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(It’s the International Day of UN Peacekeepers! India has been a key force in peacekeeping troops, and to commemorate the day, The Quint is republishing this piece from its archives. Originally published on 29 May 2018.)
Since 1950, India has participated in at least 50 United Nations Peacekeeping Missions. India is the largest contributor with 2,00,000 troops deployed so far in these operations.
Let’s Rewind to 1950...
On International Day of UN Peacekeepers, here’s a look back at some of India’s major contributions.
- Korean War (November 1950 – July 1954): India deployed the 60th Indian Field Ambulance, a parachute-trained medical unit comprising 17 officers, nine junior commissioned officers (JCO) and 300 jawans in the Korean War. The unit was awarded the President's Trophy on 10 March 1955 by the then president of India Dr Rajendra Prasad. This is the only mission to be awarded the President's Trophy till date.
- Indo-China (1954 – 1970): India deployed an infantry battalion and supporting staff during the crisis in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The mission included monitoring, ceasefire and repatriation of prisoners of war. As many as 970 officers, 140 JCOs, and 6,157 jawans were deployed.
- Middle East (1956 – 1967): India was part of the United Nations Emergency Force. For the first time, armed troop contingents were deployed. Over a period of 11 years, 393 officers, 409 JCOs and 12,383 jawans were deployed in the operations.
- Mission UNOC, Congo (1960 – 1964): Two infantry brigades composed of 467 officers, 401 JCOs and 11354 jawans participated in this peacekeeping mission. A flight of six Canberra Bomber aircrafts of the Indian Airforce were also deployed.
- Mission UNTAC, Cambodia (1992 –1993): India participated in the United Nations Transitional Authority In Cambodia, set up to supervise ceasefire, disarm combatants, repatriate refugees and conduct free and fair elections. As many as 1,373 peacekeepers were deployed.
- Mission UNITAF, Somalia (1993–1994): The Indian Navy and the Indian Army actively participated in the operation. Indian Army deployed 5,000 personnel, while the navy deployed four warships.
India’s Current Contributions
- Mission UNIFIL - Lebanon (Since December 1998): India has deployed one infantry battalion group, Level II Hospital comprising 673 peacekeepers, till date. The mission is currently tense due to the Syrian crisis.
- Mission UNOCI – Ivory Coast (Since April 2004): India deployed two infantry battalion groups, sector HQ, engineer company, signal company, Level-II Hospital and a large number of military observers and staff officers.
- Mission MONUSCO–Congo (Since January 2005): India deployed an extended Chapter VII mandate with Augmented Infantry Brigade Group (four infantry battalions with level III Hospital), army aviation contingent with utility helicopters, along with a large number of military observers. In addition, two Formed Police Units have also been deployed since 2009.
- Mission UNMIS – Sudan (Since April 2005): India deployed two infantry battalion groups, sector HQ, Engineer company, signal company, Level-II Hospital and a large number of military observers and staff officers. The current situation continues to be highly volatile due to ethnic clashes.
- Mission UNMIL – Liberia (Since April 2007): India has been contributing both male and female Formed Police Units in Liberia. The Female Formed Police Unit has especially been lauded and awarded.
The Unsung Heros
- Captain Gurbachan Singh was the only UN peacekeeper to be awarded the Param Veer Chakra (posthumously). He was martyred in the Congo crisis on 5 December, 1961.
- 168 Indian soldiers have sacrificed their lives in maintaining international peace under the UN Peacekeeping missions.
- India will double the number of women peacekeepers in UN missions by 2019. Contingent of 125 Indian women peacekeepers in Liberia was lauded and awarded.
- India has provided 11 force commanders, five deputy commanders and three military advisers in UN Peacekeeping missions. Kiran Bedi was one of the two police advisers deployed by India at the UN headquarters.