The country’s first Chief of Defence Staff Late General Bipin Rawat, who died in an IAF helicopter crash, shared a special bond with the Kodagu district of Karnataka, which is regarded as the land of army generals.
Retired Major General Biddanda Aiyappa Nanjappa, Convener of Field Marshal Cariappa and General Thimmaiah Forum, speaking to IANS recalled that Late CDS Rawat had great respect for Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and General Thimmaiah. “CDS Rawat visited Kodagu four times. He was instrumental in getting the General Thimmaiah Museum inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind, who is Commander-in-Chief of Indian Armed Forces on February 6, 2021,” he remembered.
“2016 he came for the Southern Command Golf tournament when he was an army commander. While having lunch, he assured that he would bring the army chief to Kodagu. In 2017, being a Southern Army Commander he came along with Dalbir Singh Suhag, then Chief of the Army staff as promised. Then, he visited the late General Thimmaiah Museum and extended financial assistance also,” Nanjappa explained.
“Later, we requested Rawat that Delhi Parade Ground in New Delhi be named after Field Marshal Cariyappa and also install and unveil a statue there. It was done by August 30. His role was instrumental. Afterwards he went on to become the CDS,” he remembered.
“We again invited CDS Rawat to unveil statues of Cariayappa and Thimmaiah in Gonikoppal town of Kodagu. He came down with all happiness and unveiled the statues as per the request of the Forum,” he said.
Rawat was again requested to invite the President of India, who is Commander-in-Chief of Indian Armed Forces, for the inauguration of the General Thimmaiah museum. “Late Rawat had asked us to write a letter when everything was ready. When we wrote a letter to him in this regard, within 24 hours he got back to us and with confirmation from the President of India,” he stated.
He came along with President Ram Nath Kovind. When he came he had a gift for us. “It was a copy of the letter from Lord Mountbatten to Lieutenant General Chibbar. It was written in the letter that General Thimmaiah should be made CDS in the year 1961,” he said.
“Rawat shared a special love and bond with Kodagu. His father served in the Gorkha regiment. Lieutenant General Somanna from Kodagu also served in that regiment. Rawat visited Somanna’s house in Kodagu. His father and General B.C. Nanda (who also hails from Kodagu) were good friends. Rawat was close to Nanda also,” Nanjappa said.
“Late Rawat had passed out of the academy, three years later I passed out. He was very affectionate towards me, he helped us,” he remembered.
Kodagu is a land of brave Indian army soldiers. All Chiefs of the Indian Army have responded positively, but Rawat had special bonding with the place. “We think it is a conspiracy by two countries. The Taiwan army chief was also killed in a helicopter crash. A high-level investigation should be conducted by the Special Investigating Team (SIT). The politicians from our country go to our enemy country and sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them, these things are bound to happen. We feel it is a conspiracy,” he reiterated.