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Indian Army Chief in Nepal amid protests by Maoists

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 19:52

Kathmandu: Indian Army Chief General
Deepak Kapoor today met his Nepalese counterpart as he began a
crucial four-day trip amid protests by hundreds of Maoists
at the Indian Embassy in the capital.

General Kapoor will hold talks with Nepal`s top
political and military leadership and will be decorated with
the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army by President
Ram Baran Yadav on Thursday, according to officials.

The decoration for the Indian general comes after
Nepalese army chief General Chhtra Man Singh Gurung was
conferred with the Honorary title of General of the Indian
Army by President Pratibha Patel in New Delhi on December 14,
upholding a six-decade old tradition.

The police arrested over a dozen Maoist cadres who
attempted to wave black flags at the Tribhuvan International
Airport, police said.

Hundreds of communist supporters protested outside the
Indian Embassy in the capital coinciding with the visit of the
Indian general, who has been targeted by the Maoists for
allegedly opposing the en masse integration of the former PLA
guerrillas force into the Nepal Army.

The Indian Embassy here earlier clarified that the
reported remark of Gen Kapoor was "highly distorted" and did
not reflect New Delhi`s position on the issue.

The leadership of the UCPN-Maoist has also accused New
Delhi of encroaching on Nepalese territory along the common
border.

Maoists held anti-India rallies at different parts of
the capital as part of their fourth phase of their protest to
uphold "civilian supremacy" and "preserve national
independence", coinciding with the arrival of the Indian Army
Chief.

Maoist cadres led by party Vice Chairman Narayankaji
Shrestha and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa staged
demonstrations at the Indian Embassy`s amid anti-India
slogans. They carried banners opposing Kapoor`s reported
remarks against the en masse integration of Maoist combatants
into the military.

The former rebels also staged a sit-in at Singhdurbar
Government Secretariat and in front of the military
headquarters to oppose alleged "Indian intervention" in
Nepal`s internal affairs.

Maoist lawmakers boycotted the Parliament yesterday to
protest against the Indian Army chief`s reported statement.

Kapoor will also call on Prime Minister Madhav Kumar
Nepal and Defence Minister Vidya Bhandari, Army sources
said.

Gen Kapoor will visit the high-altitude military
academy of Nepal Army situated in Jomsom in Mustang district,
some 220 km north-west of Kathmandu and the western regional
headquarters of military in Pokhara, 200 km west of the
capital.

Political tensions have been high in Nepal since the
Prachanda-led government resigned last year amid a dispute
with the president over former army chief General Rukmangad
Katawal`s refusal to incorporate former Maoist rebel fighters
into the military.

Prachanda had blamed Gen Katawal for trying to resist
the integration of former rebels into the military as
stipulated under the 2006 peace agreement, which brought the
Maoists into mainstream politics.

The political parties are deadlocked over the
Maoists` demand to rectify the decision of President Yadav,
who reinstated Katawal, the then Army Chief dismissed by
Maoists Prime Minister Prachanda last May.

The Maoists, who have around 40 percent of the seats
in parliament, argue that the president`s move was
"unconstitutional" and has compromised "civilian supremacy"
over the military.

The standoff has put new stresses on Nepal`s
reconciliation efforts amid fears that a planned indefinite
strike by the Maoists from January 24 may derail the peace
process.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 19:52

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