India has launched a virtual Memorial Wall to honour its soldiers who laid down their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping operations, a precursor to the eventual construction of a permanent memorial wall at the world body’s headquarters proposed by the country.
The wall was unveiled by India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji at a solemn ceremony to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers here yesterday.
The wall of honour includes details of 161 Indian peacekeepers who were killed in the line of duty in 16 UN Peacekeeping Missions so far. The wall will be hosted on the website of the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.
The initiative is a precursor to the eventual construction of a UN Peacekeepers Memorial Wall on the premises of the UN headquarters, a proposal given by India “as an appropriate way to commemorate all the troops from member states of the United Nations who had given their lives while on duty under the Blue Flag of the United Nations,” the Mission said.
The proposal for the Memorial Wall has been recommended by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and is under consideration in the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee as a part of draft proposals.
Mukerji also paid homage to the 126 UN military, police and civilian personnel who were posthumously awarded the prestigious Dag Hammarskjold Medal this year for their supreme sacrifice in various peacekeeping operations in 2014.
Two Indians – Lance Naik Nand Ram, who served with the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Raju Joseph, who had served in a civilian capacity with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were among those awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal.
Mukerji welcomed uniformed personnel from across the world and read out External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s message on the UN’s commemoration of International Day of Peacekeepers.
In her message, Swaraj had said that the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations was an “important year” in which “the invaluable contribution made by UN peacekeepers through the history of the organisation should be well recognised.”
The ceremony was attended by Under Secretary General for Field Support Atul Khare along with Under Secretary General for Department of Peace Keeping Operations Herve Ladsous, both of whom paid glowing tributes to the sacrifices made by Indian peacekeepers in UN peacekeeping operations.
As part of the commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, a medal parade was held for military and police officers serving with the Department of Peacekeeping operations at UN headquarters.
Three Indian military officers and a police officer – Lt Col Bharat Sirohi, Lt Col Rajneesh Duseja, Lt Col Bharat Bhalla, and Deputy Inspector General PS Knegi – were among those awarded the medal for their service.