The diplomatic standoff between India and Nepal after the former's allegation that Nepal's Maoist party was training Indian Maoists deepened Saturday with a senior Nepali minister rebutting the charge.
Almost three weeks after India lodged a formal protest with Nepal's foreign and home ministries, saying Nepal's Maoist party had given arms training in two camps in Nepal, one of them involving a member of the Islamist Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) providing a crash course in explosives, Nepal's Peace and Reconstruction Minister Rakam Chemjong said neither the Indian Maoists nor the LeT had any network in Nepal.
The official media Saturday quoted the minister as saying at a press conference in eastern Nepal Friday that Kathmandu would not allow any such terrorist group to conduct its activities in the Himalayan republic.
Chemjong also rejected the allegation by the Maoists that the Nepal Army had drawn up a fake report alleging the Maoists were training their Indian brethren to edge them out of the peace process.
Maoist MP and former deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army added fresh fuel to the row by alleging it was a conspiracy between Nepal's caretaker prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and New Delhi to pave the way for India's military intervention in Nepal.
Nepal's government showed more promptitude in denying the allegation against the army than in probing the Indian charge.
The defence ministry issued an ambiguous statement that carefully omitted any reference to the Maoists and instead said that the media reports about a secret report cooked up by the army on the orders of the government were "fake and misleading".
It said it had not asked the army to author any such report and nor had the army tabled any such intelligence report.
Nepal's caretaker government, fearing to antagonise the Maoists, has shown itself to be sharply divided on the arms-training charge even though it could cast a chill over Nepal's diplomatic ties with India.
While the Communists, who at times seem to be reaching a new power-sharing deal with the Maoists, remain silent, the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the ruling alliance, has been asking for a state inquiry.
Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, a leader of the Nepali Congress, said the government has begun investigating the Indian charge but did not divulge details.
The so-called investigation is likely to be more than a sop to appease New Delhi and sweep its charge under the carpet.
The caretaker government, facing an acute funds crunch, is trying to table the new budget next week.
Therefore it is unlikely to do anything to antagonise the Maoists, without whose support parliament will not be able to pass the budget.
While Nepal's Maoists, who waged a 10-year armed uprising from 1996, signed a peace pact to take part in an election two years later and run a shortlived government following a surprise win, India's Maoists are still continuing their war on the government in 20 of the country's 29 states.
The Nepal Maoists received arms training from their Indian peers while fighting their "People's War" but now deny any further links, saying they have simply ideological support for the latter.