Some call him a leader par excellence and some describe him as a tough soldier with a soft heart. General Bipin Rawat has been a soldier who felt the pulse of the nation. A counter-insurgency expert, General Rawat has the honor of overseeing two surgical strikes in the Narendra Modi era.
In 2015, he oversaw the cross-border operation against NSCN-K militants in Myanmar. The operation was launched to avenge the killing of soldiers by militants. Gen Rawat was the commander of the Dimapur-based III Corps which supervised the operation. A year later he was again in the thick of things when India planned the surgical strikes to avenge the killing of soldiers in Uri.
Indian army carried out surgical strikes on the terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LOC) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on September 29, 2016, 10 days after four fidayeens (members of suicide squad) stormed the 12 infantry brigade headquarters at Uri killing 18 army soldiers and injuring 20 others. All the four Pakistani fidayeen were later killed in a fierce gunfight.
Gen Rawat was involved in the planning of the operation. On the day of the strike, he was monitoring the developments in South Block. He took over as Indian Army on December 17, 2016, three months after the surgical strike.
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Rawat was commissioned in December 1978 in 11 Gorkha Rifles. His father had also served in the same battalion. General Rawat was appointed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on December 31, 2019, a day after he retired as army chief
A highly decorated soldier, General Rawat was a recipient of Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal, and Sena Medal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation to pay tributes to the soldier who always saw the enemy in his eyes. "Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernizing our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti," PM Modi said.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said General Rawat's untimely death is an irreparable loss to Armed Forces and the country. "Deeply anguished by the sudden demise of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife, and 11 other Armed Forces personnel in an extremely unfortunate helicopter accident today in Tamil Nadu. General Rawat had served the country with exceptional courage and diligence. As the first Chief of Defence Staff he had prepared plans for jointness of our Armed Forces," he said.