The United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) protested outside the Indian Embassy at Lainchour in the capital today afternoon as part of its previously announced programme to protest against “the rising Indian internvention in Nepali politics”. Hundreds of Maoist cadres took part in the gherao against the rising Indian intervention and the encroachment of Nepali territories at various places along the southern border of Nepal. They staged a rally from Bhadrakali, in front of Singhadurbar today, before heading to Lainchour. Senior Maoist leaders including Vice Chairman Narayankaji Shrestha, General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa and Giriraj Mani Pokharel led the rally. Today’s protest outside Singhdurbar and the Indian Embassy was fixed earlier as part of the fourth phase of Maoist agitation.
The Maoists have been criticising India for its ‘intervention’ in the Nepali politics after they dislodged from the government last year over the army chief row. With their senior leaders taking part, they recently staged march pass at various border points where the encroachment of Nepali soil from the Indian side has been reported. The Maoists have said that their recent agitation aims at safeguarding the national sovereignty and civilian supremacy.
Black Flag for Indian Army Chief
The Maoist youth wing Young Communist League greeted Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor with black flags at the Tribhuvan International Airport upon his arrival earlier today. They chanted slogans against “Indian expansionism” and sported banners asking the Indian Army chief to go back home. Gen. Kapoor is on a four-day “goodwill visit” during which he will be given the honorary title of the General of the Nepali army amidst an investiture ceremony by the President. There is a tradition of conferring honorary title on the army chiefs of the two countries that started since 1950s. In December, Indian President Pratibha Patil had conferred the title of Indian Army’s Honorary General on Nepal Army’s Chief Gurung.
Gen. Kapoor was received by Nepal Army second-in command General Toran Jung Bahadur Singh. A large number of security personnel have been deployed in the capital to prevent any untoward incidents. The police arrested seven Maoist cadres from the airport and have been detained at Gaushala police office. The Maoists have hung banners that read “Go back home” at various places in the capital to protest Kapoor’s reported statement against bulk integration of Maoist ex-combatants into the Nepal Army. Gen. Kapoor is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari and senior NA officials. He is scheduled to return on Jan. 22.
Yesterday’s boycott:Maoist lawmaker Dev Gurung announced that his party had decided to boycott the session because the go-vernment failed to “respond” to the Indian Army chief’s remarks. Gurung said the Maoist party considers Gen. Kapoor’s statement as “interference in the sovereignty of Nepal”. he Maoists have been deman-ding that the government clarify its position after the media reported that the Indian Army chief had reservations on the collective integration of Maoist combatants into Nepal Army during Army Chief Chhatra Man Singh Gurung’s India visit. Kapoor was quoted thus: A collective integration of Maoist fighters into the Army will squarely mean politicisation of the Army, however, Maoist combatants can join the Army as any other Nepali citizen if they qualify and meet the parameters.
However, New Delhi issued a statement on Jan. 4 saying that media reports attributing “certain remarks” to the Indian Army chief on the issue of PLA integration were “highly distorted” and they didn’t “reflect the government of India’s position on the issue. It also said “it is regrettable that certain political parties are deliberately exploiting those distortions to create a controversy involving India.”
The Maoist House boycott came a day after the return of Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna from his official visit to Nepal. Speaking at the parliament on Sunday, Deputy Leader of the Maoist Parliamentary Party Narayan Kaji Shrestha had demanded clarification from the government on three issues —Gen. Kapoor’s remark, import of arms for Nepal Army from India and Prime Minster Madhav Kumar Nepal’s statement that the Maoists would meet the fate of Sri Lanka’s rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eealem (LTTE) if they tried to revolt. Gurung said the party boycotted the House with these three issues.
Here’s what Kapoor had said about the integration (as published in The Kathmandu Post of 21 Dec 2009:
Indian Army has reservations on bulk integrationDINESH WAGLE
NEW DELHI, DEC 20 – Chief of the Army Staff (CoAS) Gen. Chhatra Man Singh Gurung during his nine-day India visit succeeded in winning strong Indian support for the Nepal Army in the ongoing peace process.
The Indian side made it clear that the rebels should not be incorporated en masse in the National Army.
Chief of the Indian Army Gen. Deepak Kapoor, who attended the dinner hosted by Gen. Gurung at the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi, expressed this quite strongly that the Maoists should not be integrated into the Nepal Army en masse.
Military Attachés of different influential embassies in New Delhi, incumbent and former Indian bureaucrats and military officers were present at the dinner.
“They want to politicise an impartial Nepal Army,” Gen. Kapoor told the Post. “Do you want to see your Army being politicised? What do you want to do by integrating the rebel forces collectively into the national army? Why do they want to join the Army but no other security forces? The National Army is purely entitled to safeguard the country. That’s what we do here and I think that’s the model.”
Asked, ‘does India want to upset the ongoing peace process by standing against the integration?’ “You are arguing on behalf of the Maoists,” Gen. Kapoor retorted.
Noting that a collective integration of the Maoist fighters into the Army will squarely mean politicisation of the Army, Gen. Kapoor said, “However, Maoist combatants can join the Army as any other Nepali citizens if they qualify and meet the parameters.”
“Nepal Army has always maintained that any eligible Nepali citizen can join the national force through a due procedure,” added Gen. Kapoor. “This sounds pretty logical. If the Maoist fighters wish to join the Nepal Army, they should follow the due recruitment procedure as other Nepali citizens aspiring to join the Army do. Those meeting the norms and standards automatically qualify to join.”
When told that the Maoists consider a Nepal Army sans integration an epitome of feudals, the Indian Army chief, pointing at a busy host Gen. Gurung, shot back: “Do you see a feudal in him?”
Stating that Nepal and Indian Army share long-standing and close relations, Gen. Kapoor said that Indian Army had no influence in the Nepal Army and refuted speculations that the then Army chief Rookmangud Katawal established communications with the Indian Army while the Maoist-led government was planning to sack Katawal. “I never had talks with him in this regard.”
Meanwhile, Military Attaché in the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi Col. Ashok N. Rana ruled out Indian media reports that said Nepal had shown interest to buy some ‘phased out’ tanks. “That’s completely baseless news,” said Col. Rana.