Gen Rawat's two daughters, Kritika and Tarini, performed the final rites and lit the pyre amidst a 17-gun salute by the Armed forces
New Delhi: India on Friday bid a teary farewell to its first chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat with full military honours.
The final rites of Gen. Rawat along with his wife Madhulika Rawat were performed at the Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment and they were laid to rest on the same pyre for cremation.
Gen Rawat's two daughters, Kritika and Tarini, performed the final rites and lit the pyre amidst a 17-gun salute by the Armed forces. Some 800 armed forces personnel were present at the funeral of the CDS.
Gen. Rawat, his wife and 11 other military personnel were killed when the Indian Air Force's Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed on Wednesday afternoon near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force and ambassador of France in India Emmanuel Lenain and British High Commissioner Alex Ellis
were present during the cremation. A number of defence veterans including former Army chiefs paid their tributes to Gen. Rawat before the cremation.
Several military commanders from the neighbouring countries reached New Delhi to attend the last rites, including Gen. Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Brig Dorji Rinchen, Deputy Chief Operations Officer, Royal Bhutan Army, Lt. Gen. Bal Krishna Karki, Chief of General Staff (equivalent to Vice Chief of Army Staff), Nepali Army and Lt Gen Waker-UZ-Zaman, Principal Staff Officer, Armed Forces Division, Bangladesh.
Earlier in the morning, Gen. Rawat's mortal remains were laid in state at his 3 Kamraj Marg residence to enable people to pay homage. Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, home minister Amit Shah, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath among others paid their tribute to Gen Rawat. At around 2pm, Gen. Rawat's mortal remains were taken on a gun carriage decked with flowers and draped with the national flag to the Brar Square crematorium. People lined up along the whole route and were showering flower petals and chanting "Gen Rawat amar rahe".
In the morning the last rites of Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh Lidder (Defence Advisor to the CDS), who was among those killed in the air crash, were performed at Brar Square Crematorium with military honours.
"We must give him a good farewell, a smiling send-off, I am a soldier's wife. It's a big loss...," said Geetika Lidder, wife of Brigadier Lidder. She along with her 16-year-old daughter, Aashna, paid an emotional tribute to her husband. "There is more sadness than pride... life now is very long but... whatever. If this is what God wants, we will live with this loss. But this is not the way we wanted him back. If it was not meant to be... I don't know. But my child will miss him. He was a very good father," she said.
The severity of air crash has led to difficulty in positive identification of mortal remains of the remaining 10 military personnel who were also killed in the accident along with Gen. Rawat. "Positive identification of only three mortal remains has been possible as of now, which are Gen. Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and Brig Lidder. Their mortal remains will be released to the next of kin, for final religious rites as desired by respective families," a senior Army official had said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, senior officials said that the condition of Gp Capt Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the accident, is "critical but stable". He is undergoing treatment at Command Hospital Bangalore.