Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who was killed with wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu yesterday, was paid tributes at the military hospital in Wellington before his body was flown to Delhi.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary, Air Force Chief, paid tributes to General Rawat at the wreath-laying ceremony.
General Rawat was on his way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and students when the crash took place. The chopper crashed shortly after it took off from the Air Force base in Sulur at 11.45 am, Coimbatore. It would have landed in 10 more minutes.
Around noon today, a plane with General Rawat's body will take off for the national capital from Sulur air base in Tamil Nadu, it is learnt. The military plane is scheduled to land in Delhi's Air Force Technical Airport around 4 pm. The body will then be taken to Army Hospital in Dhaula Kuan.
At 11 am on Friday, the bodies of General Rawat and wife Madhulika will be taken to their official residence on 3, Kamaraj Marg. Around 2 pm, the bodies, escorted by military bands of all three services, will be taken to Brar crematorium in Dhaula Kuan. The funeral is scheduled for 4 pm.
Tributes have poured in for the General from across the country and abroad. The Prime Minister described him as an "outstanding soldier" and a "true patriot". The Defence Minister called it an "irreparable loss" to the country and the forces.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and the NCP's Sharad Pawar have also tweeted, expressing their condolences.