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Indians Mourn Death of Bipin Rawat, Top General Who Oversaw Army Reform

© Photo : Ministry of Defence/Government of India The Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat
The Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.12.2021
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India created the post of a chief of defence staff (CDS) in 2019, around 19 years after a high-level committee set up to review the Kargil War of 1999 with Pakistan recommended it.
India's chief of defense staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and several other defence personnel, including crew members, were killed in an Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17V5 helicopter crash in Nilgiri Hills minutes before its scheduled landing. The aircraft reportedly crashed because of low visibility.

"With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident," the Indian Air Force said in a statement.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that as India’s first CDS, General Rawat worked on a diverse range of topics relating to the armed forces including defence reforms.
"He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service," Modi said.
Rajnath Singh, India's defence minister said that Rawat's untimely death is an "irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country."

"General Rawat had served the country with exceptional courage and diligence. As the first Chief of Defence Staff he had prepared plans for the cohesion of our Armed Forces," Singh said.

Other prominent Indians have extended their condolences to the family of General Rawat.

"This is an unprecedented tragedy and our thoughts are with [the Rawat] family in this difficult time. Heartfelt condolences also to all others who lost their life. India stands united in this grief," Rahul Gandhi, former president of Congress, said.

Diplomats have also expressed their sorrow over Rawat's tragic death.
"Tragic news. General Rawat was a wise man, a brave soldier, a pioneer & a generous host to me only weeks ago. We mourn his death and that of his wife, and all killed in this terrible accident," Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, tweeted.
General Bipin Rawat, former Indian Army Chief, was appointed first chief of defence staff (CDS) on 30 December 2019. He was also heading a separate department in the defence ministry named the Department of Military Affairs.
Born in 1958 in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, Rawat was meant to be stepping down from his position as CDS in 2023. The defence ministry had specially amended the service rules in 2019 by introducing a new clause allowing the chief of defence staff to serve until age 65.
General Rawat was commissioned to the Fifth Battalion, the Eleventh Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army, the battalion commanded by his father, in December 1978.
He commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control (China border) in the Eastern Sector; a Rashtriya Rifles Sector; an Infantry division in the Kashmir Valley; and a corps in the North-East.
He had long experience in high-altitude warfare and spent more than 10 years conducting counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir and the north-eastern part of the country.
While serving with the UN in Congo, he was twice awarded the Force Commander's Commendation.
Rawat was tasked with taking the 17 single-service commands that exist at present across the three services and combining them into just four geographical commands, each with elements from all three services. The reorganisation of the armed forces is aimed to ensure the placement of specific units of the army, the navy, and the air force under a theatre commander.
Famous for speaking from his heart, General Rawat also introduced modernisation into the Indian Armed Forces and engineered a speedier procurement process for major military platforms.
Despite being an Army general, Rawat never minced his words and often faced anger from certain sections of society.
Reacting to India's supreme court judgment on gay sex, General Rawat said: "We will not allow this to happen in the Army." At the peak of protests against the amendment in citizenship law in December 2019, he said students were being led in "inappropriate directions".

“Leaders are not those who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing with a large number of university and college students. The way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in cities and towns. This is not leadership," he was quoted as saying.

The chief of defence staff had survived a helicopter crash in the Dimapur district in the state of Nagaland on 3 February 2015.
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