PM Modi leads nation in paying tributes to Gen Rawat, 12 others killed in IAF chopper crash

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country’s top military brass on Thursday paid homage to India’s first Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika, Brig LS Lidder and 10 more defence personnel at the Palam air base after their bodies were brought to Delhi in a military aircraft.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, NSA Ajit Doval, Army Chief MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, Air Chief Marshal AVR Chaudhari and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar were among those who paid homage to the deceased at a sombre ceremony.

“Paid my last respects to Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. India will never forget their rich contribution,” Modi tweeted.

Heart-wrenching scenes were seen at the Palam airport as 13 caskets were lined up inside a hangar in presence of their family members.

The prime minister also reached out to the family members of the deceased and talked to them for a few minutes.

The 13 people were killed when their helicopter crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu in an air tragedy that triggered grief across the country.

An Indian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft carrying the bodies from the Sulur airbase touched down at the Palam technical airport around 7:35 pm.

Only three of the 13 bodies have been identified so far — Gen Rawat and his wife, Madhulika Rawat and Brigadier LS Lidder. Army officials said the bodies of those identified will be released to the families for last rites.

The other bodies will be kept at the mortuary at the Army Base Hospital till they are identified.

The bodies of Gen Rawat and his wife will be kept at their 3 Kamaraj Marg residence for the general public to pay their final respects from 11 am to 12:30 pm Friday.

The slot between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm will be kept for military personnel to pay their respects to the outstanding commander and his wife.

The final journey of Gen Rawat from his residence to the Brar Square crematorium is scheduled to start around 2 pm. The funeral is scheduled for 4 pm. Brigadier Lidder’s funeral would be held at 9 am.

All the bodies were to be taken to the Army hospital Dhaula Kuan after the tribute ceremony.

Besides Gen Rawat, his wife and Brig Lidder, the 10 other personnel killed in the accident are: Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Sai Teja.

The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, is currently undergoing treatment at a military hospital in Bengaluru.



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