Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country’s top military brass on Thursday paid homage to India’s first Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika, Brig LS Lidder and 10 more defence personnel at the Palam airbase after their bodies were brought to Delhi in a military aircraft.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, NSA Ajit Doval, Army Chief MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, Air Chief Marshal AVR Chaudhari, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar were among those who paid homage to the deceased at a sombre ceremony.
Heart-wrenching scenes were seen at the Palam airport as 13 caskets were lined up inside a hangar in presence of their family members.
The 13 people were killed when their helicopter crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu in an air tragedy that triggered grief across the country. A
An Indian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft carrying the bodies from the Sulur airbase touched down at the Palam technical airport at around 7:35 pm.
Heart-wrenching scenes were seen at the Palam airport as 13 caskets were placed inside a hangar in presence of their family members. Only three of the 13 bodies have been identified so far — Gen Rawat and his wife, Madhulika Rawat, and Brigadier LS Lidder.
Army officials said the bodies of those identified will be released to families for last rites. The other bodies will be kept at the mortuary at the Army Base Hospital till they are identified.
The bodies of Gen Rawat and his wife would be kept at their 3 Kamaraj Marg residence for the general public to pay their final respects and the general public will be allowed to pay homage from 11 am to 12:30 pm.
The slot between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm would be kept for military personnel to pay their respects to the outstanding commander and his wife.
The final journey of Gen Rawat from his residence to the Brar Square crematorium is scheduled to start at around 2 pm. The funeral is scheduled for 4 pm.
Brigadier Lidder’s funeral would be held at 9 am.
Besides Gen Rawat, his wife and Brig Lidder, 10 Armed forces personnel were killed in the Wednesday Mi-17V5 helicopter crash which is one of the biggest air accidents in India in decades involving senior military officers.
The other personnel killed in the accident are Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Sai Teja.
The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, is currently undergoing treatment at a military hospital in Bengaluru.