CDS chopper crash: When a village in MP held breath over son’s fate

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Tense moments prevailed in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhamanda village of Sehore district as soon as the news of IAF’s MI17 chopper crash broke out on Wednesday noon. The crash, which tragically claimed 13 lives including India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat, took place near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district.

Naik Jitendra Kumar, a resident of Dhamanda village — around 60 km from state capital Bhopal, was among the 14 on board the ill-fated helicopter. Gen Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, Jitendra Kumar and 10 others died in the crash.

The CDS was on a visit to the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Nilgiri Hills to address the faculty and student officers of the staff course.

The anxiety-struck villagers on Wednesday were constantly switching news channels to get updates on Kumar. The family members and neighbours who gathered at his home were praying for his “safety and recovery” till the IAF announced the names of the deceased.

As soon as the news of Jitendra Kumar’s death broke out, a pall of gloom descended on the family members and the entire village. All their hopes were shattered and everyone began mourning the demise of the brave son.

A police team later arrived at Kumar’s home to step up security in the area, anticipating that a large number of people could pour in to pay tributes to the soldier.

With tears in eyes, family members and villagers are preparing for a painful moment — receiving the mortal remains of the 31-year-old braveheart – 3 Para (SF).

Nitin Singh, a resident of Dhamanda village, told IANS: “Kumar’s father Shivnarayan Verma was proud of him not only because his son was serving the country, more so because his son was the Personal Security Officer of Gen Rawat.”

Kumar, who has two children – a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son, had last visited his home in November.

Gen Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat was also from Madhya Pradesh’s Shahdol district. She was the daughter of two time MLA Mrigendra Singh from Sohagpur assembly constituency in Shahdol.

Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier L.S. Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Naik Vivek Kumar, Naik B. Sai Teja and Havaldar Satpal were travelling along with General Rawat when the chopper crashed.

Apart from them, two pilots, a Group Captain and a gunner were on board the ill-fated chopper.

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