Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat were laid side by side on the same pyre for cremation at the Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment on Friday. Their daughters Kritika and Tarini lit the pyre. CDS Rawat was cremated with full military honours including a 17-gun salute by the military.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Defence Research and Development Organisation chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy, defence attaches of various countries, Ambassador of France in India Emmanuel Lenain and British High Commissioner Alex Ellis, were among the dignitaries who were present at the crematorium to pay their last respect.
Union Ministers Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mansukh Mandaviya, Smriti Irani, Narendra Singh Tomar and Sarbananda Sonowal went to the residence of General Bipin Rawat earlier in the day to pay their last respects.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Harish Rawat, BJP chief J.P. Nadda and DMK leaders A. Raja and Kanimozhi were among those who laid a wreath on the mortal remains of CDS Rawat and his wife.
A chopper crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday claimed the lives of 13 people including CDS Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and his defence adviser Brigadier Lidder.
People from all walks of life joined the funeral procession as it proceeded towards the crematorium to pay tribute to India’s first CDS. Admirers of CDS Rawat were present along the route, with some of them carrying the national flag. They raised the slogan, “Jab tak suraj chaand rahega, Bipinji ka naam rahega”.
Other defence forces personnel who died in the chopper crash are CDS Rawat’s Staff Officer Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, 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 and Lance Naik B. Sai Teja.
Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor in the crash, has been shifted to Air Force Command hospital at Bengaluru for further treatment.
The Centre has ordered a “tri service” inquiry into the accident. The inquiry will be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis, who reached Brar Square crematorium to pay tribute to CDS Rawat, told ANI, “Gen Rawat was a great leader and soldier. It is incredibly sad. He was a pioneer as he started the joint defence approach which we follow in the UK. He led that approach in India. It is very sad for India to lose a great leader, a soldier and a thoroughly nice man.”
He said CDS Rawat invested a lot in improving defence ties between India and UK. “It is a great loss We remember him, his wife and all others who died in the crash,” Ellis said, adding that many of them were close friends of the British High Commission.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that action will be taken against those who make disrespectful comments about Bipin Rawat. Speaking to ANI, CM Bommai said, “Some persons with perverted minds have tweeted derogative, celebratory messages about the death of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Rawat. The police chief has been instructed to take legal action against these elements.”
Bommai tweeted, “Offensive tweets and social media posts about the tragic chopper crash in which we lost our #CDSGeneralBipinRawat will not be tolerated. I strongly condemn all such messages and have instructed our police officials to take strict disciplinary legal action against the offenders.”