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CDS Bipin Rawat laid to rest with 17-Gun salute, 800 officers in attendance

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The funeral procession of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika Rawat, left their Delhi home this afternoon in attendance of hundreds of service personnels. Decked with flowers, the gun carriage drove slowly to the Brar Square crematorium accompanied by loud shouts of ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’.

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Elaborate arrangements have been made for Gen Rawat’s funeral, with 800 service personnel to take part in the occasion. India’s first CDS will be accorded a sombre 17-gun salute in line with protocol.

The bodies of General Rawat, his wife and the defence personnel killed in the clash were flown in from Sulur in Tamil Nadu last night. On their arrival at Palam air base in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and top officials of the defence services paid them tributes.

Gen Rawat and his wife will be cremated with full military honours at the Brar Square Crematorium, where, just a few hours earlier, the armed forces bid goodbye to his aide, Brigadier LS Lidder.

Military personnel from all three branches of service – Army, Navy, and Air Force – marched alongside the gun carriage as drummers played in tribute to India’s first Chief of Defence Staff. Dozens of civilians could be seen marching alongside as well.

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Starting 11 am, a sea of mourners visited Gen Rawat’s residence, where his wife and he were laid in state to allow family, friends, and the public to pay their respects.

Gen Rawat and Madhulika Rawat’s daughters – Kritika and Tarini – paid floral tributes, as did their young grandchild. Home Minister Amit Shah and NSA Ajit Doval were also present, as were Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and the chief ministers of Uttarakhand and Delhi. Gen Rawat hailed from the Pauri Garwhal district in Uttarakhand.

In attendance at the funeral will be senior military commanders from Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Messages of grief have poured in from many more countries, including the US, the UK, China, France, Japan and Israel.

The bodies of Gen Rawat, his wife and the 11 others were brought back to Delhi last night on a C130-J Super Hercules transport aircraft. As the plane landed, PM Modi led tributes in a brief but emotional ceremony.

Only four bodies have been identified so far – Gen Rawat and his wife, Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier LS Lidder, and Lance Naik Vivek Kumar. Their bodies will be released to the families for last rites. The others will be kept at the Army Base Hospital till identified.

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Group Captain Singh – the sole survivor – was being treated at the military hospital in Wellington. He has been airlifted to the Air Force’s Command Hospital in Bengaluru. The Group Captain is stable but remains in critical condition, officials have said.

The Air Force this afternoon said the inquiry into the crash “would be completed expeditiously”. A tri-service inquiry has been ordered and it will be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, who is India’s senior-most chopper pilot.

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