Martyred marine commando’s body to be taken home Thursday

September 23rd, 2009 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) The body of the Indian Navy marine commando (Marco) Chandrashekhar, who was killed in a gunfight with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district, will be brought to his hometown in Uttar Pradesh for last rites Thursday, a navy official said.
Petty Officer Clearance Diver-I Chandrashekhar was transferred to the marcos’ camp located on Wullar, a 65 sq km freshwater lake, in Baramulla. His mandate was to control the infiltration of terrorists from across the border to Jammu and Kashmir through Wullar Lake.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) evening terrorists attacked the marcos camp. In retaliatory fire, one terrorist was killed and one marco died,” a senior Indian Navy official said.

“His body will be brought home to Muzaffarnagar tomorrow (Thursday) for cremation. Another marco was injured in the gunfight,” he said.

Chandrashekhar is survived by his wife and two children.

Sporting long beards and toting AK-47 assault rifles, marcos can be mistaken for militants and they follow in letter and spirit the adage of the counter-terrorism doctrine: ‘Fight a militant like a militant’.

Dubbed as the ‘bearded force’ by the militants, Marcos have a knack of executing covert operations. They were called in along with National Security Guards (NSG) and army commandos to fight armed militants holed up inside two luxury hotels in Mumbai last year.

Officially known as the Indian Marine Special Force, the unit was raised in 1987 out of the naval divers to lead amphibious operations. The personnel volunteering for the force have to undergo a rigorous two-year training, by the end of which only 10-25 percent of the enrolled commandos remain.

Marcos have been active in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the army’s counter-terrorist efforts. Their main task is to control the infiltration of terrorists from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir through Jhelum river and Wullar Lake.

Some Marcos personnel are also attached to the army special forces units conducting counter-terrorism operations in the area.

“They operate similar to the Israeli Mistaravim units sporting beards and wearing ‘pheren’ (Kashmiri suit), thus making them indistinguishable from the locals,” another navy official added.

The Marcos have gained a fearsome reputation among terrorists who refer to them as the Dadhiwali Fauj (bearded army) since Marcos are the only non-Sikh personnel allowed to grow beards, or ‘Jal Murgi’ (water hens) for the speed in which they assault from the water and even ‘Magarmachh’ (crocodiles) for their amphibious capability.

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