Nepal Army dragged into Indian Maoists` training row

Nepal Army will raise its objections and concern at a key defence meeting.

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2010, 16:15 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepal Army will raise its objections and concern at a key defence meeting on Thursday at the allegation by the former Maoist guerrillas that it concocted a report about the ex-rebels training Indian Maoists in their camps as part of a "conspiracy" to pave the way for Indian military intervention in Nepal.

"It is a baseless allegation levelled not only against the Army but the prime minister as well," said Brigadier General Ramindra Chhetri, spokesperson of the Nepal Army.

"Our representative Brig-General Purna Chandra Thapa has been asked to convey our serious objections and concern at the meeting of the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee that sits today."

The committee is a key body comprising members of the Nepal Army, the opposition Maoist party and the UN that had the mandate of deciding the future of the Maoists` guerrilla troops, the People`s Liberation Army (PLA).

The fate of nearly 20,000 PLA fighters is the worst hurdle in the ongoing peace talks with the Maoists refusing to discharge them and the ruling parties saying there could be no agreement as long as there were two armies in Nepal.

The Army reaction came after Nepal`s Maoists, stung by an allegation by India that the PLA had given arms training to nearly 300 Indian Maoists in Nepali territory this year, began a counter-propaganda war, calling it a conspiracy between India, the current caretaker government of Nepal and the Nepal Army.

Maoist member of Parliament and former PLA deputy chief Barsha Man Pun Ananta, who, India claims is one of the top Nepal Maoist leaders who signed a pact to provide the training to their Indian comrades, has now dragged the Army and Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal into the escalating row.

Ananta said at a public programme on Wednesday that the protests registered by the Indian embassy in Nepal with Nepal`s foreign and home ministries over the alleged arms training were based on a report made six months ago by the Nepal Army`s eastern regional headquarters.

The Army, Ananta claimed, was directed to draw up the report by the prime minister himself.

It was, he said, part of a "conspiracy" hatched between India, the caretaker premier and the Army, to have the Nepal Maoists branded as terrorists again, push them out of the ongoing peace process and pave the way for military intervention by India in Nepal.

Now both the Maoists and the ruling parties are clamouring for an investigation into the Indian allegations made last month.

Ananta said the caretaker government should start an enquiry at the earliest.

The Nepali Congress, the largest party in the ruling alliance, is also seeking a probe.

NC leader and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, who is also the deputy prime minister, said India`s allegations would be raised at the next cabinet meeting.

Besides the Army, the prime minister`s office also rejected the Maoist allegation as baseless.

Former law minister Raghuji Pant, who is also the political advisor to the prime minister, said the Maoists were cooking up allegations to deflect attention from their own misdemeanours.

Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda faces criticism for obstructing the peace process and refusing to disband the PLA till the ruling parties agreed to hand over the reins of the government to him.

IANS