Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' has pressed for the release of nearly 100 Maoist activists who are held in various jails in India.
Prachanda, who is currently on his second trip to India to attend the BIMSTEC summit, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday night.
During his talks with the PM, Prachanda took up the issue of Maoist prisoners who were detained during the course of the decade-long insurgency in the Himalayan country and sought their release, Nepal's ambassador to India Durgesh Man Singh told IANS on Thursday.
The two leaders also reviewed the progress of bilateral relations in different areas since their last meeting nearly two months ago in New Delhi. They also discussed the proposed revision of the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship that is aimed at modernising relations between the two countries.
They reviewed the progress of talks between their commerce secretaries, home secretaries and water resources secretaries over the last two months and decided to activate other bilateral mechanisms, the Nepali envoy added.
During the Maoist-led people's war starting in 1996, several Maoist leaders, on the run from the Nepal authorities, managed to sneak over the porous border into India. Many of the rebel leaders were arrested in India at the request of the then government in Kathmandu.
Nearly 100 Maoist activists are held in jails in Patna in Bihar and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, Nepali sources said.
Prachanda himself has spent many months in hiding in India from where he is said to have masterminded guerrilla operations against security installations in Nepal.
The issue of the release of Maoist activists has acquired an increased importance as some hawks in Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) are plotting to challenge Prachanda's leadership.
The Maoists are planning to hold a national convention of their top leaders Nov 18 to resolve differences among them on key issues facing the new regime in Kathmandu.
Prachanda, a former guerrilla leader who waged a decade-long battle against “feudal autocracy” in Nepal - a reference to the defunct monarchy, sounded upbeat about the “historic and unique” peace process that is underway in Nepal.
“Previously, Nepal was in a start of serious conflict. We were fighting against feudal aristocracy. Tremendous change is going on,” Prachanda told reporters at a joint press conference with leaders of other Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries.
“A very conducive atmosphere has emerged in Nepal. This new government is completely committed to regional institutions like BIMSTEC,” Prachanda said. He expressed hope that his proposal for the creation of a Tourism Centre in Kathmandu will benefit Nepal enormously.
After attending the BIMSTEC summit, Prachanda headed to Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, to inspect the Tehri Dam.
The trip is part of India's ongoing efforts to allay Nepal's fears about the construction of large dams.
“The trip to Tehri dam is very important. We want to learn from the Indian experience about the management of large dams and issues relating to the relocation of displaced people,” the Nepali envoy explained.
This exercise is part of Nepal's desire to intensify cooperation in the hydropower sector, Singh said.