Featured 09 Dec 2021 The other side of th ...

The other side of the General Bipin Rawat

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SWATI SHARMA
Published Dec 9, 2021, 11:58 pm IST
Updated Dec 10, 2021, 12:12 pm IST
Officers who shared a close association with General Rawat and his wife Madhulika, recall the good old times with them
On the fronline: The late CDS General Bipin Rawat with Colonel Durga Prasad (Retd.) and Mrs Prasad in Harsil, Uttarakhand in 1982
 On the fronline: The late CDS General Bipin Rawat with Colonel Durga Prasad (Retd.) and Mrs Prasad in Harsil, Uttarakhand in 1982

When he was not planning an operation, or strategic moves  to counter Pakistan or China, Bipin Rawat would unwind to the tunes of Jhamre – a Nepali genre of music. India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) would often hum his favourite songs and shake a leg at select get-togethers with troops, fortified with a drink of rum or whiskey. His love of life endeared him to the troops he commanded. In fact, on December 4, Rawat was seen enjoying an evening with the 1971 war veterans in New Delhi, to the accompaniment of  Nepali music and of course, his favourite drink.

Sadly, his life was abruptly cut short on December 8, in a helicopter crash which also took the lives of 12 others, including his wife Madhulika.

 

His capacity for enjoying life notwithstanding, Gen. Rawat was the enemy’s worst nightmare. True to his heritage of highly-skilled and brave Gorkha warriors, his presence struck terror in the hearts of the enemy. Like every other Gorkha soldier, he believed that it is ‘Better to die than live like a coward’ —the motto of the Indian Army’s Gurkha regiment.

Those were the days...
Colonel Durga Prasad (Retd.), who had a close association with General Rawat and his wife ever since he was commissioned as an officer in 1978, says the brave solider was known for his grit and fearlessness, and his troops were in awe of him. He was also highly unassuming.
Recalling an incident, Col. Durga Prasad, who belonged to the 5th battalion of Gorkha rifles  along with Gen. Rawat, says, “While Bipin and I were posted at Chakoti in Uri, during Dussehra time, he sprained his ankle and it had to be in plaster. Gorkhas celebrate Dussehra in a grand way, but the troops were not willing to celebrate without him. So they carried Bipin on their shoulders during the festivities, which included a ‘bada khana’ (feast). And all through, the Pakistani troops, known to open unprovoked fire, watched the celebrations.

 

Talking about another incident, he says, “We worked together in Amritsar. One fine Saturday morning, he casually told me, ‘Let’s go have a darshan of Vaishno Devi in Jammu. Before I knew it, both of us were on a bus to Jammu. We quickly walked up to Vaishno Devi, came down, got into another bus and reached Amritsar before the morning PT parade.”

The retired Army official also reveals that the late Gen. Rawat had a narrow escape during an IED blast. “God saved him for greater things,” says Col Durga Prasad.

 

The Colonel, who also knew Madhulika Rawat well, says, “Madhu, as I call her, hailed from a royal family but never had any airs. She was down to earth, just like Bipin. She was of great support to Bipin. She took good care of her in-laws too. She had done several courses with Art of Living.”

Colonel S.K Sinha (Retd.), who was a commanding officer along with Rawat in the same formation in Arunachal Pradesh from 1999 to 2001, recalls that the late General was particularly fond of Wari Jamuna, a song by Khem Raj Gurung. He adds, “Like every other soldier, General Rawat was a huge fan of Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw. He had a prominent signboard in his office with a quote of Sam Bahadur (as he was known) saying "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gorkha."

 

Her art of living
The late Madhulika Rawat, who worked for the welfare of wives, children and dependents of Army personnel and was a part of many welfare programmes and campaigns, was a role model for many. Tina Bhanot, wife of Brigadier A Bhanot, says “I met and interacted with General Bipin Rawat and Mrs Rawat twice — once at the Armoured Corps School and Centre, Ahmednagar, and again when my husband was Dy. Commandant, Military Institute of Technology, Girinagar, Pune, a tri-service institute directly under the CDS. As the officiating director, Defence Wives Welfare Association, I interacted with Mrs Rawat regarding the welfare activities and projects for soldiers’ families. She was an affectionate, simple and loving person who was approachable. She was passionate about the welfare of the soldiers and was concerned that soldiers’ children got the best possible coaching and medical facilities during COVID. She was a true Army wife.”  Tina Bhanot adds, “as a couple, they were loving and social.”

 

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