Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor on Tuesday met his Nepalese counterpart as he began a crucial four—day trip amid protests by hundreds of Maoists at the Indian Embassy in the capital.
General Kapoor will hold talks with Nepal’s top political and military leadership and will be decorated with the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army by President Ram Baran Yadav on Thursday, according to officials.
The decoration for the Indian general comes after Nepalese army chief General Chhtra Man Singh Gurung was conferred with the Honorary title of General of the Indian Army by President Pratibha Patel in New Delhi on December 14, upholding a six-decade old tradition.
The police arrested over a dozen Maoist cadres who attempted to wave black flags at the Tribhuvan International Airport, police said.
Hundreds of communist supporters protested outside the Indian Embassy in the capital coinciding with the visit of the Indian general, who has been targeted by the Maoists for allegedly opposing the en masse integration of the former PLA guerrillas force into the Nepal Army.
The Indian Embassy here earlier clarified that the reported remark of Gen. Kapoor was “highly distorted” and did not reflect New Delhi’s position on the issue.
The leadership of the UCPN-Maoist has also accused New Delhi of encroaching on Nepalese territory along the common border.
Maoists held anti-India rallies at different parts of the capital as part of their fourth phase of their protest to uphold “civilian supremacy” and “preserve national independence”, coinciding with the arrival of the Indian Army chief.
Maoist cadres led by party Vice Chairman Narayankaji Shrestha and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa staged demonstrations at the Indian Embassy’s amid anti-India slogans. They carried banners opposing Kapoor’s reported remarks against the en masse integration of Maoist combatants into the military.
The former rebels also staged a sit-in at Singhdurbar Government Secretariat and in front of the military headquarters to oppose alleged “Indian intervention” in Nepal’s internal affairs.
Maoist lawmakers boycotted the Parliament on Monday to protest against the Indian Army chief’s reported statement.
Gen. Kapoor will also call on Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Defence Minister Vidya Bhandari, Army sources said.
Gen. Kapoor will visit the high-altitude military academy of Nepal Army situated in Jomsom in Mustang district, some 220 k.m. north-west of Kathmandu and the western regional headquarters of military in Pokhara, 200 k.m. west of the capital.
Political tensions have been high in Nepal since the Prachanda-led government resigned last year amid a dispute with the president over former army chief General Rukmangad Katawal’s refusal to incorporate former Maoist rebel fighters into the military.