Ex DGMO of Indian Army, Lt Gen (Retd) Shankar Prasad, who is also a writer and defense analyst while commenting on the killing of Bipin Rawat in his blog wrote: “This unfortunate episode has cost India not only a visionary military commander but also given birth to many questions that shall continue to haunt over the years owing to the murky circumstances surrounding the whole affair.”
He said, “Mi-17V5 is an extremely reliable helicopter which has served with distinction in its service since India received the first unit. Its advanced technology as a medium lift helicopter and the excellent safety record is what makes it suitable for VVIP transportation. Furthermore, only highly experienced pilots and technicians are detailed for operating such aircrafts. In this purview, the odds of a mechanical error are astronomical.”
He also ruled out the weather factor saying that “Our skilled aviators are very much capable of operating in weather conditions far more challenging than mere CTHT (Cloud touching Hill Top) especially with aid of advanced avionics on board the Mi-17V5. Furthermore the readers, who are familiar with such high profile movements, must be aware of the stringent checks involved before the aircraft is given permission to take off. Any VVIP movement is cleared to proceed after going through weather clearance, operational clearance, air defense clearance, security clearance, FIC (Flight Info Clearance) etc. Even the local law enforcement agencies are taken on board prior to take-off.”
Then the General drew the conclusion in these words: “So was it Pilot error, mechanical failure or something more sinister? The fact that reforms planned and carried out by CDS Gen Rawat ruffled many feathers and brought out the ugly inter-services rivalry laundry in public is not a secret. Is it possible that the disaster we all witnessed was man-made, by the resentful black-sheeps within the armed forces fraternity?”
Ex Indian DGMO also referred to a recent statement of Gen Bipin Rawat wherein he had said that Indian Air Force was a supporting arm and not a fighting arm itself. He was rebuked publicly by IAF chief and was told that Air Force was an instrument of power in itself. “This public clash exposed deep differences between the tri services over the concept of theatre commands. IAF and IN had always feared that they will be limited to subordinate services and brought under army command through this system,” Parsad wrote.
He further wrote: “The biggest proponent of the model was Gen Bipin Rawat who was made the 1st CDS of India despite opposition from other services. Just 2 weeks ago Rawat had given final deadline to IAF and IN on operationalization of theatre commands.”
“Now Gen Rawat is dead, Shankar Prasad said, “and so is his idea of theatre commands. Interestingly in a Chopper carrying 14 people only Group Captian Varun Singh was an Air Force officer the rest were all from the army and the Group Captain has survived. Was it an assassination having roots in tri services rivalry, did IAF which had resisted appointment of a CDS since 1999 finally strike, did the long silence have a reason. Maybe we will know in due course.
A Twitter handler Adil Raja while sharing a letter of Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote that war within Indian establishment after an unwanted appointment of Chief of Defense Staff was quiet evident.