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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Indian Army officer dies in Congo during Kayaking trip to Lake Kivu

Lt Col Gaurav Solanki had gone kayaking with a group of officers and all of them returned except Solanki.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2019 05:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congo has the largest deployment of Indian Army on foreign soil. The Indian brigade there is headquartered at Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Congo has the largest deployment of Indian Army on foreign soil. The Indian brigade there is headquartered at Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.(HT Photo/ Representative Image)
         

An Indian Army officer posted with the United Nations peace mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo died during a kayaking trip in Lake Kivu in the eastern part of the country, two army officers said.

The body of the officer, who went missing on Sunday, was found on Thursday after days of intense search that involved speed boats and helicopters, one of the officers cited above said.

Lieutenant Colonel Gaurav Solanki, a Special Forces officer serving as military staff officer in the mission, had gone kayaking with around 15 officers and all of them returned except him.

“Intensive serve was carried out to retrieve the officer. The mortal remains of the officer were retrieved inside lake, about one km Tchegera Island,” the second official said. Solanki was about to finish his tenure and return to India to take over the command of his battalion.

The cause of the army officer’s death has not been ascertained yet. Sources said enquiries are underway to ascertain the cause of death even though prima facie it appears that Solanki died due to drowning accidentally.

Congo has the largest deployment of Indian Army on foreign soil. The Indian brigade there is headquartered at Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

India has a long history of deploying troops in the Congo: the first Indian blue berets (the colour used on UN duty) served from 1960 to 1965. It is the only UN mission where an Indian soldier — Captain GS Salaria — was awarded the Param Vir Chakra. He died in 1961, trying to save the Katanga province from falling to rebels.

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 16:39 IST