New Delhi:Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday extended condolences over the death of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others in a chopper crash earlier in the day in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, reports NDTV.
The Indian Air Force confirmed on Wednesday evening that Gen Rawat, who was India's first Chief of Defence Staff, and his wife Madhulika Rawat were among the 13 persons who died in the fatal chopper crash.
"It's deeply painful for me to learn of the loss of lives in the chopper crash. I join the fellow citizens in paying tributes to each of those who died while performing their duty. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families," added President Kovind.
In a tweet, PM Modi said, "I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families."
"Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti," said the prime minister.
"As India's first CDS, Gen Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to our armed forces including defence reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service," added PM Modi.
Union home minister Amit Shah called Gen Rawat "one of the bravest soldiers" and said his contributions "cannot be put into words".
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the "untimely death" of Gen Rawat is an "irreparable loss" for the Armed Forces of 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. His untimely death is an irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country," he said in a tweet.
In separate tweets, the minister said, "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."
"My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this accident. Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh, who is currently under treatment at the Military Hospital, Wellington," added Mr Singh.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called it an "unprecedented tragedy" and extended condolences to the family of Gen Rawat.
"I extend my condolences to the family of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife. This is an unprecedented tragedy and our thoughts are with their family in this difficult time. Heartfelt condolences also to all others who lost their lives. India stands united in this grief," tweeted Mr Gandhi.