Sitting in his home at Ranikhet, Lieutenant General (retd) Mohan Bhandari remembers all the beautiful moments that he shared with the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat.

In fact, he had called him to thank him for arranging health care services for the ex-servicemen in Ranikhet and other parts of Uttarakhand.

Lt. Gen Bhandari had also invited Gen Rawat to his home. Gen Rawat had promised to visit soon. "But now, he won't," says Bhandari.

Lt Gen Bhandari and Gen Rawat were friends for the past 40 years. "I had first met him in Mizoram when we were in 5/11 Gorkha Rifles Battalion," Lt Gen Bhandari fondly recalls. "He had followed his father's footsteps and started his illustrious carrier in 1979 and eventually commanded the same battalion as that of his father's."

Gen Bipin Rawat was born at Sainj village in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. He did his early education at Cambrian Hall in Dehradun. An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he did his Masters in Management and Computer Sciences. Later he completed his Ph.D. from Meerut.

After his eventful start at 5/11 Gorkha Rifles, the Centre sent him on a fellowship programme to the Army Command and General Staff College in Kansas, United States of America.

"This was the second time, I got a chance to get close to him," says Lt Gen Bhandari. "I was on a similar fellowship for a post-graduate course in Pennsylvania,".

After returning from the US, Gen Rawat was posted in the Kashmir valley. Later, he was sent to Congo to command multinational battalions.

When he returned to India, he was appointed commander of the Dagger Division in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla. He kept on receiving promotions and scaling greater heights. He also served in northeast and Pune.

He was one of the key planers of the September 2016 surgical strike against militants in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

In December 2016, Gen Rawat was appointed as Chief of Army Staff. He was also the past Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee. In December 2019, he was appointed the first Chief of Defence Staff.

More than everything, Lt Gen Bhandari remembers Gen Rawat as a close family friend. "His wife Madhulika is very close to my wife," he says.

"It's a monumental loss. He was a very kind-hearted and helpful person. He always worked for the well-being of the defence staff. He was a visionary and outstanding soldier. The security of the nation was in safe hands. He was a very strong man who feared only God. Professionally, he was simply incomparable," says Lt. Gen Bhandari.

He says the whole of Uttarakhand is mourning the loss of Gen Bipin Rawat.

CDS Gen Bipin Rawat died in a Mi-17 V-5 helicopter crash at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. He was en route to give a lecture at Defence Service Staff College in Wellington at 2:45 pm.

Newsmeter Network

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