Nepal crisis hits India's plans to recruit Gorkhas in Army | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Nepal crisis hits India's plans to recruit Gorkhas in Army

delhi Updated: May 04, 2009 21:17 IST

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The worsening political crisis in Nepal has badly hit Indian Army's plans to recruit Gorkhas from the Himalayan nation into its infantry battalions this year, following a two-year lull, to fill up vacancies.

Army sources said in New Delhi on Monday that it had chalked out plans for enlisting Gorkhas from Nepal into seven Gorkha Rifles regiments, but the present crisis had led it to review the plans.

"Currently there are about 1,500 vacancies for Gorkhas from Nepal in the 35 battalions of 800-men each from the seven Gorkha Rifles regiments. But this crisis has led us to a rethink. It would be difficult to carry out the recruitment rallies at Dharan in eastern Nepal and Pokhara in central Nepal, which are the two recruitment centres for Gorkhas," sources said.

About two years ago, at the height of Maoists insurgency in Nepal, India had stopped its recruitment rallies in the Himalayan kingdom.

After the Pushp Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' led Maoists were voted to power in the first democratic elections last year, he had stated that Gorkhas from Nepal should not get recruited into the Indian Army.

But recently, the Nepal government agreed to India conducting recruitment rallies in the Himalayan nation, following a meeting between Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood met Prachanda to discuss the issue.

After the former underground insurgency leader gave an assurance that his government would not stop the hilly Nepali tribe famed by their courage and loyalty from joining the Indian Army, New Delhi set up organising the recruitment rallies.

Army sources said they had till now received over 15,000 applications for the 1,500 vacancies. "There has been an overwhelming response to the Indian Army's call for soldiers from Gorkhas in Nepal," they said.

The Indian Army recruited Gorkhas from both Nepal and India in the ratio of 40:60 in each of its Gorkha Rifles battalions. The strength of Gorkhas from Nepal in the Indian Army currently stood at around 15,000 men out of the total 28,000 Gorkhas.

Several Gorkhas aspire to join the Indian Army, as it provided them with a source of employment and earnings. The pension that they received after retirement from service too was an attraction for them to willingly join the Indian Army.

Also, by serving in the Indian Army, the Gorkhas get to go home in Nepal by just crossing the Indo-Nepali border within hours, thereby enhancing the possibility of the soldiers attending to domestic issues at short notices.