India unlikely to resume arms supplies to Nepal

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : A new multi-party government is in power in Nepal, but India is not planning to resume arms supplies that were stopped in February 2005 to show displeasure over King Gyanendra’s bid to rule by force.

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This is because New Delhi sees no further insurgency threat, say Indian officials.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS that currently New Delhi’s focus is on the stalled constituent assembly election. A sizeable part of the Indian assistance now is intended to ensure free and fair polls.

As part of its non-lethal assistance, India has donated vehicles and wireless sets to the Nepal Police as well as Armed Police Force to crack down on criminal activities and create a conducive environment for the election.

Since the Nepal Army, as part of the peace agreement signed between the government and the Maoists, has been confined to the barracks for almost a year with no military activity, India doesn’t feel the necessity of continuing arms supplies, the officials said.

However, should there be a sea change and violence break out, New Delhi will rethink its strategy depending on the circumstances, they said.

When the Maoist insurgency had escalated in Nepal and the army was called in to combat the guerrillas, New Delhi armed the then Royal Nepalese Army with its indigenously manufactured Insas family of firearms at a 70 percent subsidy.

However, after King Gyanendra toppled the government of elected prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and seized power with the help of the army, India stopped its arms supply to pressure the king into handing over power to political parties.

Now, two years later, India continues to adhere to the same policy, as New Delhi sees no renewed threat of insurgency.

Though the Maoists pulled out of the government in September to push their demands for the immediate abolition of monarchy and an election system that would be to their advantage, they have promised not to take up arms again.

When Nepal’s parliament resumes its session Monday, the guerrillas have said their MPs would try to advance their demands and if that failed, they would hit the streets to start a new movement. However, the new “people’s movement”, they have reiterated, would be peaceful.

India would be watching the new parliamentary session keenly for indications as to which way Nepal’s fragile peace process is heading.