Coonoor chopper crash as a crushing double blow

Maj Gen M Vinaya Chandran (Retd) /

To a service professional who was fortunate to know both the late CDS Gen Rawat, whom he held in guru-like respect; and Brig Lidder, whom he taught, the Coonoor helicopter catastrophe comes as a twin body punch

Brig L S Lidder
Brig L S Lidder

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat was in all senses of the word deserving of being addressed as the supreme commander of the forces. In my 37-year long tenure in the defence sector, he was the best.

Gen Rawat was Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) when I was teaching in the National Defence College, New Delhi. He struck me as a warrior who led by example. All those who served under his command would carry only memories of pleasant experiences. He was captain courageous, who would never lose his temper with anyone, was solicitous of all, and patiently heard out everybody.

This equable temperament, which was much appreciated by the General’s colleagues, is more commendable when viewed in light of the fact that Gen Rawat had held strategic responsibilities in matters of security relating to the sensitive areas of Kashmir and the North-East.

Maj Gen Vinaya Chandran
Maj Gen Vinaya Chandran

Gen Rawat assuming the prestigious post of the first-ever CDS of India raised the morale of the troops. He was instrumental in effecting many changes on being elevated to that position. Our nation is going to benefit from these measures in the future. Such prescience is only to be expected of an officer who had already made his academic mark even before attaining the pinnacle of command in the joint services.

The Coonoor chopper catastrophe is like a twin body punch to me, since Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, the defence assistant to the CDS, who also perished, was my lanky student in Defence College. In his untimely death, the nation loses a counterterrorism specialist.

Thus, I am doubly bereaved, at the loss of a leader who was like a Guru to me, and a tutee.

(Writer was an instructor at the National Defence College, New Delhi)

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