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Nepal MP claims threats by Indian officials; embassy rubbishes

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu: A Nepali lawmaker, who left his ethnic party from the Terai plains to join the Maoists, has created a furore with charges that he was threatened with abduction and worse by Indian officials, claims that were repudiated by the Indian Embassy in Nepal as baseless.

Ram Kumar Sharma, who left his Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party to join the Maoists, was described as having played a prominent role in getting other MPs from Terai parties to vote for Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ in the prime ministerial election in defiance of their parties’ decision to stay neutral.

Sharma, who now faces action from his former party, is the new politician at the centre of the latest controversy.

On Friday, when Nepal’s fourth round of prime ministerial election flopped once again with neither Prachanda nor his rival, Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel, able to muster simple majority in the 601-member parliament, Sharma created a sensation alleging that he had received threat calls from an Indian Embassy staffer, who had identified himself only by his surname Das.

A private television channel Friday night held a nearly hour-long interview with Sharma and the allegations were splashed over Nepal’s major dailies Saturday.

According to the MP, Indian officials were trying to pressure him into quitting the Maoist party.

The threat began, he said, with a senior official from Kendriya Vidyalaya, the Indian school run from the premises of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, ringing him up to inform that his daughter Chandra, who had been admitted in the 11th grade, would have to be removed since there were too many students.

The Maoist MP said he blasted the school official, saying he had paid NRS 52,000 to get her admitted. “My daughter was not there on charity,” he said. “Besides, how can she be asked to leave on the ground that there are no seats when she has already been given admission?”

Soon afterwards, the lawmaker said he received calls from a man who identified himself as working in the consular section of the embassy. The man, Sharma claimed, threatened he would be kidnapped or worse if he continued supporting the Maoists.

The Maoist MP also claimed to have received a call from the Indian ambassador, Rakesh Sood, who, though using diplomatic language, tried to warn him against supporting the Maoists.

The Indian Embassy rubbished the allegations, saying it disdained to dignify them by commenting on them.

The Maoists, however, played them up Saturday.

“Maoist leader receives death threats from the Indian Embassy,” the Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily said in a front-page report.

It also linked the threats to the visit to Nepal by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran.

“Such threats were issued from the embassy at a time Shyam Saran was on an official visit to Nepal,” the report alleged.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at [email protected])