Nine people including CDS Bipin Rawat and his wife left Delhi at around 9 am on Wednesday by a special aircraft and reached Air Force Station Sulur at around 11.35 am. After about 10 minutes, at 11:45 am, 9 people from Delhi and five crew members i.e., a total of 14 people left for Wellington Army Camp by helicopter from Air Force Station Sulur.
At around 12.20 pm, the helicopter full of 14 people crashed in the Kattariya area of Nachapa Chatram, while it was descending to make the planned landing at Wellington. The helicopter had travelled about 94 km after taking off from Air Force Station Sulur when it crashed in the Kattariya area. There was only a distance of about 16 km between the crash site and the destination of the helicopter. That is, 16 kilometres before the Wellington Army Camp, CDS Rawat’s helicopter became a victim of the accident. If the helicopter had flown for 5 more minutes, he would have reached his destination, but on the way, there was an accident.
General Rawat has had an illustrious career in the defense services spanning over four decades that saw him rising in ranks to be appointed the first joint chief of the tri-services. The CDS is a one-point advisor to the government on matters related to the military and functions with the main aim of integrating the three services – the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. He was appointed the 27th Chief of the Army Staff in 2016 amid a controversy over his seniority. He had superseded two senior officers to occupy the Army chief’s position. He then rose to become the CDS in 2019. The government had amended the Army rules to extend the age of superannuation from 62 years to 65 years, paving the way for his appointment to the post.
He is credited with being instrumental in reducing militancy in Northeast India. The 2015 cross-border operation into Myanmar in which the Indian Army successfully responded to an ambush by NSCN-K militants was conducted under his supervision. He was also part of the planning for the 2016 surgical strikes, in which the Indian Army went across the Line of Control into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and conducted an airstrike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. General Rawat was reportedly monitoring the developments from South Block in New Delhi.
General Rawat was a veteran in counterinsurgency and high-altitude warfare, having served in difficult terrains including the Northern and Eastern commands. He has also served as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-C) Southern Command. During his long career, he served across the country in various roles. He commanded a company in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir. As a Colonel, he commanded the 5th battalion 11 Gorkha Rifles in the Eastern sector along the Line of Actual Control at Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh. As a Brigadier, he commanded 5 Sector of Rashtriya Rifles in Sopore, Kashmir. He has also been part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and has commanded a multinational brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.
General Rawat has been decorated with many honours for his service, including the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal, and Sena Medal.
General Rawat is an alumnus of the St Edward School in Shimla and the National Defense Academy, Khadakwasla. He was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. He was a recipient of the prestigious “Sword of Honour”. General Rawat also attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.
Rawat was born in Pauri, modern-day Uttarakhand, on 16 March 1958 into a Hindu family. His family had been serving in the Indian Army for multiple generations. His father Laxman Singh Rawat was from Sainj village of the Pauri Garhwal district and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General. His mother was from the Uttarkashi district and was the daughter of Kishan Singh Parmar, the ex-Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Uttarkashi.
Rawat was also a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington and the Higher Command Course at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. From his tenure at the DSSC, he obtained an MPhil degree in Defence Studies as well as a diploma in Management and Computer Studies from the University of Madras. In 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by CCS University, Meerut for his research on military media strategic studies.
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