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Defence minister trains gun at Army chief

While the Maoist-led government in Nepal is under tremendous pressure over the removal of Indian priests from Pashupatinath temple, the Defence minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has started training guns at the Nepal Army, reports Anirban Roy.
By Anirban Roy | AFP, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON JAN 05, 2009 05:54 PM IST

While the Maoist-led government in Nepal is under tremendous pressure over the removal of Indian priests from Pashupatinath temple, the Defence minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has started training guns at the Nepal Army.

Defense Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa on Monday said that he sought clarification from chief of Nepal Army General Rookmangud Katawal over a controversial remark in Nuwakot district.

General Katwal on Sunday had said at a function in Nuwakot that Nepal Army will not be able to accommodate politically indoctrinated soldiers as it is a well-regimented and apolitical formation.

The Army chief’s remark was primarily against the Nepal government move to merge Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with Nepal Army. Rather, the Nepal Army has initiated a process to recruit 2,884 soldiers recently.

General Katwal had also claimed that the process of recruitment had started after prior government approval and was done according to the law.

Angry with General Katwal’s statement, the Defence Minister said that the show-cause letter is the beginning of a “disciplinary action” against the chief of Nepal Army.

Thapa told journalists at a press conference in Chitwan district on Monday that Army officials cannot make any political statement. “Their job is to follow the order of the people’s government,” he said, adding that orders have issued to stop the recruitment immediately.

“If the recruitment process is not stopped, we will initiate disciplinary actions as per the constitution,” Thapa said, adding that disciplinary action against General Katawal has already begun.

It is natural for the Maoist-led government in Nepal to train guns at General Katwal as he was raised and educated by King Mahendra (Gyanendra Shah’s father) at Narayayanhity Palace.

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