Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that a tri-service inquiry will be conducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash the previous day that resulted in the death of the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika, and 11 other personnel of the armed forces. Making a statement in Parliament this morning, the Union minister said that the tri-service inquiry team, which will be led by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, reached Wellington on Wednesday itself and has already started its investigation in the matter.
“The Indian Air Force has ordered a tri-service inquiry into the military chopper crash,” said Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha, adding, “The investigation will be led by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh. The inquiry team reached Wellington yesterday itself and started the investigation.”
Notably, Air Marshal Manavendra Singh is the commander of the IAF’s training command and a helicopter pilot himself, according to air force personnel.
Footage from Sansad TV showed that the Lok Sabha had decided to observe two minutes of silence before the commencement of its usual proceedings, out of respect for all 13 of the Indian Armed forces personnel who lost their lives yesterday in the military helicopter crash.
Elaborating on the matter at hand, the defence minister further said that CDS General Bipin Rawat’s last rites will be performed with full military honours. “The last rites of the other military personnel will be performed with appropriate military honours as well,” the minister said, adding that the mortal remains of all the victims shall be brought back to the national capital, New Delhi, by this evening.
The Indian Air Force’s Mi-17V5 military helicopter, carrying CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika, and 11 other armed forces personnel, crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu after losing contact with the Sulur control room at around 12.08pm on Wednesday. As many as 13 of the 14 onboard the copter, including the pilot, perished in the incident. The sole survivor, group captain Varun Singh, is presently fighting for his life at a military hospital in Wellington. All efforts are being made to save his life, assured the Union defence minister.