Group Capt Varun Singh succumbs to injuries

New Delhi, Dec 15 (PTI): Decorated air warrior Group Captain Varun Singh died at a military hospital in Bengaluru on Wednesday, a week after he was seriously injured in the chopper crash near Coonoor that killed CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 armed forces personnel.
The Indian Air Force said the ‘braveheart’ Group Captain succumbed to his injuries this morning.
“IAF is deeply saddened to inform the passing away of braveheart Group Captain Varun Singh, who succumbed this morning to the injuries sustained in the helicopter accident on 08 Dec 21. IAF offers sincere condolences and stands firmly with the bereaved family,” it said on Twitter.
In August, Group Captain Singh was conferred with the Shaurya Chakra, India’s third highest peacetime gallantry award after the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra, for displaying exemplary composure and skill when his Tejas aircraft developed a technical snag during a sortie in October last year. The 39-year-old Group Captain, who was known to be an excellent test pilot, is survived by an 11-year-old son, an eight-year-old daughter, and his wife. His father, Colonel (retd) KP Singh, had served in the Army Air Defence (AAD).
The Group Captain’s family originally hails from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh and now lives in Bhopal.
He was admitted to a hospital in Wellington in Tamil Nadu with severe burn injuries on Wednesday last following the Mi-17V5 helicopter crash. A day later, he was shifted to the Command Hospital in Bengaluru from Wellington.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish at the passing away of Group Captain Singh, and said his rich service to the nation will never be forgotten.
“Group Captain Varun Singh served the nation with pride, valour and utmost professionalism. I am extremely anguished by his passing away. His rich service to the nation will never be forgotten. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” Modi tweeted.
Describing the Group Captain as a “true fighter”, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he fought till his last breath.
“Pained beyond words to learn of the demise of IAF pilot, Group Captain Varun Singh. He was a true fighter who fought till his last breath. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and friends. We stand firmly with the family in this hour of grief,” he said.
Group Captain Singh was on board the ill-fated Russian-made chopper as the liaison officer for the visit of Gen Rawat, India’s senior-most military officer, to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington.
He was serving as an instructor at the prestigious institute for the last six months after a stint in the Tejas squadron.
Group Captain Singh received Gen Rawat at the Sulur airbase from where the entourage was heading towards Wellington in the chopper that crashed.
His Shaurya Chakra award citation said despite being in extreme physical and mental stress in a life-threatening situation, he maintained exemplary composure and recovered the aircraft, exhibiting exceptional flying skill.
“Faced with a potential hazard to his own life, he displayed extraordinary courage and skill to control and safely land the fighter aircraft saving hundreds of crore,” it said.
“The pilot went beyond the call of duty and landed the aircraft taking calculated risks. This allowed an accurate analysis of fault on the indigenously designed fighter and further institution of preventive measures against recurrence,” it said.
Asked about his last rites, officials said the details will be finalised as per the wishes of his family.

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