Congo, Pakistan, and the Indian Army Chief imbroglio
09 Jan 2012
The scandalous conduct of some Indian members of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Congo, under the command of the then Major General Bikram Singh, may translate into major embarrassment for India at various international forums if the government abides by a covert ‘line of succession’ hinted by the Attorney General in his rather vacuous ‘opinion’ on the matter.
Islamabad (with helpful nudges from Beijing and other capitals reworking their ‘interests’ in the Asia-Pacific region) can be expected to exploit all propaganda about human rights violations in India – particularly in Jammu and Kashmir – to the hilt.
New Delhi should, in the circumstances, consider if the J&K Government’s decision to demand and continue to push for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the State has been externally inspired by forces hoping to take advantage of Indian discomfort in the human rights arena.
Pertinent in connection with the ‘line of succession’ school of thought is the fact that the next in the line of succession, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, has a Pakistani daughter-in-law. While the lady may now be a naturalized Indian citizen (like Congress president Sonia Gandhi), the fact remains that Lt Gen Bikram Singh has had Pakistani relatives at critical phases of his service, and will continue to have Pakistani relatives at the peak of his career and beyond. This is not to cast any aspersions on the highly respected soldier, but it would be an understatement to say that the issue is causing grave concern in many quarters.
The Centre would in fact do well to review its whimsical policy on the matter of officers of the diplomatic and military services having foreign wives/spouses. In an era when the intelligence agencies of major nations are actively pursuing their strategic goals, the presence of foreign spouses entrenched in establishments where they have official duties is most undesirable.
As for Congo, it is a blot on the Indian Army’s glorious tradition of valour and gallantry in foreign lands, especially in UN Peacekeeping Missions. In 2007-08, the UN complained of the 6 Sikh Battalion fathering children with “distinctive Indian features,” which were reportedly confirmed by DNA tests conducted by UN in Durla, Congo. The allegations of misconduct cover 12 officers and 39 jawans, who reportedly paid minor girls in North Kivu for sex. The Congolese government further alleged that some Indian peacekeepers, instead of helping to protect civilians from violent militias, fraternized with rebel Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda.
The matter now rests with an army court of inquiry (CoI) in Meerut, which will share its findings with the UN as per rules. Army sources say a separate inquiry is going on against the unit’s commanding officer for failure to maintain discipline.
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UN: Tackle Wrongdoing by Peacekeepers
How was Gold and Ivory Smuggled? Through diplomatic bags and cipher couriers? In connivance with unscrupulous MoD bureaucrats and Army Brass- earlier 2 chiefs are accountable? The enquiries will make a scapegoat of a few down the rung "Jawans". The real culprits who smuggled and made illegal money will go Scot free! The Commanding Officer and senior Commanders- The so called UN Peace Keepers must be brought to book. A committee comprising a Brigadier and two Colonels had been tasked to investigate 6th Sikh Battalion. UN has reported involvement of Indian contingents in sexual abuse not only in Congo but also in Sudan, Liberia, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. Other than that, Indian soldiers have been involved in smuggling of narcotics and weapons. What is the outcome of the enquiry?
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