India’s eastern-most military garrison of Kibithu named after Gen Bipin Rawat

KIBITHU, 10 Sep: The strategically key Kibithu military garrison on the banks of the Lohit valley along the line of actual control (LAC) and a key road in this mountain hamlet were on Saturday named after India’s first chief of defence staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, around nine months after he died in a helicopter crash.

As a young colonel, Rawat commanded his battalion, the 5/11 Gorkha Rifles, in Kibithu from 1999-2000 and contributed immensely to strengthening the security structure in the area.

The military garrison looks after the LAC in the sensitive sector. Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Rima post is just opposite the Indian garrison.

Nestled in the mountainous and arduous terrain of the Lohit valley, Kibithu is located near the LAC and is the eastern-most military garrison of India.

The small hamlet is inhabited by Meyor and Jarkin tribes.

Lack of surface connectivity with the nearest road head at Meshai precluded movement to Kibithu, which was air maintained till as late as 1997. A foot suspension bridge (FSB 17) was the sole link to the eastern bank of the Lohit river.

The garrison and the 22-km-long road stretch from Walong to Kibithu were named after Gen Rawat at a ceremony attended by Governor BD Mishra, Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita, and Gen Rawat’s daughter Tarini.

Speaking on the occasion, Khandu announced a financial package of Rs 10 crore to make the garrison one of the best military stations in forward locations.

Mishra said “Gen Rawat’s contributions to strengthening the country’s defence structures are unparalleled.”

The Kibithu military camp was renamed Gen Bipin Rawat Military Garrison, wherein a grand gate built in the local traditional architectural style was inaugurated by the governor.

The 22 km road stretch from Walong to Kibithu was dedicated as Gen Bipin Rawat Marg by the chief minister.

A majestic life-size mural of Gen Rawat was also unveiled.

Gen Rawat was killed in a helicopter crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on 8 December last year, along with his wife Madhulika and 12 armed forces personnel.

Bad weather leading to a phenomenon called controlled flight into terrain was identified as the prime reason for the crash of the IAF helicopter.

Rawat was posthumously conferred India’s second-highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, early this year.

The army said Gen Rawat’s vision and foresight were instrumental in implementing the infrastructural development and ensuring societal progress in the area.

“Gen Bipin Rawat’s untimely demise in December 2021 left an irreplaceable void in the country,” the army said.

The event was attended by citizens of Kibithu and Walong.

The garrison is considered very important for its strategic location.

Kibithu was first occupied by the 2 Assam Rifles in December 1950 with one platoon. In 1959, the post was further strengthened with an additional platoon.

Kibithu endured the initial onslaught of Chinese aggression during the 1962 Sino-India war.

On the termination of the war, Kibithu was reoccupied by the 2 Assam Rifles in 1964. In 1985, the 6 Rajput took over its defences.

During his tenure, Gen Rawat significantly upgraded the garrison, synergised civil-military relations with the locals and formalised the border personnel meeting mechanism. (PTI)