Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Vaiko has been sentenced to 15 days in prison for a sedition case from 2009. Vaiko, who refused to seek bail in the case, was accused of making a speech in favour of Sri Lankan militant group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Vaiko surrendered before a Metropolitan court in Chennai on Monday. He has been lodged at Puzhal Central Prison, PTI reported. The case was filed against him by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam at the time. It relates to an allegedly “seditious” speech he had made at his book launch in Chennai in 2009, The Times of India reported. The book, Naan Kutram Sattugiren (“I Accuse You”), is a compilation of letters Vaiko had written to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The MDMK leader refused bail in order to put pressure on authorities to begin a trial in the eight year old case, according to The Times of India.
Vaiko in the past had made several speeches that appeared to support the LTTE, which had conducted numerous suicide attacks to demand for a separate Tamil Eelam state in Sri Lanka. He was the first Member of Parliament to be detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for supporting the LTTE. He had spent 18 months in prison from 2002 until 2004.
Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units
The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.
The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).
The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.
The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.
While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.
Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.
How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.
The National Geographic exclusive is a landmark in television and is being celebrated by the #untoldstory contest. The contest will give 5 lucky winners an exclusive pass to the pre-screening of the documentary with the Hon’ble President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can also nominate someone you think deserves to be a part of the screening. Follow #UntoldStory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to participate.
This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.