Express News Service
DEHRADUN: Bharat Singh Rawat, a distant relative of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Singh Rawat, recalls the day when people of the Saina village celebrated the latter’s elevation as CDS after he retired as the Army chief, on January 1, 2020.
As the news of the demise of General Rawat demise, his wife and 11 others reached the village, an air of gloom engulfed the village.
Bharat Singh Rawat (62), a distant uncle of the CDS, said, “This is shocking for all of us. He was not only our pride but the pride of the nation too. Cruel fate has halted his glorious journey. Many still don’t believe this tragic news.”
Saina village, the native village of General Rawat, is approximately 80 km from Kotdwar, the district headquarters of Pauri district. The village is now mourning with no cooking for Wednesday. The villagers will also stop the consumption of certain delicacies including the use of oil and salt as part of the mourning rituals.
The CDS had visited his native village after taking over as chief of Army Staff in the year 2016 and also in May 2018.
“He told me during his May 2018 visit that he wanted to build a house near mine. He had to walk for over a km to get here and told me that he would request the government to build a motorable road connecting the village,” recalled Singh, who has served the Army in the capacity of havildar.
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General Rawat had written to the state government earlier regarding the construction of a road as one has to walk for over one kilometre from the main road to reach Saina.
According to the 2011 census, the village has two households and five people. Among them, three are male and two female. Interestingly, there are no children in the village which is part of the Birmoli Gram Sabha in the Pauri district.
Mansi Devi, the Gram Pradhan, said, “We looked up to him as an eternal source of inspiration. For us, he was a father figure, a strong man who lives by ideals and inspires others to do well in life as well as contribute to nation-building.”
As the news of the Mi-17 chopper crash came, the residents of the hamlet and the nearby villages started praying.
General Rawat during a visit to his native village (Photo | EPS)
Meanwhile, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami and people from all corners of the state had expressed their wishes and offered prayers for his well being along with others.
Later, as the news of demise came in, the mood in the state became sombre across the state. Condolences started pouring in.
CM Dhami, Governor Lieutenant (Retd) General Gurmit Singh along with many others took it to Twitter and other social media platforms to express their condolences.
“Son of the Soil…From Pauri Uttarakhand… General & Mrs Madhulika had graced Uttarakhand Sthapana Divas on 9th November 2021at Dehradun, just recently… Remembered beautiful moments of our professional life…Rest in Eternal Peace…Waheguru, Our Prayers…,” the Governor Tweeted.
“It is deeply painful for all of us to learn about the unfortunate demise of the honorable CDS General Bipin Rawat. He devoted his life to the nation. I express my condolences to his family and the whole nation,” said Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.