While the entire country is mourning the death of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, the grief of the people of Agra is two-fold.
The city lost its son, Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, who was flying the helicopter that crashed in Tamil Nadu with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and 12 other people on board.
Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, 42, was posted at the Indian Air Force Station in Coimbatore but he was born and raised in Agra. His parents still reside in the Saran Nagar area.
Soon after the tragic news broke, relatives and old friends started gathering at Prithvi Singh Chauhan’s old home, shock and sorrow weighing heavy in their hearts.
FAMILY IN MOURNING
Surendra Singh’s eyes filled with tears while talking about his son Prithvi Singh Chauhan. The 72-year-old, who made the famous ‘beta bread’ in Agra, said the Air Force officer was the youngest of his five children and the only son. He came to know of his loss when his son’s wife Kamini called him with the sad news.
Mother Sushila Devi said the IAF had yet to personally intimate them of their son’s death. She said her eldest daughter, who lives in Mumbai, saw news of the helicopter crash on TV in the afternoon. She called her brother Prithvi on his mobile phone but he did not answer. She next contacted her sister-in-law Kamini, who confirmed her worst fears — Prithvi had died in the accident.
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AN ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER
Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan’s military career began with his selection in the elite National Defence Academy (NDA). After passing out with flying colours, he joined the Indian Air Force in 2000.
His first posting was in Hyderabad. After this, he was posted at other Air Force stations including Gorakhpur, Guwahati, Udham Singh Nagar, Jamnagar, Andaman and Nicobar. He was also sent to Sudan for one year of special training.
He became a commissioned officer on 22 June, 2002 and was promoted to Wing Commander in the year 2015.
Presently, he was the Commanding Officer of the 109 helicopter unit at the Air Force Station in Coimbatore.
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On Wednesday, he was piloting the ill-fated IAF Mi 17 V5 chopper that had taken off from the Sulur Airbase for Wellington. Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, his DA Brigadier LS Lidder, SO Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh and other defence officials were among the 14 people on board.
The Indian Air Force has confirmed that 13 of the 14 occupants, including Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and pilot Prithvi Singh Chauhan, died in a crash near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan is survived by his wife Kamini, daughter Aaradhya (12) and son Aviraj (9).
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