India presents six horses to Bangladesh army

February 25th, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) India Monday presented six horses valued at a little over Rs.35 million ($850,000) to the Bangladesh army as a token of goodwill and friendship. The Indian Army chief, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, handed over the reigns of the two stallions and four mares to his Bangladesh counterpart Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed, who began a six-day visit to the country Monday.

The presentation of the horses followed a guard of honour for the visiting dignitary and his laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial to the unknown soldier at India Gate.

According to an official source, Ahmed’s visit, the first ever by a Bangladeshi army chief, is “an attempt to build bridges, to move forward in persuading Bangladesh to stop supporting anti-India insurgent groups that are operating from its soil”.

“In the last four or five years, there has been an engagement of a positive nature, but there have been no concrete achievements. We need to turn that around,” the source told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Even more worrisome than the anti-India groups are the operations of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI) extremist group. India blames the HuJI that was established in 1992, reportedly with assistance from Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front, for two sets of blasts in Hyderabad last year.

“The activities of the ISI and the HuJI will also figure in the discussions with Ahmed,” the source said.

Apart from Kapoor, Ahmed will call on Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major.

Ahmed is also scheduled to visit the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun and other Army institutions during his visit to India.

Speaking about the horses, Lt. Gen. Narayan Mohanty, who heads the Indian Army’s Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC), said they would be used for breeding and helping to improve the standard of equestrian sports in Bangladesh.

“Their offspring will be trained in show jumping and other equestrian sports,” Mohanty told reporters here.

The horses have been bred at the RVC’s equine breeding farms at Hissar in Haryana and Babugarh in Uttar Pradesh, both an hour’s drive from Delhi.

Each of the stallions is worth Rs.10 million, while each mare is valued at Rs.4 million.

Interestingly, one of the stallions - Valiant - is the fourth generation offspring of a horse named Sumrak that the then Soviet government presented to India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The horses will be taken by truck to the Bangladesh border, where they will be handed over to the authorities there.

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