Tag Archives: nepali army

Badhshala- A Bad Director Can Never Make a Good Film

Letter written by the Defence Ministry.
Letter written by the Defence Ministry. Click to enlarge

This is yet another example of former adversaries- the Nepali Army and the Maoists- coming together to cover their dirty secrets (conflict-era crimes).

By Siromani Dhungana

Habituated to the filthy political drama, the government imposed a ban on Nepali movie Badhshala (Slaughter House) in a clear sign that the government is going to be a butcher for the Freedom of Expression (FoE). In a letter (see pic above, and below by Ministry of Information and Communication to Nepal Film Development Board) sent to Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC), Ministry of Defense has asked to impose ban on the movie citing on the vague reason: ‘…some issues including use of Army regalia in the movie’. Republica, in an editorial, writes:

In a deplorable move, the Ministry of Defense, [currently led by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai],  has requested a ban on Nepali movie Badhshala, citing a rarely invoked rule. Apparently, the filmmaker should have taken permission to use Army regalia in the movie. But many Nepali movies have previously depicted characters in Army uniforms without any interference from the government. Hence the Defense Ministry’s reasoning falls flat at the outset. All previous movie bans were conducted by censor board (for example, the movie ATM that was banned for vulgarity). This is the first time that the Defense Ministry has gotten involved in preventing a movie’s screening.

American judge Potter Stewart says: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

So, the question is has our government lost its confidence? And whether it is heading towards an authoritarian regime? Many say that is exactly what is happing. Continue reading Badhshala- A Bad Director Can Never Make a Good Film

Nepal Army to Execute Maoist Guerrilla Integration Plan

Feels Tuesday’s historic pact addresses its concerns

By Phanindra Dahal

The Nepal Army (NA) has expressed its readiness to fully support the landmark deal signed by parties on Tuesday night on concluding the peace process, stating that its concerns have been addressed in the agreement that will see former Maoist combatants integrated into its ranks.

Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha leader Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar signed the deal expressing commitment to setting up a general directorate under the NA to integrate up to 6,500 Maoist fighters. The general directorate, according to the deal, will be deployed for infrastructure development, rescue and relief operations as well as forest and industrial security.

“We feel fortunate that the parties forged an agreement on integration modality that we had suggested,” said a two-star general, commenting on Tuesday’s seven-point agreement. “We are ready to extend our full support to the implementation of this decision.” Continue reading Nepal Army to Execute Maoist Guerrilla Integration Plan

Controversial Promotion of the Year: Toran Singh is No. 2 of Nepal Army

By Kamal Raj Sigdel and Phanindra Dahal

Toran Jung Bahadur SinghIn a controversial move that has angered many including some western donor countries and agencies, the government today (Thursday) promoted Maj. Gen. Toran Jung Bahadur Singh as Chief of the General Staff, the second-in-command of Nepal Army. The government had put the promotion on hold for six months in view of mounting pressure from the international community as well as local and international rights groups. The major donors—the US, the UK and other EU countries—and UN human rights agency OHCHR had demanded Singh’s suspension, pending investigation into allegations of involvement in the disappearance of 49 detainees from the Army’s Bhairavnath Battalion in 2003-04. The Cabinet move comes five days after Chief of the Army Staff Chhatra Man Singh Gurung returned from his official visit to India.

Americans unhappy: The international community, especially the US and OHCHR, have expressed serious concern over Gen. Toran’s promotion. The US Embassy in Nepal has cautioned the government over its decision, adding that it could have an impact on the US assistance to the Army. “It (Toran’s promotion) could have an impact on the US assistance to Nepal Army,” said Information Officer at the US Embassy Nicole Chulick. “We’ve seen local press reports on Toran’s promotion. We have repeatedly expressed our concern about the promotion to Nepali government. We also want to stress that our concern is not about one individual, rather all the human rights abuses that were committed by the Maoists and the Nepal Army during the decade-long conflict. These abuses need to be thoroughly investigated and those abusers held accountable.”

OHCHR is also unhappy: “OHCHR’s position since 2006 has been consistent — those implicated in human rights violations committed by members of the 10th Brigade in 2003 and in 2004, when General Singh was in command, should not be promoted pending completion of a full, transparent and impartial investigation,” said Representative of OHCHR-Nepal Richard Bennett.

But Defense minister is happy: “Singh’s promotion is part of the regular job. There is nothing to object,” Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari told reporters in Biratnagar, following the Cabinet decision. “There is no case pending at the court against him and we can’t prevent anybody’s promotion just based on allegations.” Bhandari and Nepal Army had been constantly lobbying with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal for Toran’s promotion. According to a government source, the government took the decision despite warnings from some of the P-5 countries – permanent members of the UN Security Council. Envoys of the US and the UK had registered their differences during a meeting with Prime Minister Nepal on Wednesday, when they were informed of the government intention to promote Singh.

Army is happy too: Nepal Army, however, is upbeat about Singh’s promotion in that the decision paves the way for promotion of other senior officials whose promotions had been put on hold due to indecision over Singh’s promotion.

Then there is ‘Major controversy’

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken strong exception to Nepal Army’s decision to form a Military Court of Inquiry to deal with allegations of human rights violations by Maj. Niranjan Basnet. NHRC has said neither the Army court nor the so-called Maoist People’s Court has jurisdiction to hear cases of serious human rights violations such as those related to the murders of Maina Sunuwar and Ram Hari Shrestha.

While Maina, a 15-year-old girl from Kavre, was allegedly tortured to death in Army detention under the command responsibility of Maj. Basnet in February 2004, Shrestha was allegedly abducted and killed in May 2008 by PLA commander Kali Bahadur Kham. Neither the Army nor the Maoists have taken any action against the accused. Instead, the Maoists promoted Kham in the party heirarchy and the Army sent Basnet to a UN peacekeeping mission in Chad after giving him a clean chit. The UN, however, deported Basnet to Nepal earlier this month in view of the allegation.

“NHRC draws the government’s attention to the need to try the cases of Maina Sunuwar and Ram Hari Shrestha in civilian courts because they are related to serious human rights violations,” said an NHRC statement today (Thursday). NHRC maintains the government should respect the Supreme Court order and produce Basnet before the Kavre District Court, which has issued an arrest warrant in his name.

Meanwhile, Maina’s mother Devi Sunuwar has urged the government to hand over Basnet for trial. “I am deeply hurt by the dilly-dallying of authorities in handing over Basnet,” said Devi at a press conference at Nepal Bar Association today (Thursday).  She also appealed to civil society, the media and diplomatic missions to press the government to prosecute Army officials—Maj. Basnet, Col. Bobby Khatri, Captain duo Sunil Prasad Adhikari and Amit Pun, all allegedly involved in the murder of her daughter—in a civilian court. She claimed she had received threats asking her to withdraw the case. Devi said she has also been offered money and a house in Kathmandu.

Army in Nepali Politics, Politics in Nepal Army [Everything You Wanted to Know]

UWB note: The issue resulted in the resignation of the first democratically elected (and Maoist) Prime Minister of the Republic of Nepal after his split cabinet fired the Army chief only to be rejected by the first democratically elected President of the Republic of Nepal. The country is now into a constitutional crisis with the Supreme Court issuing a show-cause notice to the President’s secretariat as to why he ordered the army chief, who was sacked by the cabinet, to stay on. Maoists and some members of the civil society are hitting the streets saying the Presidential letter to the ‘sacked’ army chief was unconstitutional where as opposition parties representing more than 50 percent in the 601 seat constituent assembly feel the Maoist’s unilateral decision to fire the army chief was unconstitutional and improperly executed. Here is a research article, written before the resignation of PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal, that explains the issue that has almost threatened to put the fragile peace process in peril.

By Bishnu Pathak, PhD


The confrontation between the United CPN (Maoist) and the then Royal Nepal Army began when the former first attacked the Army barracks in Ghorahi, Dang on November 24, 2001 and continued up to the initiation of the Popular Movement (Jana Andolan II) in April 2006. When the present Prime Minister (PM), Puspa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, first appeared in the media two years ago, along with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai at Baluwatar, he harshly criticized the Nepal Army (NA). Even his retraction soon after did not untie the knot that had developed in the relationship. The result of Constituent Assembly (CA) widened the gap. This gap intensified more due to the Maoists having their own army, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The anti-Maoists generals felt abandoned, and the national and international forces who were against the Maoists-led government were (are) able to exploit their feelings to serve their interests. Their traumatized psyche aligned them towards politics. They knocked on doors of their near and dear ones, forgetting their structured and disciplined duties and responsibilities. The NA generals, particularly the incumbent Chief of Army Staff, (CoAS) Rookmangud Katawal, started to deliver political lectures as if they were political leaders, against the Interim Constitution, elected government, peace process (integration or formation of a new national army), and so forth. The vested interests of a few generals fomented distrust with the civilian government. Continue reading Army in Nepali Politics, Politics in Nepal Army [Everything You Wanted to Know]

Why Nepal is Divided Over the Sacking of Army Chief?

It’s not so important to ask why the Maoists are sacking the Army Chief as it is to ask why the other parties are apposing this so strongly. Three reasons:

By Neil Horning

In a democracy, the Army should not be a center of power in the slightest. It is supposed to carry out the will of the elected government within the confines of the constitution. To illustrate, when Obama was elected, it was considered a novelty when he did not replace the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Thus, in assessing this development, I feel it’s not so important to ask why the Maoists are sacking the Army Chief as it is to ask why the other parties are apposing this so strongly.

There a couple of reasons why this could be so. In increasing importance:

1. The Army Chief has important friends in elite circles

Even in the US it’s common to say, “it’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” This could not be truer in Nepal. While the country has gone through tremulous upheaval recently, nepotism, corruption, and crony-ism have hardly abated. While the Nepali Congress and The UML formally apposed the Palace, their upper crust, mostly Brahmin-Chetri members ran in the same social circles with royals and royalists, dined with them, attended the same wedding receptions, ran the same civic organizations, served on the same boards, etc. All in this elite class share the goal of, to one degree or another, preserving the power of their own class-caste. These are social contacts that nearly all Maoist members severed while going underground, if they existed to begin with, and they hardly have had time to return. The Army Chief Surely has many friends within the CPN UML and NC, if not relatives (which trump all), and many favors to call in. Continue reading Why Nepal is Divided Over the Sacking of Army Chief?

Nepal Army Chief Sacked

>>>President Intervenes>>>But the President who is the supreme commander of the army, tells ‘sacked’ General Katwal, to continue with the job in a late night letter. President said he received letters from 18 political parties in the Constituent Assembly in which they said they were against the government’s decision to sack the General. President also noted that he found proper procedures were not met to sack the General. This has invited mixed reactions from lawyers and constitutional experts. Finance minister Baburam Bhattarai has termed President’s action as ‘constitutional coup’ saying that it would be countered ‘in the government, on the streets and in the Constituent Assembly.’ Meanwhile, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government has fallen into minority after the CPN UML, second largest partner in the coalition, pulled out from the government earlier in the day.

>>Army Chief Sacked>>Today’s controversial meeting of the cabinet that was boycotted by the major partner in the Maoist-led ruling alliance has decided to sack the Chief of the Army Staff, General Rookmangad Katwal. Katwal has refused to accept the letter that says he is sacked while his number two in the Nepali Army Lt. Gen. Kul Bahadur Khadka, a Maoist favorite, has accept the letter that appoints him as the acting head of the army. General Katwal has gone to the Army headquarters and is reportedly holding meetings with top generals. Last week the Army refuted media reports that suggested that it was preparing for a Bangladesh-style coup in which President would be used as the face of the new government.

After the cabinet meeting that was boycotted by CPN UML, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal went to call on the President. The cabinet decision will only be enforced after the ceremonial head of the state approves it. President Ram Baran Yadav is against the sacking of the army chief and has been continuously suggesting the government to take action only on consensus. In his initial response to the cabinet decision, the President has been reported as saying that he was unhappy with the decision as no proper procedure was followed. It remains to be seen, at this point in time, how he and Katwal will go ahead. Whatever happens, it’s confirmed that the Maoists have been able to create unprecedented division in the institution of the national army with whom they fought the war until 2006.

Meanwhile the opposition Nepal Congress party has called for an all party (minus Maoist) meeting this afternoon to discuss the cabinet decision while the UML has convened an emergency meeting of the standing committee.

The Military Coup That Wasnt

UWB Note: The Nepal Army today issued a statement strongly refuting the following report (and the one appeared in today’s Kantipur) as “imaginary and illusionary.” “We would like to let the general public know through this statement that the unified and disciplined Nepali Army is working according to laws and the chain of the command and will remain so. The Army that is in continuous service for the freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of the motherland remains committed to democratic norms as always. We appeal the public and the international community not to believe on the news report that is published with ill intention of brining division between the government of Nepal and Nepali Army.”

Generals of Nepal Army had made plans of ‘soft coup’ to tackle Maoist’s plan to dismiss the Chief of the Army Staff General Rookmangud Katwal.

By Akhilesh Upadhyay

It sounds surreal, reads like a page from a nail-biting thriller.

On Thursday (23rd April), 25 generals were present at the meeting of Principal Staff Officers at the Army Headquarters. The agenda was a serious one: Maoists are in a larger mission than to eliminate Nepal Army. They were out to derail the peace process and destroy Nepali democracy. And something had to be done to stop that.

It was PSOs and Valley commanders first meeting after the Maoist-led government issued a clarification letter to Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katwal.

The meeting started with DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) Gaurav Rana, saying that this was a historical moment and therefore it called for a frank discussion. “We are facing a tsunami and we must stop it,” he said. “The virus which is trying to destroy the Army is in this room.”

Himalaya Thapa, who heads the No. 1 Brigade added, “The root of the trouble is here. We must look for it and get rid of it.” A number of other generals also spoke at the meeting. Continue reading The Military Coup That Wasnt

BAD: PLA's Reaction to Nepal Army Recruitment

By Lilu Thapa

Following the lines of the Nepal Army’s recruitment, the PLA also has started its own recruitment process for the “vacant posts”. How sane is that decision by the Maoist leadership or what will be the extent and effect of this new development is yet to be seen. However, if this new recruitment from the PLA continues, it will have serious impacts in the already fragile political balance (or imbalance) that we have in the country. Continue reading BAD: PLA's Reaction to Nepal Army Recruitment

The Recruitment that Threatens to Derail the Peace Process

For the record: Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cantonments have started recruiting new soldiers apparently in response to the ongoing recruitment in Nepal Army (NA). Though the Maoist party itself has yet to officially comment on the recruitment, key political parties have come out strongly against the drive saying it violates past pacts, most notably the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of November 2006. Maoists, who head the defense ministry, said the same when Army recruitment row broke out. The other political parties gave the nod to Army recruitment. Continue reading The Recruitment that Threatens to Derail the Peace Process

Soldiers Mutiny in Bangladesh: Lessons for Nepal

The incident in Bangladesh should cause a serious concern to the policy makers and the senior officers of the uniformed forces in Nepal as well.

By Lilu Thapa

The recent mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Soldiers in Bangladesh has raised a lot of questions in the security arena. It practically seems to have spread to Bangladesh from their twin’s inspiration in Nepal. It must be studied closely in Nepal by all those who are involved in the management, control and use of the armed forces here as well. The contemporary importance of this revolt which took lives of hundreds of officers by their subordinates, in an armed force, is very real in Nepal. Also, this can have impact further on to the whole of south Asia as all of the countries here in South Asia have the similar force structure and general conditions in the armed forces. Continue reading Soldiers Mutiny in Bangladesh: Lessons for Nepal