Prachanda not to ask India to stop Gorkha recruitment

September 10th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 10 (IANS) When the Maoists were a guerrilla party and fought their 10-year ‘People’s War’ to establish a secular Communist republic in the world’s only Hindu kingdom, they had vowed to stop the recruitment of young Nepalis in the armies of India and Britain.However, now facing the threat of a revolt by the same Gorkha community, Maoist chief and republic Nepal’s new Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ will not raise the issue of halting the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army when he heads to India Sunday, a top Maoist leader said.

Barshaman Pun ‘Anant’, who was a deputy commander of the ‘People’s Liberation Army’ and is now an elected lawmaker from the Maoist party, said though the new Maoist-led government would try to create employment opportunities within the country to stop the flight of its youth abroad for jobs, it would not immediately seek to stop the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers by the two foreign governments.

Nepal’s state media Wednesday quoted the former PLA leader as saying that no other sovereign country in the world sent its citizens abroad to work for the defence of other countries.

“The Gorkha recruitment centres in Nepal prove that we are still living in a semi-colonialised state,” Ananta said.

However, the Maoists, who Wednesday unveiled the policies and programmes of the first government led by them, would not stop the recruitments immediately.

“We don’t have any plans to end Gorkha recruitments immediately as our country lacks the capacity to absorb unemployed youth,” the state-run Rising Nepal daily reported him as saying. “Until we have such environment, we won’t implement our agenda of ending the recruitment.”

Ananta said Prachanda would not raise the issue during his visit to India next week.

Ever since the Maoists won the election in April, Nepal’s Gorkhas, the valiant indigenous people from western Nepal known for their loyalty and prowess with the traditional dagger or khukuri - have been fearing the closing down of all recruitment centres.

After a war in 1814-16 between Nepal and the then East India Company that was ruling India, the two countries signed an agreement that paved the way for Nepal’s Gorkhas being hired in the British Army.

When India became independent, most of the Gorkha recruits decided to stay under the newly created Indian Army while some moved on with the British Army.

There are about 30,000 Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army now under seven regiments.

They have also won the highest awards for gallantry in both the countries, including the Param Vir Chakra in India and the Victoria Cross in Britain.

Though British Gurkhas have been involved in several law suits against the British government alleging discrimination in pay and perks, Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army are treated on par with their Indian counterparts.

Deepak Bahadur Gurung, chairman of the Nepal Ex-Servicemen’s Association, has warned that his organisation would start a new ‘People’s War’ - a takeoff on the Maoists’ 10-year People’s War - if the new government stops the recruitment.

The Association says over 250,000 Gorkha soldiers and their families would hit the streets if such a move is contemplated by the Prachanda government.

The association has also urged Prachanda not to take up the issue even if the Indian government raises it during his visit.

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