Four Indian peacekeepers, who laid down their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping operations, were honoured on Thursday along with 124 other military, police and civilian personnel with a prestigious UN medal awarded posthumously for their sacrifice in the line of duty.
The fallen Indian peacekeepers who received the Dag Hammarskjold Medal on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers are Head Constable Shubhkaran Yadav, Rifleman Manish Malik, Havildar Amal Deka and Naik Rakesh Kumar.
Yadav, serving in the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) gave the supreme sacrifice in April 2015 and Malik, also serving in the same mission, died in August.
Deka, serving in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) died in June 2015 and Kumar serving in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) died in January 2015.
Gagan Punjabi, serving in MONUSCO in a civilian capacity under the UN Volunteers program, died in an incident in January last year.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began the commemoration of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, observed annually on May 29, here by laying a wreath to honour all fallen peacekeepers.
He then awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal posthumously to 129 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2015.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin collected the medal on behalf of the fallen peacekeepers from the country at a solemn ceremony in the UN General Assembly hall.
This year's commemoration comes amid the world body trying to tackle the "disturbing" allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against the Blue Helmets.
Peacekeepers from India, which is one of the largest troop contributing countries to UN operations, maintained their clean record and no allegations were received against them.
Last year Lance Naik Nand Ram, who served with MONUSCO and Raju Joseph, who had served in a civilian capacity with UNMISS were posthumously awarded the medal.
India is among the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations, with its military and police personnel having been deployed in UN missions including in Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon and South Sudan.
So far, India has contributed nearly 180,000 troops who have served in over 44 of the 69 peacekeeping operations, including the 103-strong Indian female police unit in the UN mission in Liberia.
Currently more than 105,000 uniformed personnel from 124 troop and police-contributing countries serve under the blue flag, along with 18,000 international and national civilian staff and United Nations Volunteers.
Last year, 129 peacekeepers from 46 countries lost their lives in the line of duty.
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