1947 pact on Gorkha soldiers redundant, says Nepal Minister

Pradeep Gyawali. File photo: Reuters  

The 1947 agreement among India, Nepal and the United Kingdom that deals with the military service of Gorkha soldiers has become “redundant,” Foreign Minister of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said on Friday.

In an online interaction organised by the Nepal Institute of International Relations, the Minister dealt with various aspects of India-Nepal ties and said India should respond to Nepal’s request for talks on the Kalapani dispute to prevent the issue from impacting people-to-people relations.

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“Gorkha recruitment is a legacy of the past. It was on the one hand the first window that was opened to Nepali youth to go abroad. It helped create a lot of jobs for the society in the past. In the changed context some of those provisions have become questionable. At least tripartite agreement of 1947 has become redundant,” said Mr. Gyawali answering a question. He spoke of a possible “bilateral” arrangement with India regarding the Gorkha soldiers.

Discrimination alleged

The 1947 agreement divided the Gorkha regiments of the British empire between India and the United Kingdom. It also assured that the Gorkha soldiers of Nepal while serving in the British military will draw perks and privileges equivalent to their counterparts. However, Gorkha veterans have been alleging that the U.K. has been discriminating against them. Mr. Gyawali did not spell out the specific terms that Nepal wishes to discuss with India on the Gorkha soldiers in the Indian military.

The objection from Nepal regarding the Gorkhas serving in the Indian military has been heard more prominently in the recent months in the backdrop of Nepal-India territorial dispute over the Kalapani region of Pithoragarh district that Nepal claims as its own. The issue surfaced as a talking point, after Indian Army Chief Gen. Manoj Naravane remarked at an event organised by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses on May 15 that Nepal’s strong protest against Indian road construction in the Limpiyadhura-Kalapani-Lipulekh area was at the behest of a third party (China).

The comment drew a strong response from the Nepalese social media which pointed out that it was unacceptable as the Indian Army Chief is granted the honorary post of a General in the Nepal Army and also because a large number of Nepalese Gorkhas serve in the Indian military.

Mr. Gyawali stated that Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli urged the United Kingdom to turn the employment of the soldiers into a bilateral understanding with the U.K., hinting at the termination of the agreement. Following the request of Mr. Oli, Nepal had written to the United Kingdom to review the engagement with London to secure the prospects of the Gorkha soldiers.

Former ambassador of Nepal to India, Bhek Bahadur Thapa, said the issue of the employment of the Gorkha soldiers abroad was old which had to be addressed by the current young generation of Nepal.

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The Minister also dwelt on the Kalapani border dispute and urged India to convene formal diplomatic dialogue on the issue. “We time and again asked our friend [India]. We proposed possible dates for the formal dialogue. Amid the pandemic when Indian government created Lipulekh link road, it created serious disappointment among our people,” said Mr. Gyawali about the Kalapani dispute.

He said India’s response on the issue left Nepal with no option but to go ahead with the publication of the political map which was passed by the parliament in June as the Second Constitution Agreement. The discussion also took up the report of the Eminent Persons Group which was constituted in February 2016. The report of EPG has become a subject of curiosity as the final report has not been presented so far. Mr Thapa said the report had been ready for two years and placed the onus of unveiling it on India.

“It is now with the two prime ministers. The issues raised in the report are relevant and will remain relevant also in the future,” said Mr. Thapa who served as the Coordinator for EPG from the Nepalese side.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 2:48:51 AM |

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