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New Delhi: Representatives of various governments, including Pakistan, US, Israel and Russia, expressed their condolences over the passing of India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu.
The chopper carrying Gen Rawat and his entourage crashed in apparently foggy conditions, killing the 13 people on board, the Indian Air Force said. One person survived the crash and is being treated at a hospital.
The Pakistan Army’s spokesman in a short statement posted on Twitter said that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Nadeem Raza and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed condolences.
The Pakistani Air Force tweeted: “Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, NI(M) Chief of the Air Staff Pakistan Air Force; has expressed his condolences on the tragic death of Indian CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his spouse, and 11 other passengers/crew members in the helicopter crash today.”
In a statement, the US Embassy, praised General Rawat, saying he “spearheaded a historic period of transformation in the Indian military”.
“He was a strong friend and partner of the United States, overseeing a major expansion of India’s defence cooperation with the US military. In September, he spent five days travelling throughout the United States as part of a counterpart visit with General Mark Milley to discuss military developments and opportunities to enhance our cooperation with like-minded countries. His legacy will continue on,” the statement said.
“Our thoughts are with the Indian people and the Indian military, and we pray for [the sole survivor] Group Captain Varun Singh’s full recovery,” the Embassy added.
Secretary of state Anthony Blinked tweeted later, saying, he will remember General Rawat as an “exceptional leader who served his country” and contributed to the US-India defence relationship.
My deep condolences on the deaths of Indian Chief of Defense Staff General Rawat, his wife, and colleagues who perished in today’s tragic accident. We’ll remember Gen. Rawat as an exceptional leader who served his country and contributed to the U.S.-India defense relationship. https://t.co/yjLv9R05on
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) December 8, 2021
The Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong also expressed his condolences.
Deep condolences on the sad demise of CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife and other victims in the helicopter crash accident. My sympathy goes to all the family members of General Bipin Rawat.
— Sun Weidong (@China_Amb_India) December 8, 2021
The Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said, “Russia has lost a very close friend, who played a big role in [the] promotion of our bilateral special and privileged strategic partnership. Grieving together with India. Goodbye, friend! Farewell, commander!”
Israel defence minister Benny Gantz said in a tweet that he would like to extend condolences on behalf of Israel’s defence establishment and express his personal grief to the people of India and the Indian defence establishment on the loss of CDS General Rawat, his wife and the others who perished in the accident.
India’s neighbours also condoled the death. Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said in a tweet: “Saddened to hear of the tragic passing of #India’s Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat. I had the [honour] of meeting him in 2019 – a true soldier who put service to his nation above all else.
My condolences to his family and the Indian nation for their loss.”
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said he was shocked and saddened to “hear the tragic news” of the untimely death of CDS General Rawat and the others.
The Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering in a tweet said: “Heartaching to learn of helicopter crash in India, claiming 13 precious lives, including the Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat and wife. People of Bhutan and I offer prayers for India and the bereaved families. May you find strength to see through the tragedy.”
The Australian High Commissioner Barry O’ Farrell tweeted that he was deeply saddened to hear the terrible news of the helicopter accident. “Our deepest sympathies to the families of CDS General Bipin Rawat, Madhulika Rawat & others on the helicopter. The Australia- India #defence relationship have thrived during General Rawat’s tenure. #RIP #bipinrawat,” he said.
Emmanuel Lenain, the French ambassador in India also expressed his condolences. “We will remember CDS Rawat as a great military leader & a supporter of France-India defence ties,” he said in a tweet.
The Singapore mission in India said Rawat’s vision, candour and warmth will be missed. “Deepest condolences to all grieving this terrible loss,” the tweet said.
The Taiwan foreign ministry said: “Taiwan grieves with India at this difficult time.”
The German ambassador to India Walter J. Lindner said, “What tragic news! Our deepest condolences to General Bipin Rawat’s family and all relatives of those who perished in the tragic helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu.”