Jaipur, Dec 9: In a village 50 km from Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district headquarters, grieving relatives of Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, who was the co-pilot of the IAF helicopter that crashed in Tamil Nadu, and residents were on Thursday busy preparing for his cremation.
Singh’s last rites will be conducted at the Mahatma Gandhi Government School ground in his Ghardana Khurd village and thousands are expected to gather to bid him farewell. Village sarpanch Ummed Singh Rao said the Education Department has given its nod for Singh’s cremation. His statue will also be installed in the school.
CDS Bipin Rawat chopper crash– Timeline of what happened
“This is very sad news for everyone in the village. As soon as the news of Singh’s death was confirmed on Wednesday evening, his relatives started reaching the village,” he said. “The entire village is engaged in making arrangements for the funeral procession and the cremation. The villagers and Singh’s relatives have decided to conduct the funeral at the school ground. Thousands of people would be gathering in the village to pay tributes to him,” he added.
Rao said Singh’s father retired from the Navy and many of his cousin brothers are also serving in different armed forces. His father and other members of the family live in Jaipur, while his extended family lives in Ghardana Khurd.
“Singh’s father is currently said to be in Delhi,” he said. Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 other people on board an Indian Air Force helicopter died on Wednesday after it crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, is hospitalised. The mortal remains of the victims in caskets wrapped in the Indian tricolour were taken to the Madras Regimental Centre at Wellington in decorated Army trucks.
Senior Army officials, Tamil Nadu ministers and Army veterans laid wreaths and paid floral tributes. The remains were later taken to Coimbatore by road, about 70 km away, from where they would be flown to New Delhi in a special IAF aircraft. Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra condoled Singh’s demise.
Watch: TN locals chant Bharat Mata ki Jai as ambulance carrying mortal remains of Gen Rawat passes
“The Governor Kalraj Mishra has condoled the martyrdom of Squadron Leader Kuldeep Rao, resident of Ghardana Khurd, Jhunjhunu, in a helicopter accident in Tamil Nadu,” an official statement said Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje took to Twitter to pay a tribute to Singh.
“Deeply saddened to learn that #Rajasthan too has lost a brave-heart in the helicopter crash that claimed the life of CDS #BipinRawat & others. I salute the martyrdom of Squadron Leader Kuldeep Rao, a resident of Ghardana Khurd, Jhunjhunu,” she said. Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh from Ajmer district was also killed in the crash. His last rites will be held in Delhi.
Story first published: Thursday, December 9, 2021, 16:18 [IST]