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Candle light tributes to Gen. Rawat surge across Kashmir

Group of Kashmiris in Budgam district holding a candle light march to pay tributes to CDS General Bipin Rawat and others who lost thier lives in chopper crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

Even at Baramulla and the border town of Uri, where he served with an unparalleled liaison with the people, candle light tributes were paid to Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Bipin Rawat, who died along with his wife and 11 others of his staff and crew in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

Known as ‘People’s General’ during his tenures in northern Kashmir’s Uri, Sopore and Baramulla, Gen. Rawat had a very special bond with the people in Valley, particularly those of the district headquarters of Baramulla where he headed a garrison 10 years ago. This bondage, which passed as a legacy through many decorated Army officers like Gen. JJ Singh, who later on became Army chief, made the General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar based Chinar Corps, Lt Gen. DP Pandey to attend a special remembrance ceremony for Gen. Rawat at Baramulla on Thursday.

While paying rich tributes to India’s first CDS, who had served in Baramulla as a Company Commander in Uri, Brigade Commander of 5 Sector of Rashtriya Rifles at Watlab Sopore and Major General of Dagger Division at Baramulla, Gen. Pandey said that the people of Baramulla had lost more than anyone else in Gen. Rawat’s tragic death. It would take a long time, he said, to come out of this grief.

“I do not think I have seen the amount of love and connect which Gen. Rawat had with the people of Uri and Baramulla and with the people of the rest of Kashmir. If you see the DP (display picture) of the local people, particularly the mediapersons, on their social accounts today, I think everyone has it,” Gen Pandey said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of a solemn ceremony organized by the Army at Sherwani Hall.

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People from all walks of life gathered at the hall, constructed to memorialise Maqbool Sherwani of Baramulla, who was killed by the Pakistani tribal raiders for helping the Indian troops in 1947, to pay their tributes to Gen. Rawat. Gen. Pandey recollected how during his tenure in Baramulla district, Gen. Rawat used to attend phone calls from the residents and always fulfill their demands and requirements.

“He (Rawat) would listen to their requirements and then he would call me and ask me to listen to their demands and help them. I am sure the people of Baramulla have lost more than anyone else,” Gen. Pandey said.

“I really wanted to come here when he was a GoC. Though he was also the commander of 5 Sector (RR), the two tenures were close to his heart especially because of the people. I know you all must be feeling this loss like the Indian Army, the armed forces and the whole country is feeling. His wife and other colleagues have also died and this is a huge tragedy and it will take a lot of time for us to come out of this grief,” he said.

As part of the remembrance ceremony, candle light marches were taken out in Baramulla, Kupwara and Machil. The participants, who included local respected citizens and senior Army officers, observed two minutes of silence for the departed souls and prayed to the Almighty to grant them eternal peace.

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In J&K’s summer capital of Srinagar, GOC Chinar Corps and Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar paid glowing tributes at a remembrance ceremony to Gen. Rawat with a candle light march at the iconic Clock Tower at Lalchowk.

Talking to reporters, Gen. Pandey said that the death of CDS was a big national loss as was evident by the fact that the whole country was in a state of shock and mourning. “Condolences are pouring in from across the world. This shows how popular General Rawat was,” Mr Pandey said and paid. He said that Gen. Rawat had a great connection with the people of Kashmir especially those in Baramulla where he had served as sector commander.

Speaking on the occasion, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that General Rawat was a role model for him. “I met him when I was SSP Kupwara and after that I met him in so many informal meetings. He would often guide me and discuss things in a positive manner. His death is a big jolt for the entire security grid. We will follow his foot-steps and fulfill his dream”, the IGP said.