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Statement ghost likely to haunt Kapoor’s Nepal visit

world Updated: Jan 19, 2010 17:56 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times

An off-the cuff remark reportedly made last month could overshadow all other issues on agenda during Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor’s four-day Nepal visit that began on Tuesday.

Black flags greeted Kapoor on his arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport and nearly 1200 Maoists staged demonstrations outside Indian Embassy and Singha Durbar—the official seat of Nepal government--to register their protest against his statement and alleged Indian interference in Nepal.

In the past weeks, a lot of media space and political hype has followed Kapoor’s alleged statement expressing reservation on en mass integration of former Maoist rebels into the Nepal Army.

The comment made at an official dinner during his Nepalese counterpart General Chatraman Singh Gurung’s India visit had led Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to term it as India’s “naked interference” in Nepal’s internal affairs.

The Indian Embassy tried to do a delayed damage control by issuing a statement this month that media reports had “highly distorted” Kapoor’s remark and it didn’t reflect the Indian government’s position, but it failed to act as a balm.

Although External Affairs Minister SM Krishna expressed India’s displeasure at baseless mudslinging by Maoists during his meeting with Prachanda on Saturday, the former prime minister and his party colleagues have not put an end to their anti-India rhetoric.

On Monday, the opposition Maoists, who have launched a national awakening against foreign powers, boycotted parliament seeking a reply from Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Kapoor’s remark.

Kapoor’s goodwill visit is expected to increase defence cooperation between both neighbours. He will meet the Nepalese Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Nepal Army chief and visit several military training establishments as well.

Kapoor will also be conferred the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army by President Ram Baran Yadav on Thursday as per tradition between both nations. The Nepal Army chief was also conferred the similar title during his India visit.

The Army chief’s reported statement made last month on the need for India to develop capability to engage in a two-front war with Pakistan and China has also led to lot of negative reactions in Pakistan.