The chief of the Indian Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other travelers died on Wednesday after the military helicopter Mi-17V5 in which they were traveling crashed. The event occurred this Wednesday at noon (local time) near the city of Coonoor, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, according to the Indian Air Force. Among the deceased are the four members of the aircraft’s crew.
Rawat, 63, assumed the newly created post of Chief of Defense Staff by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in late 2019, as well as the post of adviser at the Defense Ministry. “His premature death is an irreparable loss for our Armed Forces and the country,” the Indian minister, Rajnath Singh, has published hours after the fatal event was known. The sole survivor of the incident, Army Captain Varun Singh, is currently admitted to the Wellington Military Hospital (western Tamil Nadu), the minister said.
The Rawat high command had scheduled this Wednesday a talk with the professors and students of the School of the General Staff of the Defense Services, in the town of Nilgiri (western Tamil Nadu). The Indian Armed Forces, which have not yet provided details about the accident, indicated in a statement that “an investigation has been opened” to determine the causes of the accident.
Rawat took office in December 2016 as head of the Army, amidst a wave of tension with neighboring Pakistan over the sovereignty conflict over the Kashmir region, the origin of several wars and disputes between these two nuclear powers during the last 70 years. . In September of that year, an attack by Pakistani insurgents killed about two dozen Indian soldiers, to which New Delhi responded to the terrorist attack with “surgical” strikes on the border and a diplomatic campaign against Islamabad.
Military aircraft accidents are a constant in India. In 2019, an Indian military pilot was killed and two others injured after colliding his stunt plane with another aircraft during exercises in the city of Bangalore, in southern India, while in October 2017 at least five members of the Indian Air Force were killed after an M-17 helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh, in the northeast. In December 2015, ten members of the BSF border corps were killed in a crash in New Delhi.
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