In an unfortunate tragedy on December 8, the helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat met an accident near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.
The incident happened at 12:15 pm. At 6:03 pm, the Indian Air Force aannounced the unfortunate demise of CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife Smt. Madhulika Rawat and 11 others.
The Hindu, in its December 9 edition, reported with floating headline on its front page “Rawat, 12 others killed in T.N. chopper crash”.
This created a social media storm. People started criticising The Hindu for showing disrespect to CDS General Bipin Rawat.
On December 14, The Hindu published a note justifying the headline of December 10. In its justification, the note said, “As a general rule, The Hindu avoids using honorifics and rank or designation in headlines. Again, as a general rule, The Hindu stylebook allows the use of only commonly recognised abbreviations or acronyms in headlines.”
In the beginning of the note it said it “meant no disrespect whatsoever” to CDS General Bipin Rawat.
When social media users pointed out that it had used’ General Bajwa’, ‘Secretary of State Blinken’, The Hindu justified it saying these honorifics were used on the web which has no space constraint. After the outrage, The Hindu used ‘General Rawat’ in subsequent headlines in the newspaper.
The lone survivor of the accident, Group Captain Varun Singh, who was undergoing treatment in Bengaluru, passed away on December 15.
The Indian Air Force said, “IAF is deeply saddened to inform the passing away of braveheart Group Captain Varun Singh, who succumbed this morning to the injuries sustained in the helicopter accident on 08 Dec 21. IAF offers sincere condolences and stands firmly with the bereaved family.”
Apart from the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and his wife Smt. Madhulika Rawat, Brig LS Lidder, Lt Col H Singh, Wg Cdr PS Chauhan, Sqn Ldr K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Hav Satpal, Nk Gursewak Singh, Nk Jitender, L/Nk Vivek and L/Nk S Teja had lost their lives on December 8 in the crash.
“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. I join the nation in mourning his tragic passing”, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarkaryavah Shri Dattatreya Hosabale had said.
General Rawat had taken over as the CDS on January1, 2020, after serving as the army chief for a full three-year term. He held the four-star rank for almost five years, making him the longest serving four-star general in India.