Bipin Rawat: Helicopter carrying India’s most senior general crashes in Tamil Nadu

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A military helicopter carrying India’s defence chief Bipin Rawat crashed in a southern state on Wednesday, killing at least four people, according to the state broadcaster.

General Rawat, 63, and his wife Madhulika Rawat were among 14 people travelling in the chopper, but there is no immediate confirmation of the condition of the Chief of Defence staff (CDS) or his wife.

The Indian Air Force confirmed that General Rawat was inside the helicopter at the time and had taken a flight to Sulur earlier on Wednesday. The crash took place in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu state, shortly after the chopper took off from the army base in Sulur.

“An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the official handle of the Indian Air Force tweeted.

At least four people were reported dead and three others have been rushed to Coonoor General Hospital, located around 7km from the accident spot.

This is not the first helicopter crash involving General Rawat — he survived an incident in 2015 when his chopper came down in the northeastern state of Nagaland.

Television images on Wednesday afternoon showed the crashed helicopter engulfed in flames as local residents tried to douse it, while at least one eye witness told Indian media he had seen the charred bodies of some passengers. A man who claimed to be an eye-witness told The Quint that he saw the chopper approaching and that it caught fire while descending.

Two defence sources told Reuters that they were currently trying to ascertain General Rawat’s condition.“We don’t know yet,” one of the sources said.

People gather outside the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat’s residence in New Delhi (EPA)
People gather outside the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat’s residence in New Delhi (EPA)

General Rawat is the most senior official in the Indian military, as well as an adviser to the Defence Ministry. He has previously served as chief of the Indian army.

He was appointed as India’s first CDS by prime minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2019 — a position created with the aim of integrating the army, the navy, and the air force.

Other senior military figures were also listed as being on board the helicopter at the time of the crash, according to a passenger manifesto shared widely by Indian media. They included General Rawat’s defence assistant Brigadier LS Lidder and his staff officer Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh.

Later on Wednesday, Mr Modi called for a meeting over security, and defence minister Rajnath Singh was seen visiting the Delhi residence belonging to General Rawat. He is likely to make a statement regarding the crash in parliament on Thursday, according to the state broadcaster.

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has instructed the local administration to provide the best medical care possible to the injured, and was scheduled to visit the district where the crash happened on Wednesday evening.

The Indian army’s Mi-17V5 helicopters, like the model involved in the crash, are used in high-altitude operations and for transporting officials, including the prime minister.

A Russia-made military transport version of Mi-8 choppers, they are also capable of dropping tactical air assault forces.

Read More

Missionary school in India attacked by mob as hate crimes rise against Christians

Indian doctors warn of ‘massive’ third wave if omicron is allowed to spread

Woman gives birth while trying to get to Pakistan from India, names baby boy Border

17 teenage girls allegedly drugged and molested by two school officials in India

Mass funeral held for 15 civilians mistakenly killed by Indian armed forces

Stolen statue of Hindu goddess that was almost auctioned to be returned to India

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting