Indian defense chief cremated at televised military funeral


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New Delhi (AFP) – The flag-wrapped coffin of the Indian defense chief was towed through the streets of New Delhi on a cannon carriage draped in garlands of flowers before being cremated on Friday.

General Bipin Rawat, 63, was killed along with his wife and 11 soldiers when their helicopter crashed on Wednesday.

He and his wife were cremated together at the same pyre, with a 17-gun salute as their daughters set him on fire.

Rawat was India’s first Chief of Defense Staff, a post created for him, and an outspoken, polarizing and popular officer considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India granted him full military honors for his funeral, the gun carriage carrying his remains towed by an armored vehicle and escorted by lines of security personnel.

Locals lined the road waving the Indian flag chanting and chanting “Hail, mother of India” or “Rawat will stay as long as there is a sun and a moon”.

The procession and ceremony were broadcast live by several television stations with presenters calling Rawat a “real soldier” receiving the “final salute”.

The Indian Air Force said on Friday it had opened a three-service investigation into the crash near a staff college in Tamil Nadu state in the south of the country. There was only one survivor.

“The investigation would be completed quickly and the facts disclosed,” tweeted the air force.

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