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'ISI activity on decline in Nepal'

india Updated: Nov 18, 2006 18:27 IST
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With the Maoists on the ascendant in Nepal, activities of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are on the decline, because their activities were actively encouraged by the Palace.

In an interview exclusive to the Hindustan Times, Chairman and supremo of Nepal's Maoists 'Prachanda' disclosed, he said, for the first time ever, that when he decided to take the 'movement to the streets', back in 1996, he was offered "assistance" in the form of arms and money from representatives claiming to be from the ISI.

"We must accept that the anti-India activity from Nepal (including acts like the hijack of IC814) was centred in the royal durbar," Prachanda said. "When this feudal king (Gyanendra) was just the king's brother, and a businessman, he had a business partnership with Dawood Ibrahim and conducted much of his smuggling through him," said Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who prefers his alias 'Prachanda' (the fierce one). "With our movement gaining people's consensus, the anti-India ISI activity controlled by the Durbar is almost non-existent," Prachanda said.

This was the first time Prachanda, 52, has visited India openly, a sign of his movement's growing popular acceptance, to which India is resigned.

"When we initiated the armed movement against the corrupt rule in Nepal (in 1996)," Prachanda said, "ISI-type people offered us money and arms assistance. I resisted and our council agreed to refuse the assistance because we felt our movement would lose its Nepali-people-centric approach," Prachanda said, explaining his reasons for turning down such assistance.

Turning to the future of the monarchy in Nepal, Prachanda, who has long advocated a republican form of government, said the King could stay on in Nepal if he accepted the verdict of the people and lived there as an ordinary Nepali citizen.

He said, in turn, his movement would adhere to the time schedule laid out in the comprehensive peace accord to be signed on November 21, and would accept the verdict of the people in elections to be held in June. Whatever the verdict, he said, it was unlikely there would any need to return to armed insurgency, as the situation has moved on.

The man who led the armed insurgency against the government in Nepal that has claimed 13,000 lives, said his movement had to go underground because of state repression, but the Maoists have never supported the use of terrorism and violence as an instrument of state policy.

"It has never been our policy to terrorise the state by the killing of innocent people," Prachanda said. "But during the 10-year civil war, we have committed some 'mistakes,'" he admitted, citing in particular the 2004 'massacre' of 38 innocents in Chitwan. Among the first acts of his party members when they join the interim government next week, he said, would be to visit the region and apologise to the affected families.

On the Indian government's apprehensions that his party's entry into mainstream multi-party "competitive politics" would boost the insurgent Maoist movement in India, Prachanda said the apprehension was "unfounded."

"We have no working relations with the Indian Maoists, but only ideological relations," he said. "Our approach has been different. We joined parliamentary politics in 1990 and were the third largest party in Parliament. It has always been our desire to reflect the aspirations of the common people."

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