Controversy stalks Nepal Army chief’s visit to India border

June 19, 2020 09:59 pm | Updated 09:59 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Nepalese army chief General Purna Chandra Thapa. File photo

Nepalese army chief General Purna Chandra Thapa. File photo

A day after the chief of the Nepalese army visited the Nepal-India border near Kalapani , a controversy has broken out with media reports suggesting that the Nepal Defence Minister pressured General Purna Chandra Thapa to visit the strategically important region.

Also read: The Hindu Explains | Why are India and Nepal fighting over Kalapani?

Online news portal Nepalmag has reported citing senior Nepal military sources that General Thapa was under pressure from the leading figures of Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli’s government, who wanted him to display Nepal’s territorial claims over the Kalapani region.

“According to a highly placed military source, it was the pressure from Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwor Pokhrel that made Thapa visit Darchula near the Indian areas,” the online publication reported. The senior military source said, “Initially, the chief was reluctant to go.”

It is said that General Thapa was concerned about the current tension between India and China and preferred to visit the region at a less sensitive time. Former head of the Nepal Armed Police Hemant Malla was cited in the report as saying that such visits often carry meaning and should be appropriately timed.

General Thapa visited Darchula on Wednesday-Thursday where Nepal Armed Police has established an outpost. The Nepal Army also has a temporary post nearby. General Thapa was accompanied by Shailendra Khanal, head of Nepal Armed Police Force. The visit is being seen as part of Prime Minister Oli’s attempt to ensure stronger management of Nepal’s frontiers.

According to sources in the Nepal Communist Party, the Oli government is planning to build at least 200 border outposts along the 1,800 km-long Indo-Nepal border within the next year. A significant number of these outposts will be built at the Indian border at the Sudoorpaschim province, which is nearest to the Kalapani region.

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