Defence & Diplomacy…
General Bipin Laxman Singh Rawat (March 16, 1958 – December 8, 2021), the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Indian Armed Forces, perished in a helicopter crash in the southern Indian Province of Tamil Nadu on December 8, 2021. A total of 14 people, including General Rawat, his wife Madhulika, two Indian Air Force pilots and some top officials of the Indian Armed Forces, were on board the Mi-17V5 helicopter. The helicopter took off from Sulur Air Force Station at around 11:50am (local time) on that fateful day, and crashed somewhere within the next 30 minutes, falling into a jungle close to a tribal settlement near Kattery, around 7km from Coonoor and 10km from the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, where General Rawat was scheduled to attend an event. Media reports suggest that bad weather might be a major cause of the accident.
After the passing away of General Rawat, as well as the others, under so tragic circumstances, a number of countries, including India’s friends and foes (read the sworn friends of India), expressed sorrow, with condolences pouring in for the just deceased General from different parts of the Globe.
If we have a look at the messages of condolence sent by different States, Government officials and Statesmen…
“General Rawat was a strong friend and partner of the United States, overseeing a major expansion of India’s defence cooperation with the US military. In September, he spent five days, travelling throughout the US, as part of a counterpart visit with General Mark Milley to discuss military developments and opportunities to enhance our cooperation with like-minded countries. His legacy will continue on.” – the US Embassy In New Delhi.
“My deep condolences on the deaths of Indian Chief of Defence Staff General Rawat, his wife and colleagues who perished in today’s tragic accident. We’ll remember General Rawat as an exceptional leader who served his country and contributed to the US-India defence relationship.” – Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State.
“India has lost its great patriot and dedicated hero. Russia has lost a very close friend, who played a big role in the promotion of our special bilateral and privileged strategic partnership. Grieving together with India. Goodbye, friend! Farewell, commander!” – Nikolay Kudashev, the Russian Envoy to India.
“Deep condolenses on the sad demise of CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and other victims in the helicopter crash accident. My sympathy goes to all the family members of General Bipin Rawat.” – Sun Weidong, the Chinese Ambassador to India.
“I was deeply saddened to learn about the deadly helicopter crash that killed India’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others in Tamil Nadu. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. May they rest in peace.” – Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister of Israel.
“Tragic news. General Rawat was a wise man, a brave soldier, a pioneer and a generous host to me only weeks ago. We mourn his death and that of his wife, and all killed in this terrible accident.” – Alex W Ellis, the British High Commissioner in India.
“Don’t celebrate the deaths of your enemies as someday friends would also die. Sir, please accept my heartfelt condolences.” – Major (Retired) Adil Raja, a former Major of the Pakistani Army, and a former Indian War veteran.
“Our deepest sympathies to the families of CDS General Bipin Rawat, Madhulika Rawat & others on the helicopter. The Australia-India #defence relationships have thrived during General Rawat’s tenure. #RIP #bipinrawat.” – Barry O’ Farrell, the Australian High Commissioner in India.
“We will remember CDS Rawat as a great military leader and a supporter of France-India defence ties.” – Emmanuel Lenain, the French Ambassador in India.
“Saddened to hear of the tragic passing of India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. I had the honour of meeting him in 2019, a true soldier who put service to his Nation above all else.” – Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
“Heartaching to learn of helicopter crash in India, claiming 13 precious lives, including the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and wife. People of Bhutan and I offer prayers for India and the bereaved families. May you find strength to see through the tragedy.” – Lotay Tshering, the Prime Minister of Bhutan.
In their latest topical, Amul, the Indian diary brand, in its known style, has sketched the Surgical Strike veteran in his Army attire, with lines in Hindi. “Har sainak ke yaar thhe woh, Dushman ke liye talwar thhe woh (friend to each and every soldier, and a sword of defence to the enemy was he)”. The text is accompanying the black-and-white cartoon read for one of the most celebrated soldiers of his time…
R I P… the Brave!
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May all the departed soul rest in peace