message said "The nation has lost one of its bravest sons".

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed anguish over the demise of CDS Bipin Rawat and others in the crash.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed CDS Bipin Rawat's death as "unprecedented tragedy".

 Army condoles demise of CDS Bipin Rawat and others:

The Army in a statement said: "General MM Naravane and all ranks of the Indian Army express their deepest grief and sorrow over the untimely demise of General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, Mrs Madhulika Rawat, President DWWA and 11 other military personnel in an unfortunate air accident today on 08 Dec".

It added: "General Bipin Rawat, India's first CDS, was a visionary who initiated far reaching reforms in the Indian military's higher defence organisation. He was instrumental in creating the foundation of India's joint theatre commands and giving impetus to the increased indigenisation of military equipment, a legacy which will be carried on and strengthened by successive generations".

"Mrs Madhulika Rawat, also the former President AWWA was an epitome of grace whose presence will be missed by everyone," it said.

It also said: "The deceased 11 military personnel accompanying the CDS and President DWWA on the way to Wellington will also be equally missed by everyone. They performed their duties as per the best traditions of the Armed Forces".

Earlier, official sources in Delhi said all the injured people on board the helicopter have been evacuated from the spot of the accident.

Meanwhile, official sources in Coimbatore said four bodies have been retrieved and three persons rescued from under the debris of the helicopter which crashed in Katteri-Nanchappanchathram area near Coonoor in the hilly Nilgiris district.

The helicopter, carrying a few senior officials, was on its way from Sulur in Coimbatore to DSC in Wellington where Rawat, along with Chief of Army Staff MM Naravane, was slated to participate in an event later.

The chopper crashed in a forest area, reportedly due to poor visibility following heavy fog, official sources said.

Union I&B Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday said information about the helicopter accident in Coonoor in Tamil Nadu will be shared by the ministry concerned at an appropriate time.

“The entire information about the accident that has taken place will be shared by the concerned ministry at an appropriate time,” Thakur told reporters when asked about the helicopter crash involving Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat.

The Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be briefing Parliament in the accident later. According to reports, he has already informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident. The Indian Air Force chief has been asked to reach the site. A meeting of senior officials of the ministry is also underway.


(With PTI inputs)