The country was shaken by the crash of the military helicopter that killed 13 people, including the country's first Joint Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat. The Air Force's state-of-the-art MI17V5 helicopter crashed near Nanchappan Chithiram Colony near Uthagamandalam, Coonoor. Among those killed were General Rawat's wife Madhulika and Keralite soldier Pradeep. Air Force Group Captain Varun Singh, who accompanied them, is under treatment in a critical condition. Although the initial conclusion is that the disaster was caused by fog and bad weather, the facts of the accident will be fully known only after a thorough investigation. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has told the Parliament that a joint team led by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh would be deployed for such an inquiry.
The unexpected demise of General Bipin Rawat and senior soldiers is a major blow to the army. Rawat, who started his career in 1978, became the Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2016, and became the country's first Chief of Defense Staff from January 1, 2020. Rawat was known as the 'Master of Surgical Strikes' among soldiers as he excelled in military deployment and tactical lightning strikes on the border. The country has presented him with numerous military awards, including the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, recognising his military acumen and contributions. The CDS's exit comes at a time when the plan to co-ordinae and evolve the three wings of the defence forces, divided into 17 different branches, and to convert them into theatre commands had run half-way. Madhyamam joins the grief.
General Rawat, who also enjoyed the confidence of the Prime Minister, has been loyal to the government's decisions at all times. Despite the firm commitment to take a tougher stand on Pakistan and China, he fully embraced and implemented the interests of the administration. The General was in favor of dividing Kashmir, making Ladakh a separate province and giving more power to the army there. As soon as he took over as Army Chief, he declared, 'Welcome to India for terrorists crossing the border. Six feet of soil is waiting for you.' He argued that military action, including pellet attacks, would be useful against popular protests in Kashmir and supported such actions. Unlike his predecessors, General Bipin Rawat spoke openly about major political and social struggles, such as the farmers' protests, the anti-CAA protests, and the problems faced by the Northeastern states. And because they unconditionally supported the pro-government stance, there were criticisms also many quarters that the military was being used as a tool by the state. . General Rawat was convinced that peace in the country could be achieved only through strong military measures, and dreamed and worked hard to bring all three armies to world-class standards. This disaster that occurred during that mission is an irredeemable loss to the country.
It goes without saying that the intermittent crashes of Air Force helicopters and planes, causing major accidents, have severely damaged the country's reputation. Our security risks and the dangers of the most modern military vessels are serious. Coonoor was hit by a state-of-the-art helicopter MI17V5, which is regularly flown by the Prime Minister and the President. The same helicopter crashed in February 2019 in Budgam, Srinagar, due to an Israeli-created missile attack caused by a mistake by the air force. The impact of such security breaches on the country is irresistible. Similarly, allegations of corruption in the purchase of military equipment are also a blot. We are paying the price for these deals that are being carried out on the name of national security through the untimely death of invaluable soldiers. The government will hopefully come forward to make a thorough inquiry and diligent action to obviate their recurrence.