Could This be Baburam’s Katwal Moment? Nepal Army Against Bulk Recruitment of Madhesis

The Nepal Army is dissatisfied with Tuesday’s (20 Dec) Cabinet decision (see below) to recruit 3,000 youths from the Madhesi and other minority communities. It plans to register its reservations with the government after receiving a formal order from the Ministry of Defence. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai invited Chief of Army Staff General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung at his residence on Wednesday (yesterday) morning. The PM, however, did not clearly instruct the CoAS on the Cabinet decision, an Army source said. Gurung is meeting President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on Thursday (today) to discuss the decision.

“If the government’s decision contradicts with the Interim Constitution and the Army Act, the Army will officially request the government to revise it,” the source said. The Army argues that recruitment is purely a ‘voluntary process’ and it cannot restrict ‘the right to equality’ guaranteed by the Interim Constitution by opening vacancies for any particular group. Under the existing recruitment process, 55 percent of the seats are filled through free competition, while 45 percent are recruited under the reservation quotas.

“If the government wants to make the Army more inclusive, it should amend the Army Act and offer more seats in the reservation quota,” the source said.

Army chief meets the Prez

Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Chhatra Man Singh Gurung called on President Dr Ram Baran Yadav at the latter’s residence in Shital Niwas on Thursday (today). During the meeting, the CoAS expressed dissatisfaction towards government’s decision to recruit Madhesi youths in a separate battalion of the Nepal Army (NA) as part of its motive to make the national army an inclusive institution.

The Cabinet decision has drawn flak from opposition parties Nepali Congress and CPN-UML as well as other political forces and groups.

Govt to Nepali Army: Take in Madhesi youths

The government on Tuesday (20 Dec) directed the Nepal Army to begin recruitment of 3,000 Madhesi youths, including those from the Dalit, janjati and backward communities in the region.

The fresh directive issued to the Army after a four-hour-long Cabinet meeting is likely to take the total strength of the Army to over 100,000. The current strength is 92,753, while the total posts in the national army is 95,793. The Cabinet discussed Chhinamasta, Janaki, Birat, Salej and Simrangad as the likely names for the new battalions to be formed.

The decision was taken in line with the four-point agreement signed between the UCPN (Maoist) and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, which led to the formation of the current coalition.

Recently, the two sides held a series of meetings to have the agreement implemented, with the Morcha at one point of time threatening to withdraw from the coalition. The other important agendas of the four-point agreement includes addressing the issue of citizenship and introducing a new inclusive bill. The bill has been sent to the Bill Committee of the Cabinet.

The  government was planning to revive 3,000 vacancies in the Army that were scrapped after the Janaandolan II to make way for the Madhesi youths. However, leaders from both the Maoist party and the Morcha had been saying that 2,000 posts would be given to Madhesi youths and 1,000 to the Dalits and backward groups. The Sabuj battalion now has members of the Madhesi community.

The Cabinet meeting is learnt to have discussed providing citizenship to children of those that have acquired citizenship through birth. While ministers from the Morcha are said to have argued that the line ministry concerned–Ministry of Home Affairs–should be given a directive by the Cabinet in that regard, some Maoist ministers are learnt to have argued that providing citizenship to the children of those that have certificates by birth would not be a problem as laws pertaining to it exist.

A Cabinet source said differences on the citizenship issue prolonged the meeting. The Cabinet, the source added, may meet again on Wednesday to resolve the issue. Earlier on Tuesday, a meeting of the major parties was called to address the issue. According to Sadhbhawana party Co-Chairman Laxman Lal  Karna, parties were in agreement that providing citizenship to children of those that have acquired certificates through birth should not be a problem. Karna added that the meeting saw the presence of legal experts like Khim Lal Devokta and Sambhu Thapa.

NC objects to bulk recruitment of Madhesis

The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has taken a serious exception to the government decision to recruit Madhesi youths in a separate battalion of the Nepal Army (NA) as part of its motive to make the national army an inclusive institution.

Saying that the decision would hinder the professionalism of NA, the NC accused the government of trying to divide the national army in the name of caste and region.

“NC would not accept this decision as it impedes unity, discipline, and professionalism of the NA. The NC would not support any kind of factionalism within the NA,” said NC leader Arjun Narsingha KC.

Saying that the recent decision of the Cabinet was unacceptable to the party, NC leaders said they would instead support other alternatives to make NA inclusive. “The decision to make a different battalion of the Madhesis would trigger divisions within the army. Other alternatives should be sought,” said KC.

The cabinet meeting on Tuesday had decided to direct the Defense Ministry to integrate 3000 Madhesis in the NA as a different battalion.

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12 thoughts on “Could This be Baburam’s Katwal Moment? Nepal Army Against Bulk Recruitment of Madhesis”

  1. Good on you Madhesi,It will open for Rai Limbu,Podey, Jyapu,Chamar,Sarki,kami etc battalions.Why should not they get opportunities as well.To be frank,we do not need NA.We do not have to fight India or China.Armed poice is enough.What a waste of tax money.
    .

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  2. Despite of consequences being ascertained, why we need a separate wing and why not to have them mingle with existing forces. What is the idea behind and first of all think who is behind this drama. Is it not the strategy of our neighbor through personal interest of our Madhesi leaders.

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  3. I agree with Prakash and also with Jack Gurung (but only to a certain extent). An army does not have to only fight its neighbors in order to exist. Yes, definitely, the army’s main function is to fight conventional battles, but then increasingly after 1990 and 9/11, the army has many other functions. It may indeed be a waste of taxpayer’s money, but then, Jack has to also consider how the taxpayer’s money is actually “wasted” in Nepal by others than the army (or including if you want). If one were to discuss on those lines, then actually Nepal does not need the politicians, nor the armed police, nor the police nor any government machinery at all, because all of them waste taxpayers’ money. Even the taxpayers themselves waste their own money. They neither can take care of their bridges, their forests, their roads, cleanliness, hygeine, hospitals, street lamps, public buses etc etc etc. So, we may not actually need the Nepalese to be in Nepal if we look at our own attitudes and doings, because we have wasted a lot of money in corruption, bribes etc. Indeed, a lot of money is needed to have a military in a country, but Jack’s logic is very feeble. I wonder what it would be like to have a “Raute’s Batallion,” to add to Jack’s list. I really don’t mind who serves in the Nepalese Army, but if one were to do a sincere study, then Madhesis and those living in the Terai regiona are far more in advatageous position in Nepal than any other group of people. The roads, the schools, the land, the rivers and irrigation, the access to India, the hospitals, the availablilit of cheap products, you name them. I wonder why they need group enrollment in the Nepalese Army!!

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  4. frens i think it is not because of job opportunities that madhesi want to be in the military. it is because they have a very high number of population and even after having that many CA member, politicians, ministers, prez, vice-prez from their region, they still feel underrepresented in the national army. now its a matter of dignity as a nepalese they wanna feel their presence in every sector in nepal. its a good thing for them and for nepal as a nation but the fact that their leaders are pressuring for this and maobadi are agreeing for this means there is a bigger hand behind the genuine demand of the people. also like every thing done in nepal this will also happen by the mercy of delhi. i just wish it was singadurbar doing it rather than delhi dubar. jai desh

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  5. visionary it is his momentum today 3 rd january happy new year in Terai and rest of landlocked.
    Considering the world crisis we should dance that lumbini had the Lord Buddha born there for tourism. The fighting for non exisiting funds and invisible jobs and lack of enligtenment has not stopped. Jay Nepal Jay Dr. Baburam. Issues that had not been tackled may come up again. Never a boring day. I would not invest in Nepal. There is no gender policies implication, all is too slow and greedy. But the unions are doing a great job and I do not think anyone but Dr. Baburam could have mediated between the previous factions that hold on to power bastions and real life.

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  6. Picking up on Nepali Solta’s line of thought up there. It is okay to give quotas or even protect the marginalized etc. But to be pushy or bossy about this is not ok. Okay bring them in, but do it with amendments to the Constitutions (which I think has happened) and the Army Act. But this can only go on for some years. How many Pahades or Chhetri Bahuns are there in Madhesi parties? Or in the top echelon? Or Madhesis in Maoist top echelon? This is not the way to think about it. You can’t show the anger of a child in order to get something. You have to earn it. Now the quotas have been given, earn it. Don’t push in a group. Why did the Madhesis give only 117 applications out of 1700 odd applications? Because forestry, medicine, agriculture are more lucrative and easily accessbile due to proximity with India. Why are there dominant pahadis or what they called pahai chhetris in the army? Because nothing much used to grow and business were not prosperous in the hills, nor were there other opportunities. So army was the next best thing for them. If it has taken so many years for the chhetris or brahmins to get entrenched in something they have been doingi for so many years, then the Madhesi folks need to put a lot many years to achieve that. Similarly it will take one hell of many years for irrigationa, roads, schools and hospitals to reach the pahads. Anybody complaining to get it within 2 years? NO! I understand the Madhesis need to be well represented in the political power structure, but they need to be patient about it and need to work for it. AFter all we are Nepalese. NObody can stop any other from what he/she wants to do. Democratically everyone can put thier points across, but you can’t be choosy or bossy about it and play identitiy politics to get your way through. Child’s adamancy don’t work in matured politics.

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  7. Nice to see such varied opinions in this blog. Makes interesting reading and also raises some very debateable questions.

    Why do we need an Army – we will not be fighting the Chinese nor the Indians. True so let us accept India’s repeated efforts to place Nepal under India’s security umbrella. If that is what we really want, it would save tons of money so that the political elites and the highly efficient government service would be able to develop the nation to the standards of “Singapore” and wash our streets with waters from the “Melamchi”.

    For generations, the hill people have shed their blood for the country while the rest enjoyed benefits of the land, or trade and the loot. This is perhaps now the right time for the Madeshis, Newars, and whoever feels he needs to rough it out in the army, to switch roles. I for one, would not mind it a bit to become a respected businessman who has the liscence to cheat others.

    Life is interesting indeed!

    Deva

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  8. Either maoist or some others, First they are nepalese and they are only used in battle. Now they all wants to get freedom .so dont do anymore politics on them PLZ.

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  9. We do not need army in nepal to be honest, we cant fight with anyone. But we need more manpower to build the nation’s infrastructure and i believe that we can use the term as army to develop our nation, construct roads, hydro, railway, and many more infrastructure activities. To do this i believe we need the deployment of manpower. Therefore, i urge with the government to include all ethnic background to army, they are not the waste of taxpayers, but will help the taxpayers lives in this environment. The country is really under manpower, therefore, hiring more manpower in nepal army will contribute to the nation. The more hand, the more work. Its just that the political level should be able to capitalize with this source and have a vision of developing the country rather than discussing why bring his group or her group. we need more manpower so that the tax payers could live a healthy and secured life.

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  10. yes….Rights of equality in a circumtances of your Gorkhalis pride and Honors …..Jai Nepal….hmmm great going…..yadav ji

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