Terming the demise of CDS General Bipin Rawat as a “big loss”, a close friend and National Defence Academy (NDA) batchmate said the “visionary” was the right choice for the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
Speaking with ANI, Brigadier Mandeep Singh Sandhu (Retd), Ex-Army Special Forces, recalled how General Rawat was “very focused” on doing something for the nation and the Army always.
“He was the right choice as the first CDS due to his wide operational experience,” Brigadier Sandhu said. “He would always talk of how the Army needed to reorganise itself into a modern fighting force,” he added.
Remembering CDS Rawat as a very soft-spoken person who always made time to communicate with his batchmates, Brig Sandhu said, “We were very close friends; we were in the same NDA class and had also commanded Brigades in Kashmir together.”
CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other defence personnel lost their lives after the Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17V5 helicopter carrying them crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
General Rawat was on his way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course. The chopper crashed in the Nilgiris district. Sources said the chopper crashed just minutes before reaching its destination in Tamil Nadu’s Wellington.
The Air Force Mi17 V5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 AM yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 PM. Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 PM.
Those who lost their lives include the spouse of the CDS, Mrs Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and 9 other Armed Forces personnel including the Air Force helicopter crew. Their names are Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja.