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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Indian soldiers die in South Sudan.....


As a patriotic Indian, do you remember Operation Poomalai and invaluable soldiers lost in the operation….  now Jonglei is in news for wrong reasons. 

I had posted on 9th July 2011 of the birth of a new Nation – South Sudan. Jonglei is one of the ten states of South Sudan. It is the largest state by area; Jonglei seceded from Sudan as part of the Republic of South Sudan on 9 July 2011. Juba is the Capital of the newest Country of the World – the Republic of South Sudan. Located on the White Nile river, it is also the capital of Central Equatoria, the smallest of the ten states of South Sudan. The birth of the newest of the Nations arose out of a referendum  held from 9–15 January 2011 to determine if South Sudan should declare its independence from Sudan.

The Republic of South Sudan is a country in East Africa. The landlocked country is bordered by Ethiopia to the east, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Central African Republic to the west and Sudan to the north. South Sudan includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd formed by the White Nile, locally called the Bahr al Jebel.  South Sudan is composed of more than 200 ethnic groups and is, along with the adjacent Nuba Hills, one of the most linguistically diverse regions of Africa. South Sudan is full of jungles and swamps, while the north is mostly desert.  Religion is a great divider - most northerners are Arabic-speaking Muslims, while the south is made up of numerous different ethnic groups who are mostly Christian or follow traditional religions.   Apart from  the erstwhile Nation’s debt there is lot of conflict.

The bad news is that Five Indian Army soldiers including a lieutenant colonel were killed and five including an officer were wounded today in South Sudan when they were escorting an UN convoy in the trouble-torn African nation. The soldiers were attacked in Jonglei, a province where an Indian Army battalion is deployed to assist the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).  First post reports that the  convoy that came under attack consisted of 32 Indian soldiers. Along with the officer, a junior commissioned officer and three soldiers lost their lives in the attack.

Army sources said the convoy was led by two officers and soldiers from 9 Mechanised Infantry battalion and 6 Mahar Regiment was escorting a convoy of UN vehicles from Gurmuck to Bor in South Sudan when a suspected militia group attacked it with small arms and Rocket-propelled Grenades (RPGs). The firefight between the Indian troops and the militia group continued for more than one hour in which the one officer, one JCO and three jawans were killed.
The personnel killed in the incident were Lt Col Mahipal Singh, Havaldars Heera Lal and Bharat Sasmal from 9 Mechanised Infantry and Naib Subedar Shiv Kumar Pal and Sipahi Naval Kishore from 6 Mahar.

There are two infantry battalions of the Indian Army consisting of around 2,200 soldiers deployed in South Sudan. The second battalion is based in Malakal. As a major contributor to UN peacekeeping forces around the world India has suffered losses in the past. In 2010, rebels hacked to death three Indians in their camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Jonglei has been the scene of widespread ethnic conflict since South Sudan became independent.

Apart from providing peacekeepers, India also has significant economic assets in the two countries. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Ltd (OVL) has a stake in South Sudan’s oil fields. It has constructed and financed a 741-km pipeline in the north from the Khartoum refinery to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Remember that way back in 1987, the India-Sri Lanka Accord (ISLA) was signed by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Junius Jayawardene to end the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka peacefully. India willy-nilly became the guarantor for the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) disarming the LTTE in lieu of Sri Lanka devolving power to the minority Tamils. Invited by Sri Lanka, IPKF became the instrument for implementing ISLA. Two and a half years after the accord, with 1200 soldiers lost and nearly 2500 wounded, the IPKF was unceremoniously withdrawn with ISLA in tatters.  Operation Poomalai or Eagle Mission 4 was the codename assigned to a mission undertaken by the Indian Air Force to air-drop supplies over the besieged town of Jaffna in Sri Lanka on 4 June 1987 in support of Tamil Tigers during the Sri Lankan Civil War.

Sad that Indian soldiers got killed fighting for causes where they have no role.  Nation should mourn the death of the unsung heroes and provide all benefits to their families.  Jai Jawan..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
10th April 2013.
News source : www.firstpost.com

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