Maoists say Indian Army meddling in Nepal affairs


Kathmandu : A top Maoist leader Sunday accused the Indian Army of interfering in Nepal’s internal matters, further deepening the rift between New Delhi and Nepal’s biggest party.

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Baburam Bhattarai, deputy Maoist chief and former finance minister — also regarded as being close to India’s left parties, told private radio station Kantipur FM that Indian Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor’s statements – as reported by the media – construed interference in Nepal’s internal matters.

A new controversy about the troubled plans to merge the Maoists’ guerrilla fighters, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with the national army, erupted Sunday after Nepal’s media said the Indian Army chief was opposed to the integration.

The new chief of Nepal’s army, Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung, had returned to Kathmandu Saturday after a nine-day visit to India at the invitation of Gen Kapoor.

At a dinner hosted by Gen Gurung in New Delhi during his visit, Gen Kapoor was quoted by the Kathmandu Post daily as saying the Maoists wanted to politicise the Nepal army by inducting their fighters into it.

“The national army is purely entitled to safeguard the country,” the Post Sunday quoted the Indian army chief as saying. “That’s what we do here and I think that’s the model.”

However, in 2006, Nepal’s major parties agreed to induct the PLA into the army in a bid to end the 10-year civil war that had killed over 16,000 people.

But now, even three years after the peace deal, the integration is yet to begin, apparently due to the parties developing cold feet.

The Maoists remain dogged about the integration agreement, saying the ruling parties have to keep their pledge.

Traditionally, the Indian Army and the Nepal Army have always been close with the former being the biggest arms provider to Nepal.

It is also felt that the new government that succeeded deposed king Gyanendra’s army-backed regime did not take action against the army officers who supported the ex-king’s bloodless coup or were charged with human rights violations during the Maoist insurgency due to pressure by the Indian Army.