Indian Peacekeepers in North Kivu Province, Congo – Veerendra Singh

The Indian Army has been contributing troops to the UN since 1950 and has participated in 46 missions the world over with 1,65,000 troops till date. In keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Army, 139 peacekeepers till date have laid down their lives in the line of duty, while serving under the UN Flag in various missions.  At present the Indian Army is contributing 7100 troops including Military Observers and Staff Officers to seven peacekeeping missions in Africa, the Middle East and in East Timor, with the largest participation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  United Nations Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) was established in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1999 in an attempt to bring peace and stability to the war torn country.  India is the largest troop contributor to the mission with over 3700 peacekeepers forming part of the Indian Brigade Group and as Military Observers and Staff Officers at various levels.

            The UN, in acknowledgement of the competence and past record of Indian Peacekeepers, gave the responsibility of the province of North Kivu, one of the most challenging areas in the country, to the Indian Brigade.  Since its deployment the Indian Brigade has ensured peace in the region and was instrumental in the successful conduct of the President elections in November – December 2011.  From the beginning of May this year, fighting between various rebel factions and the Congolese Armed Forces in the province posed a threat to life and stability in the region.  The manifestations of the threat included large scale population displacements. The Brigade promptly responded to the evolving dynamics to prevent deterioration of the security situation in the region and took great measures to restore the confidence of the locals.

            With the escalation of violence between the rebels and the Congolese Armed Forces, the Indian Brigade, undertook deployment and robust defensive action against rebel attacks in the area of responsibility for the protection of civilians.  The Indian troops supported by Attack Helicopters recently fought a 20 hours long battle on 05 and 06 July 2012 to prevent rebels from capturing the population centre of Bunagana, followed by a 12 hours intensive action on 25 July 2012 against the M-23 (rebel group) attack on Kiwanjaand Rutshuru in support of the government forces.  In keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Army and noblest facet of peacekeeping operations, on 05 July 2012 NaikKrishan Kumar of 13 SIKH LI Battalion Group laid down his life defending the population of Bunagana.  On 25 July 2012 Naik Balwinder Ram Singh, also of 13 SIKH LI was injured in action while defending Rutshuru town.

            The Indian Brigade continues to obviate threat to civilians, dominate communication and also bolster the Congolese Army deployment in pursuance of the MONUSCO mandate as laid down by the UN.

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(PIB Features.)

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