The day of 8th December’21, plunged the whole country into grief, as the unfortunate news of the crashing of the IAF Mi17V5 helicopter in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, started flashing as the headline. This carrier had India’s first CDS Bipin Rawat along with his wife Mrs. Madhulika Rawat and 11 other defence personnel. The entire nation was praying for their well being but fate had something else in the store. The untimely demise of the son of this motherland shook the entire nation.

General Rawat was not just known as the nation’s first CDS, but for his strategic ability, his vision and vast experience that continued to successfully guide the army in the midst of difficult challenges. He was known to take tough decisions, even at the risk of being unpleasant. He believed in expressing his views openly.

The entire nation mourned over the demise of their fearless hero, but for the people of Uttarakhand, it felt like a personal loss. The general shared a special connection with this state. His roots belonged to a nondescript village – Birmolikhal – in the Pauri Garhwal district. His family had been serving the nation for multiple generations.

General Rawat attended Cambrian School in Dehradun and St. Edward’s school in Shimla. He was an alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Military Academy (IMA), where he graduated first in order of merit and was awarded a sword of honour. General Rawat was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978 in the same unit as his father, the fifth battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles. During his 43- years in service, General Rawat served as a Brigade Commander, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-C) Southern Command, General Staff Officer Grade 2 at the Military Operations Directorate, Colonel Military Secretary and Deputy Military Secretary in the Military Secretary’s Branch, and Senior Instructor in the Junior Command Wing. He was also a part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and has commanded a multinational brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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. He took the office as the 27th Chief of Army Staff on 31 December 2016. Under his leadership, the army was simultaneously handling the extraordinary challenges arising out of the tension on the two frontiers with great skill. Eventually, he was appointed first Chief of Defence Staff on December 30, 2019, and took office on January 1, 2020. As the country’s first CDS, he initiated the process of modernization and theaterisation of the Indian Army. Although both these tasks were not easy, they had many complications. That’s why this process was not progressing fast, but according to his nature, General Rawat was engaged in removing all the difficulties one by one.

Today, although his lifeless body has merged with the five elements, “A HERO NEVER DIE”, he is alive in the heart of every Indian and will be alive. We pay our homage to the fearless General Bipin Rawat, Mrs. Madhulika Rawat and all those who lost their lives in this tragedy.

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