The Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on Thursday mourned the death of Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others in a helicopter crash, with the Deputy Chairman describing India’s first Chief of Defence Staff as an exceptional and distinguished military leader. When Rajya Sabha met for the day, Deputy Chairman Harivansh informed the house about the tragic accident in Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday afternoon in which CDS Rawat, 63, his wife Madhulika and 11 other defence personnel died.
Reading out Rawat’s obituary, Harivansh said the CDS had an illustrious military career spanning over four decades during which he held several important staff positions and went on to become the Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2016. “In the last two years, Gen Rawat tried to bring transformative reforms in the security architecture of our country,” Harivansh said.
As an individual, he will always be remembered for his commitment to the nation as well as troops, he said. “In the passing away of Gen Rawat, the country has lost an outstanding soldier and an exceptional and distinguished military leader,” he said. The House, he said, deeply mourns the passing away of Gen Rawat, his wife, and 11 others. “The loss of precious lives is indeed painful and unfortunate,” he said after which members stood in silence as a mark of respect to the memory of the departed.
Thereafter, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement about the incident, which was identical to the one made in the Lok Sabha earlier. Singh said that Group Captain Varun Singh, who survived the crash, is on life support at a Wellington hospital.
Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge wanted that floor leaders of all parties to be allowed to pay tributes but Harivansh said the House has collectivity mourned the deaths and there was no precedent to allow such a thing. Congress leader Anand Sharma backed Kharge but the deputy chairman disallowed it.
In the Lok Sabha on Thursday the members stood in silence for a brief while as a mark of respect for the departed souls. As soon as the Lok Sabha met for the day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement on the crash and said that an inquiry has started into the incident. He also paid tributes to the deceased.
Paying tributes, Speaker Om Birla said that Rawat had worked a lot towards bringing in reforms in the system and would be remembered for his dedication. Thirteen of the 14 people on board the helicopter died in the crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. Group Captain Varun Singh, who survived the crash, is on life support at a Wellington hospital.
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