Gen Bipin Rawat, the Indian Chief of Defence Staff, died in a helicopter crash that took place in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, along with his wife and eleven others who were travelling in the chopper.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed the deaths and said it was a “tragic accident” in a Twitter post. An investigation into the cause of the accident has been launched.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin immediately made a visit to Coonoor from Chennai and made inquiries regarding the incident with the army and police.
முப்படைகளின் தலைமைத் தளபதி சென்ற ஹெலிகாப்டர் விபத்தில் சிக்கிய செய்தி அறிந்ததுமே குன்னூருக்கு விரைந்து; இராணுவ அதிகாரிகளுடன் ஆலோசனை மேற்கொண்டு மாநில அரசின் சார்பில் அனைத்து உதவிகளையும் வழங்கிட உறுதியளித்துள்ளேன்.
நாட்டுப் பணியில் துஞ்சிய வீரமகனுக்கு எனது வணக்கமும் அஞ்சலியும்! pic.twitter.com/zIC1qIGqby
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) December 8, 2021
The Mi-17V5 chopper crashed at a location that was ten kilometres away from the helipad where it was supposed to land.
One soldier, Captain Varun Singh, survived the accident and is currently receiving treatment at a military hospital.
Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/YOuQvFT7Et
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 8, 2021
Condolences to Gen Rawat began to pour in as soon as his passing was confirmed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Rawat was an “outstanding soldier” in a tweet.
Pakistan Army Chief of Staff Qamer Javed Bajwa also expressed his condolences on the death of his Indian counterpart.
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) December 8, 2021
Representatives to India from Russia, Singapore and Japan also conveyed their grief through official means.
Gen Rawat was the first Chief of Defence Staff in India, a position which was created in 2019 that unified the leadership of the army, navy and the airforce.
He was considered to be a close confidant of PM Modi and was in control of major operations in Indian-administered Kashmir whose provisions for autonomy was struck down in 2019.