Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pays homage to the departed and makes a statement in both Houses of Parliament. The Air Force probe team has reached the spot, he said.
New Delhi: Both The Houses of Parliament on Thursday (December 9) observed two minutes of silence each as a mark of respect to the country's first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and other officers and personnel who died in a military helicopter crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also made a statement in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and said the Air Force inquiry team has already reached Wellington and has started investigating the mishap that has thrown the country into a sad mood.
The ill-fated Air Force copter was expected to land at around 12.15 PM, but the Air Traffic Control lost contact with it from around 12.08 PM, the Defence Minister told the Rajya Sabha.
"The Air Force Mi 17 V 5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 AM yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 PM. Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 PM," the Defence Minister said.
Air Marshal Manvendra Singh is heading the tri-services inquiry into the IAF Mi-17 that crashed in the afternoon. Sources said Singh is Commander of Indian Air Force's training command and a helicopter pilot himself.
Several people mourn the demise of CDS Rawat at his native village Bhamorikhal in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand on Thursday.
"He was very close to us. We were expecting him to come soon soon," says his sobbing uncle Bharat Singh Rawat.
Meanwhile, opposition parties on Thursday did not protest against the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs.
Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said this was done in honour of CDS Bipin Rawat, other officers and soldiers who died in the chopper crash.
The Defence Minister said the Indian Air Force (IAF) ordered a tri-service inquiry into the crash. Sources also said that the injured Group Captain Varun Singh's health condition is critical but stable.
He is under watch, and if necessary, he may be shifted from the Military Hospital, Wellington, to the Command Hospital.
Mr Rajnath Singh said in the Lower House of Parliament that the last rites of CDS General Rawat would be performed with full military honours.
The last rites of other military personnel will be performed with appropriate military honour:
Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in Military Hospital, Wellington, and all-out efforts are on saving him, Mr Singh said.
"General Bipin Rawat dedicated his life to patriotic duty and led by example. From being awarded the Sword of Honour at the IMA to being appointed the first CDS of the country-Gen Rawat's exemplary service to the nation will be an inspiration for future generations," the RSS said.
"I join the nation in mourning his tragic passing," said the RSS Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale.
A somber mood prevails across the country, even on Thursday. School students, social workers and others paid floral tribute to the first CDS General Rawat, his wife and 11 other officers and personnel.