Maoist arms training row refuses to die down in Nepal

Lawmakers are now asking for a confidential document to be made public and Nepal’s foreign ministry declining.

Nepal’s official media Saturday said that parliament’s International Relations and Human Rights Committee had summoned Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, who is also the deputy prime minister, and asked her to table before it the controversial letter sent by the Indian embassy in Kathmandu over a month ago.

The letter had alleged that Nepal’s Maoist party had given arms training to Indian Maoists with the help of the outlawed Islamic terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba.

However, Koirala did not appear before the committee Friday, as asked. Instead, Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai sent a written explanation, saying the letter could not be disclosed due to diplomatic confidentiality as well as an ongoing investigation.

The foreign secretary said the home ministry, in tandem with the foreign ministry, was investigating the Indian charge that nearly 300 Indian Maoists from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand had been trained in at least two camps in Nepal this year, one of them being a cantonment of the Nepal Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army.

Nepal’s Maoists have been denying the charge, saying it was based on a trumped-up report by the Nepal Army, who were working on the orders of Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Nepal’s defence ministry has in turn repudiated the Maoist counter-charge, calling it baseless.

The dispute became acrimonious with lawmakers also objecting to reports that the Indian embassy sent the letter to both the foreign and home ministries.

The International Relations and Human Rights Committee said communicating with the home ministry directly went against diplomatic norms.

Senior Maoist leader Chandra Prakash Gajurel, who is also a member of the committee, said the Indian charge should be investigated seriously since it came at a time New Delhi was being blamed for the protracted political stalemate in Nepal.

Earlier this week, the chief of Nepal’s Armed Police Force, Sanat Basnet, said his agency had probed the arms training charge at various levels but had found no evidence to corroborate it.  


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