The US, Russia, Pakistan, Bhutan, the UK, France and Israel were among the countries that condoled the death of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Bipin Rawat.
“Farewell, commander!’’, said Nikolay Kudashev, Ambassador of Russia to India while the Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said “Goodbye, friend!’’ as tributes poured in from envoys, ministers and army chief with whom Gen Rawat had interacted extensively as India adopted a more outward oriented security posture under his command.
From Pakistan, Chief of the Air Staff, ACM Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen. Nadeem Raza expressed their condolences over the “loss of precious lives’’ in the helicopter crash.
The US Embassy noted that he had “spearheaded a historic period of transformation” in the Indian military and was overseeing a major expansion of India’s defence cooperation with the US military.
In September, he spent five days travelling throughout the US as part of a counterpart visit with Gen Mark Milley to discuss military developments, it said.
“Our thoughts are with the Indian people and the Indian military, and we pray for Group Captain Varun Singh’s full recovery,” added the statement.
French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said he was “deeply saddened’’ by the demise of Gen Rawat, his wife, and several defence officials in a crash. “We will remember CDS Rawat as a great military leader and a supporter of France-India defence ties,’’ he observed.
The Israeli envoy Naor Gilon and his Defence Minister Gantz extended condolences on behalf of Israel’s defence establishment.
Kudashev said Russia has lost a “very close friend, who played a big role in promotion of our bilateral special and privileged strategic partnership”.
The Australian envoy Barry O’Farrel described Gen Rawat as a “great patriot and hero” while expressing regret over the demise.
UK High Commissioner Alex Ellis said Gen Rawat was “a wise man, a brave soldier, a pioneer and a generous host to me only weeks ago” and mourned “the deaths in this terrible accident’’.
Bhutan PM Lotay Shering said it was “heart-aching’’ to learn of the helicopter crash in India.
“The people of Bhutan and I offer prayers for India and the bereaved families. May you find strength to see through the tragedy,’’ he said in his condolence message.