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General Bipin Rawat’s last rites today, Army works to identify remains of ten

All the bodies were flown from Sulur near Coimbatore to the Palam air base Thursday evening where family members watched as caskets were brought out of an IAF aircraft and lined inside a hangar.

Written by Krishn Kaushik , Amil Bhatnagar | New Delhi |
Updated: December 10, 2021 6:58:02 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with General Bipin Rawat’s daughters; (below) Brigadier L S Lidder’s wife and daughter at Palam air base on Thursday. Anil Sharma

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, the nation’s most senior military officer who was killed, along with his wife and 11 armed forces personnel, in an IAF helicopter crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu Wednesday, will be cremated with full military honours in New Delhi Friday afternoon.

All the bodies were flown from Sulur near Coimbatore to the Palam air base Thursday evening where family members watched as caskets were brought out of an IAF aircraft and lined inside a hangar.

First CDS, Rawat was one of the most celebrated soldiers of his time

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met the family members, led the nation in paying tribute by placing a wreath and offering petals before each of the 13 caskets.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, and chiefs of the three services were among those present. They were seen consoling the distraught family members, among them the daughters of General Rawat and the wife and daughter of Brigadier L S Lidder.

Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Indian Air Force, Coonoor Crash, Coonoor Chopper Crash, IAF Chopper Crash, General Bipin Rawat death, Bipin Rawat dead, Coast Guard, Indian army, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India News Portraits of the deceased people, including that of Gen Bipin Rawat’s wife Madhulika, on display. (Express photo by Anil Sharma)

In a Twitter post later, Modi said he had paid his respects to the departed: “India will never forget their rich contribution.”

The Army said the mortal remains of only three persons —General Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and Brigadier Lidder — had been positively identified so far, and their cremation will take place Friday.

Explained: No clear line of succession, CCS to decide on next CDS

The remains of the remaining 10 will be kept in the mortuary of the Army Base Hospital till positive identification is completed. The bodies will then be handed over to their families for the last rites.

The body of the CDS will lie in state at his residence, 3, Kamaraj Marg, on Friday morning. Civilian dignitaries and citizens will be allowed to pay their last respects from 11 am to 12.30 pm. Military personnel will be allowed inside thereafter. Around 2 pm, his body will be taken to the Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment.

Brigadier Lidder’s last rites will be conducted at Brar Square crematorium at 9 am.

All the bodies were flown from Sulur near Coimbatore to the Palam air base Thursday evening where family members watched as caskets were brought out of an IAF aircraft and lined inside a hangar.

Sources in the defence establishment said the condition of the bodies after the crash had made identification difficult. DNA matching and visual identification will be done for the remaining 10 people, and the process could take time.

All remains were brought to Delhi, and the armed forces, sources said, were in contact with the next of kin to facilitate identification. The last rites will be done as soon as possible, sources said, maintaining military decorum “irrespective of rank and status” of the deceased.

Rescue workers at the site of the helicopter crash in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday. (PTI)

The Army said “positive identification of only three mortal remains has been possible as of now… and their mortal remains will be released to the Next of Kin, for final religious rites as desired by respective families”.

The process for the “positive identification of remaining mortal remains is continuing” and they will be “kept at the Mortuary of Army Base Hospital till completion of positive identification formalities”.

“The severity of air crash has led to difficulty in positive identification of mortal remains. All possible measures are being taken for positive identification considering the sensitivities and emotional well-being of the loved ones,” it said.

“Assistance of close family members for positive identification will be taken in addition to scientific measures. Mortal remains will be released to the Next of Kin only after positive identification,” it said.

Earlier, the mortal remains of the 13 were taken by road from Wellington to Sulur Air Force Station. From Sulur, they were flown in a C-17 Globemaster to Delhi.

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