The funeral of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, was held at Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment on Friday, NDTV reported. Rawat was cremated with full military honours.
Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat were among 13 people killed in the crash. The helicopter, which took off from Sulur air base in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday afternoon, was on its way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, nearly three kilometres north of Coonoor, where it crashed.
Air Force Group Captain Varun Singh is the sole survivor among the 14 people on board the helicopter. Singh is being treated in Bengaluru.
Rawat’s defence assistant, security commandos and Indian Air Force personnel were among those on board.
On Friday, the chief of defence staff’s and his wife’s last rites were performed by their two daughters. Rawat was accorded a 17-gun salute as per the protocol.
The funeral arrangements involved the participation of 800 service personnel, reported NDTV.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Uttarakhand counterpart Pushkar Singh Dhami also paid respects to Rawat and his wife on Friday.
Kejriwal said Rawat was one of the bravest soldiers in India, ANI reported. “His sudden demise is a huge loss for the entire country,” the Delhi chief minister added. “He will forever be in our memories.”
The bodies of Rawat and 12 others killed in the air crash had been brought to the Palam air base in Delhi on Thursday, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other officials of the defence services had paid tributes to them.
The Army allowed citizens to pay their respects to Rawat at his residence between 10 am and 12.30 pm on Friday, according to ANI. The security forces personnel have been allowed to pay tributes between 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm.
Funeral of Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh Lidder, defence assistant to Rawat, was held at Delhi Cantonment on Friday. He was also cremated with full military honours at New Delhi’s Brar Square crematorium.
The military commanders of Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh were also present on Friday to pay respects at Rawat’s funeral, reported the Hindustan Times.
Chief of Defence Staff and Sri Lanka Army Commander General Shavendra Silva, Royal Bhutan Army Deputy Chief Operations Officer Brigadier Dorji Rinchen, Nepal Army Chief of General Staff Suprobal Janasewashree Lieutenant General Bal Krishna Karki and Bangladesh armed forces division Principal Staff Officer Lieutenant General Waker-UZ-Zaman attended the ceremony.
Shops in Nilgris district observe shutdown
Owners of shops in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district, where the helicopter crashed, announced that they will keep their shutters down from 6 am to 6 pm on Friday as a mark of respect to those who died on Wednesday.
Secretary of Federation of Merchants’ Associations MA Raheem told The New Indian Express: “We will close shops in honour of the services done by them for the nation.”