General Bipin Rawat, wife laid to rest with full military honours
General Bipin Rawat was laid to rest on Friday with full military honours at the Brar Square crematorium in Delhi cantonment.
Gen. Rawat, former army chief and India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, his wife Madhulika and 11 defence forces personnel died in an Indian Air Force chopper crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
In keeping with protocol, Gen. Rawat was accorded a 17-gun salute at his funeral where 800 service personnel were in attendance. His daughters Kritika and Tarini performed Gen. Rawat and Madhulika’s last rites.
Earlier in the day, the mortal remains of Gen. Rawat and his wife had been kept at their 3 Kamraj Marg residence before cremation to allow people to pay their respects.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh, Union home minister Amit Shah, national security adviser Ajit Doval and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were among several dignitaries who laid wreaths and paid respect to Gen. Rawat and Madhulika there in the morning.
The mortal remains of Gen. Rawat were carried in a casket wrapped in the Tricolour to the Brar Square crematorium. Along the way, people showered petals on the gun carriage, decorated with flowers, and raised slogans in his praise. Petals were showered and slogans raised at the crematorium too.
Gen. Rawat’s daughters performed the traditional rituals.
Brigadier Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Gen. Rawat’s defence adviser who was among those killed, was also laid to rest with full military honours on Friday.
Rajnath, the three service chiefs of the army, navy and the air force — General M.M. Naravane, Admiral R. Hari Kumar and Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari — paid tributes to the brigadier at Brar Square. His wife and daughter also paid their last respects.
On Thursday evening an IAF aircraft had brought the bodies of the 13 victims from Sulur near Coimbatore to the Palam airbase in Delhi. A shradhanjali was held. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country’s top military brass paid homage to the dead.
Defence ministry sources said “positive identification” of only three of the charred bodies — of Gen. Rawat, Madhulika and Brig. Lidder — had been possible till now. The rest of the bodies have been kept at the mortuary of the Army Base Hospital in Delhi as the identification process continues.
The military commanders of Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh also attended the last rites of Gen. Rawat.
The IAF has so far not commented on the cause of the crash but sources have suggested that fog or a mechanic snag could be the likeliest reason. A tri-service inquiry into the crash has been ordered and it is headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Training Command.
“The IAF has constituted a tri-service Court of Inquiry to investigate the cause of the tragic helicopter accident on 08 Dec 21. The inquiry would be completed expeditiously & facts brought out. Till then, to respect the dignity of the deceased, uninformed speculation may be avoided,” the IAF said in a tweet on Friday.
IAF has constituted a tri-service Court of Inquiry to investigate the cause of the tragic helicopter accident on 08 Dec 21. The inquiry would be completed expeditiously & facts brought out. Till then, to respect the dignity of the deceased, uninformed speculation may be avoided.— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 10, 2021
Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the crash, is fighting for his life at a military hospital in Bangalore. He has suffered severe burn injuries.