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Mes collegues indiens....


Mes collegues indiens....

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Rotting Olives, Outlook weekly (New Delhi). [News Story]. Omair
Ahmad 06/02/2008. Corrupt Indian peacekeepers in the Congo are
marring a legacy

Piece By Piece
A UN investigation has corroborated allegations of serious corruption
by the Indian Peacekeeping Force in the Congo

Of the 44 allegations, the six corroborated include selling arms, food
and US dollars with rebel militias for contraband ivory and gold

UN assignments are much sought after by Indian army officers, with
monthly salaries upwards of $2,200, in addition to generous allowances
and perks

Indians peacekeepers have so far been favoured by the UN because of
their reputation for professionalism, discipline and honesty, and
their experience of working in conflict areas like the Northeast and
Jammu and Kashmir

With many civil wars in Africa now fuelled by blood diamonds (those
which are mined in war zones), gold and gems, peacekeepers now have
many opportunities to make a fortune through dirty deals with corrupt

A "strictly confidential" UN report has sent shock waves down the
Indian military establishment.

It has accused Indian peacekeepers serving in the Congo, including a
brigadier, of corrupt deals with rebel militias, exchanging US
dollars, food rations and ammunition for gold and ivory. In one
particularly damning case, they are alleged to have flown food and
ammunition by helicopter into a national park, and flown out with
contraband ivory. Another case has an ironic twist: the Indian
peacekeepers, on being fobbed off by a rebel militia member with
counterfeit gold in exchange for dollars, hunted him down and jailed
him in their compound where, he alleges, he was physically and
sexually abused. The report further claims the Indian lieutenant
colonel in charge of the camp permitted his release only when other
militia members paid back the $480 dollars the Indian peacekeepers had
given them for the gold.

These are just two of the 44 allegations made against Indian
peacekeeping forces, of which six have been corroborated through a
special probe by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services. The
current allegations are in stark contrast to the high reputation
Indian troops have enjoyed internationally ever since they went on
their first peacekeeping mission to the Congo in the early 1960s.

Maj Gen Ashok Mehta, who served with that force, recalls they were the
best and the brightest of the Indian army, "our most decorated
soldiers, including two who had won the Victoria Cross". By sending
its best, India was making a point about its commitment to UN
peacekeeping, he notes.

That commitment to peacekeeping missions remains high—currently India
provides 8,964 personnel for peacekeeping operations around the world,
the largest number sent by any country after Bangladesh and Pakistan.
And Indian troops are in demand because of their reputation for
professionalism. A UN peacekeeping assignment is much sought after in
the Indian army. Selection for this one-year assignment is intensely
competitive since it puts an army officer on the fast track in his
career, apart from giving him a very handsome paypacket—upwards of
$2,200 a month for an officer and $1,100 for a jawan, in addition to
other generous allowances and perks. Of the 80,000-plus troops India
has sent for such missions since '48, only one has ever been charged
with misconduct, and he was immediately court-martialled and dismissed
by the Indian military. That proud reputation is now seriously

Lt Gen R.K. Mehta, who served as the military advisor to the UN from
February 2005 to May '07, says that while many officers and even full
battalions from other countries have been sent back in disgrace,
Indian troops have until now won praise. "Their deployment in places
like the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir has taught our military how
to handle complex situations.


"In the '60s, the Indian army sent its best and brightest. We were
making a point about our commitment to the UN." Ashok Mehta, Retired
major general


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