Indian Army acts against three Congo UN peacekeepers

July 14th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) The Indian Army has taken disciplinary action against three of its UN peacekeepers in the Congo for their “aberrant behaviour”, it was announced here Monday. After the “aberrant behaviour” came to light, the Indian Army “recalled the concerned individuals and ordered detailed investigations” headed by an officer of three-star rank, an Indian Army statement said.

“Subsequent to the investigations, disciplinary action against the three Indian peacekeepers have been initiated under the provisions of the Army Act,” the statement added.

The statement was headlined “Clarification regarding disciplinary action against Congo defaulters” but turned out to be an admission of guilt on the part of the three Indian Army personnel, comprising two offices and a soldier.

The army had hitherto kept the details of the investigations and the action taken against the trio under wraps.

Detailing the “aberrant behaviour”, the statement said its genesis lay in a soldier of the Indian peacekeeping contingent “being lured into purchasing a small quantity of counterfeit gold dust and thus being cheated by an anti-social person.

“Investigations have revealed that the concerned soldier with his immediate superior officer, on becoming aware of having been cheated, detained the cheat to recover the soldier’s money.

“Irrespective of the gravity of the incident, it may be noted that the Indian Army recalled the concerned individuals” and had taken action against them, the statement added.

The incident had come to light during a larger probe into allegations that members of the Indian contingent had run guns and peddled drugs to the warring factions in the Congo.

The probe, and another one committed by the UN, had cleared the Indian contingent of any wrongdoing, the statement said.

“In light of periodic reports in sections of the media which have sought to undermine professional and ethical behaviour of the Indian peacekeepers in Congo, it is considered essential to place the facts in correct perspective lest mischievous designs of some parties with vested interests should go unchallenged and to ensure that the truth prevails,” the preface to the statement said.

“The media reports have emanated from Congo based upon various allegations levelled by either un-named sources or by individuals of doubtful credibility, against the Indian peacekeepers of indulging in ‘gold smuggling’, ‘trading arms with the rebels’, ‘refusing to conduct operations against armed rebels and even of ’sexual exploitation’ of locals,” the statement said.

“It needs to be noted that besides all allegations being investigated by the… UN, the Indian Army has zero tolerance for any acts of omission or commission by its peacekeepers which violate its code of professional ethics.

“Accordingly, irrespective of the seriousness or frivolousness of allegations, the Indian Army subjects each allegation to a detailed and institutionalized process of investigations which, without fail, are pursued till their logical conclusion,” the statement added.

“The fact that all allegations were found to be false and baseless by the… UN, should be indicative of the ulterior motives of those elements who have worked hard to invent them and surreptitiously planted them through sections of the media,” the statement maintained.

“The Indian Army reiterates its unfailing commitment to highest standards of professional conduct and ethical behaviour. The Indian peacekeepers’ contribution to restoring peace and stability in all UN missions, including in the Congo, has always been laudable, and by far, the most substantial.

“This understandably, has not always been to the liking of fringe elements who may have stakes in continued state of hostility and instability,” the statement contended.

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