Indian Army’s Gorkha centre not recruiting Nepalis, says MP

November 16th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Nov 16 (IANS) The 120-year-old recruitment centre of the Indian Army in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh has stopped enlisting Nepal’s Gorkhas for over a year, an MP said here. Indian diplomats and officials confirmed this giving reasons for the move. Nepali MP Malawar Singh Thapa, who also heads the Rastriya Janamukti Party, Friday raised the issue in parliament amid fears by the families of Gorkha veterans who have for generations sent their children to the Indian Army.

“The Gorakhpur centre used to recruit 5,000-6,000 Nepali Gorkhas every year,” Thapa told IANS. “However, it has not recruited any Nepali Gorkhas for over a year now.”

Thapa’s comments have raised fears here that India may be trying to scrap a six-decade-old tripartite treaty.

Thapa said he wrote to the Indian ambassador, Rakesh Sood, Oct 19, “asking him if India had decided to terminate the 1947 treaty”. “On Oct 30, the ambassador (said) that the treaty was intact. However, Gorkha recruitment has been halted as there are no openings in the Indian Army currently.”

An Indian Army spokesman in New Delhi told IANS that there indeed had been a halt in recruitment for about a year due to political turbulence in Nepal. But if Nepali Gorkhas were keen to join the Indian Army, they were welcome, he said.

Thapa also drew the parliament’s attention to the complaints by Indian Army’s pensioned Gorkha soldiers that they were no longer receiving free treatment in Indian hospitals for over a year.

After independence from British rule in 1947, India signed a tripartite treaty with Britain and Nepal, following which the Gorkha Brigade of the colonial army, famed for its bravery and loyalty, was split between India and Britain.

The Indian Army has seven Gurkha regiments now with about 60,000 soldiers recruited from Nepal.

Thapa’s father was an honorary captain in the Indian Army and who himself was educated in Gorakhpur.

The halt in recruitment comes at a time Nepal’s ruling Maoist party says it wants to stop the hiring of Nepalis in the Indian and British armies.

However, the Gorkhas have said they would oppose any such state decision. The remittance sent back to Nepal by the Gorkha soldiers abroad helps keep Nepal’s shaky economy stable.

Back home in India, the policy of hiring Nepali Gorkhas is also being opposed by Nepali-origin Indian Gorkhas living in Darjeeling, Dehradun and Sikkim, who want the Indian government to hire them instead.

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