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BSF man killed in Kosovo cremated
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | August 08, 2003 14:49 IST
Seven-year-old Arvind lit his father's funeral pyre on Friday in an unusually humid monsoon noon a few moments after the Last Post was sounded. A sea of men in khakhi and civvies stood around in silence.
Arvind looked bewildered as his father's colleagues from the Border Security Force paid the last respects. When the guns went off as a mark of respect, Arvind looked frightened by the sound.
His father Deputy Commandant Satish Chandra Menon's death didn't seem to have sunk into the seven-year-old student of the Air Force Bal Bharati School.
In his last farewell, Menon was dressed in the blue uniform of UN peacekeepers in distant Kosovo, where he was killed by unidentified gunmen on August 4. His coffin was wrapped half in an Indian tricolour and half in the blue flag of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.
Menon is one of the dreadful mementos that a strife-torn world sends occasionally to India, which continues to hold firmly to its commitment to UN missions around the world. Over 100 Indian security personnel, most of them army men, have died around the world ever since the UN peacekeeping missions came into being in early 50s.
As flames from the pyre licked up, Arvind walked back with his uncle and sat in a dusty waiting room. After a moment's silence, Arvind turned to one of the men sitting near him and said, "I am thirsty, give me some water."
Outside, Additional Director General of BSF A K Mitra assured a lifetime's support to Arvind, his elder sister Aparna (8) and their mother Leela, who seemed to have conquered tears with a firm commitment to her children and life.
Mitra said Menon's family would receive about Rs 3.2 million as compensation from the BSF and Rs 2.5 million from the UN. BSF would continue to pay his family his latest drawn salary till the time of his natural retirement, and after that pension would also be given to the family. BSF would also give them accommodation under the special category for widows of the force.
Besides, Mitra said, the BSF would assist in the children's education and the girl's wedding. "He is our first real casualty in an international operation," he said. A senior BSF official said the force had lost another officer in a road accident in Cambodia several years back.
UN Subrahamani, the BSF officer who accompanied Menon's body from Kosovo, said it was a burst of AK-47 bullets that took Menon's life. A bullet pierced Menon's body from the top of his left shoulder into the body damaging his vital
Menon is the first casualty of the UN mission in Kosovo.
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