On 1st January when General Bipin Rawat walks into the wood-panelled office of the Army Chief in the South Block office overlooking Rajpath where photographs of former chiefs hang in sequence, he would be walking a path that his father too was very familiar with. General Rawat's father General Lakshman Singh Rawat (retd.) hung his boots as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff in 1988.
Born in November 1930, General Lakshman Singh Rawat was commissioned into the 3/11 Gurkha Regiment in 1951. He would go to command the 5/11 Gorkha's – the regiment that General Bipin Rawat would join in 1978 and later command.
General Laksham Singh Rawat would see the 1962 India-China war and 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war, and Operation Meghdoot – the operation to take Siachen- among many other mile-stone events.
Major General Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, former Chief Minister of Uttrakhand now member of Parliament vividly remembers the senior General Rawat. "I was a colonel and was posted in the Army Headquarters when General Rawat too was there. He was a very fine soldier and very fine gentleman," he said.
Among other things that father and son have in common is the Baramullaha based 19 div. Senior General Rawat and General Bipin Rawat would both command the 19 div. Senior General Rawat would go on to command the Bhatinda based 10 crops whereas General Bipin Rawat would command the Dimapur based III corps. Father and son duo would again cross paths at the Pune-based Southern Command. General Lakshaman Singh Rawat was Chief of Staff of Southern Command. General Bipin Rawat would command Southern Command before becoming Vice Chief of Army Staff.
In a twist of fate, on 3 Feb 2015, General Bipin Rawat would survive a helicopter crash. The single engine helicopter he was flying would crash minutes after it took off from Dimapur, Nagaland. Senior General Rawat would pass away on February 11.
Second and third generation officers are common in the military. But perhaps for the first time, the son of the former Deputy Chief will go on to lead the 1.3 million strong Indian Army.
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