As the nation bid the final farewell to armed forces power couple -- Gen Bipin Rawat and Madhulika Rawat -- her brother on Friday emotionally recalled the events that led to their matrimonial alliance 35 years ago. Yash Vardhan Singh, the brother-in-law of Gen Rawat, said fate had brought them together and fate took them away from both at the same time.
"It was actually his father (Laxman Singh Rawat), who was also an army officer, who had sought the hand of my sister for his son (Bipin Rawat). He wrote to my father late Mrigendra Singh and that's how the marriage talks began," he said. Yash Vardhan Singh's ancestral family hails from Sohagpur in Shahdol district in Madhya Pradesh.
"Our 'nanaji' lived in Lucknow and that is where my sister was born in the 1960s. Incidentally, the address of her place of birth was '25, Ashoka Marg' and she got married in Delhi at '25 Ashoka Road'. Isn't it a pleasant coincidence," he told PTI.
Singh, born in 1966, along with his daughter, Bandhvi Singh, a national-level shooting player, were present at the official residence of the Chief of Defence Staff in Delhi where mortal remains of Gen Rawat and Madhulika Rawat were kept for people to pay their respects.
Their cremation took place took place at Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment, two days after they were killed with 11 others, all from the armed forces, in a helicopter crash in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
Madhulika Rawat's younger brother recalled the marriage that had taken place 35 years ago. "The year was 1986. And, Gen Rawat then held the rank of Captain and was posted in Dehradun. Such fond memories, and now cruel fate has snatched my sister, and my brother-in-law from us," Yash Vardhan Singh said.
Bandhvi, a history graduate from St Stephen's College, Delhi University, said she reached Delhi late last night to be with the family. "I somehow completed my rifle shooting competition in Bhopal. Images of 'phua-phupha' (Gen Rawat and Madhulika Rawat) were flashing in my head. But, my 'phuphaji' (Gen Rawat) had always inspired me to be a fighter," she told PTI.
Bandhvi, who will turn 21 on December 18, recalled the time she had spent with him a few months ago at Gen Rawat's official bungalow.
"I had returned from Peru after taking part in the world shooting championship. And, it was Dussehra time. And, 'phuphaji' (Gen Rawat) took me to the Dusshera festivities as observed by Gorkha Regiment soldiers. And, as I shoot a rifle as a sport, he wanted me to get blessings of the Goddess," she recalled. "All of these memories, I will cherish now," she said.
An alumnus of St Edward School, Shimla, and the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, he was commissioned into the 11th Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in December 1978.
Recalling, Gen Rawat's personality, Bandhvi said, "He spoke, not much, among us, but through his gestures taught us a lot". Gen. Rawat assumed charge as Chief of Army Staff in December 2016. And, was appointed the first CDS on December 31, 2019.