Indian Army probes reports of its UN peacekeepers fathering kids in Congo

Chandigarh, June 7 (Agencies): An entire battalion of the Indian Army is in the dock after allegations in Congo that Indian peacekeepers fathered around a dozen children while posted there on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in 2008. Based on the allegations, the Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry against the 6th Sikh Battalion, which comprises 12 officers and 39 jawans. A UN probe into the matter had been inconclusive.
The CoI is being conducted at Meerut, where the 9th Infantry Division is based. The 6th Sikh Battalion is part of the 37th Infantry Brigade, which comes under the 9th Infantry Division. The CoI is being presided over by Brig. M M Masur, Cdr, 9 Artillery Brigade, and includes Col. Sunil, Deputy Commander, 32 Infantry Brigade and Col. P V Ramakrishnan, Commanding Officer, 299 Fd Regt. as members. The allegations surfaced after DNA tests commissioned by the UN in Durla, Congo, showed that the children were born with “distinctive Indian features”. The UN wrote to Army Headquarters, requesting further investigation. The latest reminder for action was sent in August 2010.
Following the UN letters, Army Headquarters wrote to Western Command in January this year asking it to inquire into the matter. The CoI was ordered on May 24. An Army official at HQ confirmed that an inquiry has been ordered. “There are some allegations and we are investigating into the issue,” the official said. “We have received a report from UN. Their inquiry into the allegations was inconclusive, that is why we are investigating the matter here.” The 6th Sikh Battalion was posted in Congo in 2008. After allegations that soldiers had sexually exploited local women, the Battalion was sent back to India and stationed at Chandimandir. In 2009, the alleged victims of the exploitation started giving birth, and the UN ordered an inquiry.
Earlier, in March 2008, allegations surfaced that three Indian officers posted at the UN Mission in Congo had sexually exploited a local woman while holidaying in South Africa. Before that, in 2007, there were allegations that Indian blue berets had exchanged food and information for gold with Rwandan rebels in Congo’s North Kivu. There were separate allegations that Indian soldiers had paid minor Congolese girls in North Kivu for sex. In most of these cases, the Army has given a clean chit to its personnel.