The Tony I knew: Remembering Brig LS Lidder who lost his life with CDS Bipin Rawat in Coonoor helicopter crash

The career of Brig LS Lidder was on the upward trajectory till the cruel hands of destiny snatched him forever from us on 8 December 2021 in the helicopter crash in Coonoor

Lt Col JS Sodhi December 09, 2021 17:50:30 IST
The Tony I knew: Remembering Brig LS Lidder who lost his life with CDS Bipin Rawat in Coonoor helicopter crash

Brigadier LS Lidder

It was 6 pm on 31 October, 1984, the day Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated. As anti-Sikh riots broke out in various cities of the country, a lanky boy studying in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Mhow, sitting atop his black-coloured bicycle, was listening to various ladies and children standing in the inner road of the Army Officers Colony called Golf View. The topic was the carnage that was unfolding and the fear seeping into each of them.

Mhow is a quaint town near Indore, Madhya Pradesh. This young lad volunteered to go on his bicycle to Mhow City to find out about the situation firsthand. And before anyone could stop him, this boy zipped away and came back with the information, unmindful of his personal safety.

This brave boy was Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, whose nickname was Tony, and he would later in life go on to become one of the bravest and decorated officers of the Indian Army, Brig LS Lidder, SM, VSM.

Click here for General Bipin Rawat Death News LIVE Updates

My father, Maj NS Sodhi, had got posted to Mhow in early 1984 and in June that year, we shifted to Golf View after staying for a few months in temporary married accommodation called Karbala Lines in Mhow. It was in Golf View that I first met Tony as his father, Lt Col Mehnga Singh, and family stayed in a block opposite ours. Tony was one year senior to me in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Mhow.

Tony was a bright and brilliant student who cleared the tough National Defence Academy entrance exam on the very first attempt. He joined the 77th NDA Course in January 1987 and was allotted India Squadron.

A year later I joined NDA, Khadakwasla, as part of 79 NDA Course and I was in Foxtrot Squadron. During those times the junior-most term in NDA, Khadakwasla was the Second Term as the First Term used to be in the solitary confines of NDA Wing, Ghorpuri, Pune, which was 21 km from the main NDA in Khadakwasla.

The Second Term in those days was very hectic and strenuous. After a few weeks of joining the Second Term, when I got a free Sunday, I went to meet Tony in India Squadron.

Tony told me to sleep and rest in his bed as he was going on Liberty to Pune City a little later in the day. As I slept in his bed, I suddenly sensed some sensation in my feet. I woke up to see Tony cleaning my feet with hot water and Dettol as he had seen a few blisters on my feet while I was asleep. I was deeply touched by this gesture of his and my eyes turned moist for what he did for me. Only a good and genuine person could do this.

Lakhbinder Singh Lidder did extremely well during the training in NDA and in the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. He held the appointment of the Cadet Sergeant Major (CSM) of Alamein Company in IMA during the Third Term.

In December 1990, 2/Lt LS Lidder was commissioned in the Second Battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, also known as 2 JAK RIF (BODYGUARD). The JAK RIF is a decorated regiment of the infantry.

In 1992, 2 JAK RIF was inducted in the Kashmir Valley for counter-insurgency operations and was there till 1995. For this entire three-year duration, Lakhbinder was the Adjutant of the Battalion. As the Adjutant, he meticulously assisted the commanding officer in planning all Operations and took part in some of them as he was a Company Commander too in addition to being the Adjutant.

During the three-year stint in the Valley, the Battalion eliminated 250 terrorists and was awarded 150 awards for bravery and valour. Lakhbinder as the Adjutant played a pivotal role in each of these operations.

Major LS Lidder was awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry), the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation Card and the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief’s Commendation Card for his exceptional valour and bravery during this three-year tenure.

Subsequently, Lakhbinder was posted as a Squadron Commander in NDA and as the Adjutant in IMA. He went on to do the Staff Course, the Higher Command Course and the NDC Course.

Colonel LS Lidder commanded his battalion, 2 JAK RIF (BODYGUARD), in Congo as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force wherein he was awarded the Vishisht Sewa Medal (VSM) for exceptional devotion and dedication to duty. His Brigade Commander was Brigadier Bipin Rawat who would later on go to become the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India.

Having seen Brig LS Lidder work under his command in Congo, it was but natural that on becoming the CDS, Gen Bipin Rawat handpicked him to be his Defence Assistant (DA) on completion of the NDC Course from the National Defence College, New Delhi.

The career of Brig LS Lidder was on the upward trajectory till the cruel hands of destiny snatched him forever from us on 8 December 2021 in the helicopter crash in Coonoor that killed 13 people including the CDS and his wife, Madhulika Rawat.

The passing away of Brig LS Lidder is a great loss to the nation and the Indian Army, apart from being a grave personal loss to me. Had he lived, nothing could have stopped him from reaching the highest pinnacles of the Indian Army as he had everything going for him — age, excellence in all courses of instruction, being a decorated officer, foreign mission, NDC, etc. He was an approved Major General who was to become the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of an operational Division early next year, but destiny had other plans for him.

Brig LS Lidder was a very fine human who could do no wrong in life and would not hurt anyone. Such gems are very rarely met in life. My salute and respect to Brig LS Lidder. May he rest in eternal peace. Thank you, Lakhbinder, for serving our respected Motherland with utmost devotion and dedication. And thank you for being my friend.

You will be missed, Tony.

The writer retired from the Corps of Engineers who is an alumnus of NDA, Khadakwasla and IIT Kanpur. He is an MTech in Structures apart from being an MBA and an LLB. The views expressed are personal.

Read all the Latest News, Trending NewsCricket News, Bollywood News,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Updated Date:

also read

CBI books Army officer posted in Port Blair for bribery and corruption
India

CBI books Army officer posted in Port Blair for bribery and corruption

CBI has booked Army officer Lt Col Abhishek Chandra for alleged corruption and bribery from different private suppliers in connivance with field officers in procurement of ration and other material for department, canteen and stores

Post Rajnath Singh's approval, military jawans to get furnished houses, multilevel parking
India

Post Rajnath Singh's approval, military jawans to get furnished houses, multilevel parking

The approval for new scales of accommodation has come after 13 years as the last review was done in 2009 only and since then, a lot of changes have come in the lifestyle of all personnel and their families

Indian Army to buy 12 more Made-in-India 'Swathi' weapon-locating radars for China border
India

Indian Army to buy 12 more Made-in-India 'Swathi' weapon-locating radars for China border

Swathi weapon-locating radars provide fast, automatic, and accurate location of enemy weapons like mortars, shells and rockets within 50-kilometre range