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The Korean War (1950-1953) was a brutal conflict, but amidst the fighting emerged a powerful image of compassion. This photograph depicts two Indian soldiers gently carrying a weeping Chinese prisoner-of-war (POW) towards an exchange point in Panmunjom, North Korea.

While not directly involved in the fighting, India played a significant role in the Korean War through its participation in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping effort.

Two key contributions stand out:

60th Field Ambulance: This paramedical unit, consisting of 346 personnel, served in Korea for over three years. They provided critical medical assistance to the war-torn region, treating over 200,000 wounded and performing a staggering 2,300 field surgeries.

Custodian Force India (CFI): As the war subsided in 1953, India deployed a 6,000-strong force known as the CFI. Their primary task was to manage the repatriation of POWs – a complex issue that had stalled the armistice negotiations.

The iconic picture captures a pivotal moment in the POW repatriation process. The Chinese soldier, likely one of the 65 who chose to return home, is visibly emotional. The Indian soldiers, despite being on opposite sides of the conflict just a short while ago, demonstrate empathy and care as they carry him towards his designated exchange point.

India’s contribution to the Korean War, both through medical assistance and facilitating POW repatriation, is a testament to their commitment to peace and international cooperation. The photograph continues to resonate as a symbol of humanity and the hope for reconciliation even after war.