The bodies of Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika were cremated with full military honours in the capital on Friday. Senior government functionaries, including defence minister Rajnath Singh and top military leaders attended the last rites.
The CDS was accorded a 17-gun salute. More than 800 service personnel attended the last rites at Brar Square on Friday afternoon. Earlier in the morning, Rawat’s aide Brigadier LS Lidder was also cremated with military honours at the same location.
Rawat’s house was thronged by thousands of visitors in the morning as his remains laid in state to enable people to pay homage. The body was taken for the last rites by six three-star officers, two each from the three services in accordance with his status as the tri-services chief.
The emotional farewell saw his daughters light the joint pyre. “Post the playing of Last Post and Rouse by tri-services buglers, the funeral pyre was lit by family members,” officials said. Senior military commanders from friendly foreign countries including Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh attended the last rites.
Only the remains of Rawat, his wife, Brig Lidder and Lance Naik Vivek Kumar have been identified and released for last rites. Identifying the rest is expected to take time due to the severity of the helicopter crash. DNA tests are being conducted to identify and release the remains to the concerned families. Twelve service personnel were killed in the chopper crash.
India’s longest serving four-star General, Rawat was on his way to deliver a lecture when the Mi17V5 helicopter ploughed into trees near a tea estate in low visibility, minutes before a planned landing at the Wellington gymkhana helipad in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor on Wednesday.
An inquiry is on into the incident, with the Air Force saying that details relating to the accident will be shared at the earliest. The only survivor of the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh, is battling severe burn injuries at the military hospital in Bengaluru and is still critical.