Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) waged armed struggle against Monarchy for ten years, from 1996 to 2006, leaving this Himalayan Kingdom rampaged. The 'people's war' of Maoist was propagated out of the blue during its second half of violent 'revolution' especially after 2001. What helped this surprising intensity of the Maoists rebellion was till now a secrete. However, the latest revelations through light on the Maoists triumph and on forces behind its unbelievable spread.
The fresh disclosure by a King's close military aid suggests that Indian establishment was behind propagating Maoists insurgency against monarchy in Nepal.
A former aid to the King of Nepal has revealed that India provided arms training to Nepal's anti-monarchy Maoist insurgents. In his memoir, 'Maile Dekheko Darbar' meaning 'The Palace As I Saw,' former palace military secretary General Bivek Kumar Shah writes 'Indian military trained Nepal Maoist insurgents at a Military Training Camp at Chakrata, near Dehradun.'
The former general of the Nepal Army, who had served the palace for nearly 30 years, launched his memoir recently which has made revelations on various unfolded aspects of Nepali politics and its foreign policy conduct.
Shah writes that a team of Nepal Armed Police, that went to Chakrata in Uttaranchal state of India to receive arms training, were told by the trainers (Indian military instructors) as well as locals that in the past Nepal Maoists were also trained in the same facility.
While Nepal state-intelligence was gathering information on India-Maoist nexus, other foreign sources too were convinced that Indian government agencies were working against Nepal monarchy, through Maoists 'revolution.'
The then Chinese ambassador to Nepal Wu Congyong met the then Nepali prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, and was 'understood to have clarified that Nepal's Maoist Party (then a banned terrorist organization) moved as per the Indian agenda and has no relation with China,' Gen. Shah states in his memoir.
'According to the information given by the Chinese ambassador, there is an unofficial agreement between the Maoists and India's intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) to end monarchy in Nepal,' the memoir says.
Shah also claims in his book that India trained the Tamil Tigers as well as Bangladesh's Mukti Sena at the same facility. When he was informed about this by a senior police officer he tried to investigate the truth, Shah writes.
The allegations come even as India has been saying that its Maoists have been receiving arms training by Maoists in Nepal.
In his 599-page memoir, General Shah alleges that India could have possibly incited the killings of the then King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and his family members, in the Narayanhiti Royal Palace shooting spree, on June 1, 2001.
According to Shah, who was military secretary to both King Birendra and his successor King Gyanendra, though it was undoubtedly Dipendra who pulled the trigger and caused the carnage, in which nine others died, he could have been incited by foreign powers.
King Birendra, he writes in his book, tried to modernize the outdated arsenal of Nepal Army. He had entered into negotiations with a foreign (European) gun manufacturer to buy as well as assemble guns in Nepal, from where they could be sold to other countries of South Asia, Shah adds.
'India was against Nepal having more sophisticated weapons than it had,' Shah writes adding, 'India was also worried about what would happen if such sophisticated guns fell into the hands of the Indian Maoists.' Shah reveals that during both Birendra and Gyanendra's visits to India, they were pressurized by the Indian leaders to buy India made Insas rifles at a 'friendly' price.
According to the Memoirs, not only his political moves but also a plan to break hold of India as the sole supplier of weapons to Nepal sealed Birendra's fate. 'India was not at all pleased with his plans to buy automated HK-38 rifles from Germany and set up assembly plants in Nepal. India was insisting upon Nepal for buying the sub-standard, made in India, Insas rifles', the formal general writes. 'The politics of weapons is somehow or the other linked to King Birendra's assassination.'
Interview published in People's Review Weekly, Paush 29, 2067 (January 13, 2011)
Deepak Gajurel is a political scientist with Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. His areas of interest are International Relations, especially Himalayan Asia. Gajurel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
People’s Review weekly interviewed him on contemporary political issues. Excerpts:
Q.1: You strongly believe that the country is facing serious political deadlock due to the vested interests of foreign powers. Why are the political leaders relied upon foreign powers rather than resolving the problems by themselves? Don’t they hold such a capacity?
Gajurel: As the political imbroglio goes on in Nepal, involvement of external players is becoming more discernible. India looks on Nepal as a country under its sphere of influence and regards any warming of Sino-Nepal relations with suspicion. India wants Nepal to remain under its sphere of influence. India wants its continuation from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru who had said that Indian borders were up to the Himalayas in the North.
Chinese understanding is that the United States, with assistance from India as well, can play from a weakened Nepali soil and act against the Chinese national security interest, along with hangover the entire South Asian region. Thus, Chinese interest in Nepal is to block the penetration of those forces which could pose a serious threat to its interests, especially through Tibet, China's weak belly.
Nepal's importance seems to be amplified in terms of regional as well as international power equations. Since the beginning of 'peace process,' Nepal's two giant neighbors - China and India - and the United States are doing activities unmatched in the past. The current political deadlock is mere a reflection of the power rivalry among these three major powers, that are competing for increased role in the world arena in general, and in this region of the Himalayan Asia, in particular.
Having said all this, Nepali political players of the day, parliamentary parties and Maoists, are, from the beginning, not working on their own. They have been doing what foreign forces, especially India, are directing to do. In fact, they find their base not inside Nepal, but in Delhi, the result, they are not in a position to work independently. This is evident, in case of oppositions, since the birth of India in 1947.
Q.2: The caretaker government led by Madhav Nepal is doing one after another decision under the Indian pressure. For instance, the government has planned to request India for upgrading security network at the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA), a sensitive zone and also has decided to go for a new treaty on extradition with the provision of handing over third country’s citizens to the country which has extradition treaty with Nepal. This decision has paved the way for endorsing impending draft of such a treaty already submitted by India to Nepal. How do you see those acts of a caretaker government?
Gajurel: The past experiences suggest that India has, since its birth as a country, always played an interventionist's role in Nepal's politics. Nepal's political movement, be that Congress struggle or recent Maoists', was supported and patronized by India for several decades. More recently, Indian leaders helped broker the 12-point understanding between the Maoists and Nepal's other political parties in 2005, enabling the rebels to emerge as a major political force.
Over the past year, anti-Indian sentiment has mounted in Nepal, visible in articles and editorials in the media and in public discourse. While it is possible that this sentiment is being stoked, as claimed by Indian intelligence agencies, by the Maoists, Indian officials cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for Delhi's fading fortunes in Nepal. Their repeated bungling has resulted in support for India touching an all-time low in Nepal.
India, which mediated to bring the Maoists to the peace process with high hopes, has not only withdrawn its trust in the former rebels, it has also been telling international partners and Nepali actors that 'thinking the Maoists will stick to their commitment to adhere to peace and democratic norms were an error of judgment on our part.' As expressed indirectly from different parts of Indian intelligentsia, if that is the case, it is a clear repudiation of its twin-pillar theory - encouraging constitutional monarchy and pro-democracy forces to work together - and its patronage of the Maoists as legitimate representatives of the people.
Given the geopolitical location of Nepal, in between China and India, India has, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, been alleging that Nepal's soil is being misused by anti-India elements. For this reason, New Delhi has been trying to keep a strong grip on Nepal's security sector. At the same time, present rulers of Nepal, parliamentary parties as well as Maoists, are obliged to do things in India's favor. This I see is the contest for providing India special facility in terms of extradition. This is a serious step which will, in the long run, negatively impact Nepal.
Q.3: The Indian Embassy is directly distributing funds to communities and individuals for small projects up to 30 million rupees. Is this a good trend?
Gajurel: This is certainly not good trend and is completely unaccepted. A sovereign nation can not provide such special rights to any foreigners. Unfortunately, our rulers have not been in serious in such matters. The Indian penetration in the name of 'development aid' would be counterproductive in terms of Nepal's social and political structures.
Q.4: India has alleged that different international terrorist groups have developed network in Nepal to carryout terrorist activities in India by enjoying open border facility between Nepal and India. It seems, open border has become a headache for India but she never talks about regulating the international borders. As an intellectual, how do you view on keeping borders opened?
Gajurel: Indians are crying that Nepal's soil is being used by anti-Indian elements. This was not the case during the Cold War, though China, India, US and Pakistan were there as they are now. China is seeking more and reliable assurance, from Nepali side, that Nepal would not be used by any anti-China element. Because of its location sandwiched between global players and probable threats to the present-day super power - China and India, Nepal provides a suitable ground for visible as well as invisible strategic activities.
It is generally said that Nepal-India borders are open. I see it otherwise. The international borders between Nepal and India are not only open, rather they are unregulated. In this situation, any element can utilize the unregulated and unwatched borders for any purpose. It is not that, as alleged by Indian side, borders are used only by anti-India elements, anti-Nepal elements too have been freely misusing the borders. This is evident from the recently revealed facts, that Nepal Maoists had been trained in India, they used the open unregulated borders for various anti-state activities.
The border issues must be taken seriously both by Nepal and India. Until or unless the international borders are regulated, there is always a risk of unwanted elements taking benefits of the situation. This is why, I suggest, that our borders must be regularized properly.
Q.5: Are you hopeful that all political problems will be resolved and peace will prevail in the country with the new constitution scheduled to be introduced by 28 May this year?
Gajurel: It is imperative to understand that current political deadlock in Nepal is not in Nepali's hands, , though visibly is among domestic players. It was easy to do whatever one had intended for, as in 12-points Delhi agreement, formation of CA, abolition of Monarchy (in an undemocratic and illegal manner) and doing away of Hindu state and so on. With the coming of more than one power in the scene, Nepali political players, be they Nepali Congress, UML, Maoists or Madheshis, have little guts and space to decide on.
I can safely conclude that external powers have more to do in Nepali domestic politics, than Nepalis themselves do. It is unlikely that Nepal would have a smooth sail in the near future. With the intensifying contentions, both overt and covert, between and among China, the US and India, Nepal's politics can hardly be expected to have a democratic regime in the years to come.
I am not hopeful that all political problems would be solved and peace will prevail in the nation even the new constitution would be promulgated in stipulated time. Politics is criminalized and handled with the force of arms and muscle. Once politics of violence in introduced you can hardly do away with this without an overhaul. And there not a light seen at the end of the tunnel that current trend of our politics would change. The politics of violence would continue to prevail even if you have new constitution. In addition, the contentious political players seem to taking the nation into another gulf of violence and instability.
In this disastrous scenario, I see only one hope. There must be a national consensus on where we are taking the country. I am not talking about 'Sahamati' repeatedly uttered by the political parties. I am talking about a national consensus among all national forces.
The King must be brought in into a meaningful dialogue for seeking such consensus. Political players must respect the agreement reached between the King and the parties on Baishakha 11 of 2063 (24 April, 2006). Further course of actions must be chalked out on the basis of that April 2006 agreement. It is up to the present political players whether they want peace and stability in the country or not. No matter whether you agree or not, Nepal will not have sustainable peace until you consolidate all forces and aspects of the nation, including the King.
Expressions of grave concerns over Nepal's political state from major world powers have become a routine feature lately. No such concerns were witnessed in the past in terms of Nepal's domestic politics. Till some years back, Nepal had not been so prominently taken by global powers. As the political imbroglio goes on in Nepal, involvement of external players is becoming more discernible.
Role of external forces in Nepal's domestic politics could be analyzed in more than one perspective. The first and foremost is regional perspective. The Himalayan Asia (South Asia plus China) has become the center-stage for international power equation. This change became more visible after the collapse of the Soviet Union, as Super Power, and the end of the Cold War.
Nepal's importance is amplified in terms of regional as well as international power struggle. Since the beginning of 'peace process,' in 2007, Nepal's two giant neighbors - China and India - and the United States are doing activities unmatched in the past. The current political deadlock is mere a reflection of the power rivalry among these three major powers, that are competing for increased role in the world arena in general, and in this region of the Himalayan Asia, in particular.
'Continued political instability in Nepal will have its grave negative impact not only in this part of Asia but also in the entire Asian continent.' This is the latest statement from a Chinese official. He Young, a top Polite Bureau member of the Communist Party of China, said this while meeting a Nepali delegation in Beijing on November 29, 2010.
US Ambassador to Nepal, Scott H. DeLisi, has reaffirmed that United States has a firm and continued interest in Nepal. The envoy, in an interview with a Nepali newspaper on December 13, 2010, said that US has been working in Nepal with its national interests in the cornerstone.
Another key player, and perhaps, most effective and aggressive till recent past, India, has been vigorously attempting to keep its influences in Nepal's domestic affairs. New Delhi's posture in Nepali politics has, time and again, been criticized by Nepal's key political players. India looks on Nepal as a country under its sphere of influence. India visibly wants Nepal to remain under its sphere of influence, a continuation of Jawaharlal Nehru dictum, who had asserted that Indian borders were up to the Himalayas in the North.
Chinese understanding is that the United States, with assistance from India as well, can play from a weakened Nepali soil and act against the Chinese national security interest, along with hangover the entire South Asian region. Thus, Chinese interest in Nepal is to block the penetration of those forces which could pose a threat to its interests, especially through Tibet, China's weak belly.
Importance of Nepal is geopolitically heightened with the shift of power equation at global level. With international relations becoming global, one or other region has become heartland (hotspot) for rivalry between and among world powers.
The world powers always intend to expand their influence. This tendency in power acquisition leads to clash of big powers at places. European powers, including United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and France were the rivals during the era before the First World War. For the expansion of their influences and for economic interests, these European powers, while entering into Asia and Africa, used to collide in Turkey, a country strategically located at the east-end of the Europe.
With the end of the Second World War, the international power equation shifted and the world was divided into two rival super powers, one led by the United States and another by the Soviet Union. The cold war featured proxy wars across the globe, West Asia being the major arena. Struggle between the super powers was focused on getting hold over West Asia. During the Cold War, West Asia was a vital region for both the super powers because of its location. First reason for its prominence is that West Asia is the place which harbors as much as 80 percent of known oil reserve. Second reason is Suez Canal, controlling which would compel others to walk under the controller's barrel of gun. The third, and the most important of all, is the strategic location of this region. This region is the nearest from all the major continents, i.e. Asia, Europe-including the Soviet Union, and Africa. This is why, the United States and the Soviet Union both tried struggled to get hold of this region. The result, continuous unrest in the region since the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.
The nature of the global power rivalry has changed with the demise of the Soviet Union. While there is no other power to challenge the lonely Super Power, the world's heartland has shifted from West Asia to the Himalayan Asia. Since 1999, United States has been increasing its presence in the Middle East, Korean peninsula, Africa, and South Asia. Remarkably, the increased US presence is the areas or territories which are in the periphery of China.
Nepal is located in a strategically significant position which is flanked by two emerging world powers - China and India. If China and India continue to develop in the way that they are doing today, they can be in a position to challenge the United States, not only economically, but probably militarily as well. It is this concern which has been prompting the Americans to avert the looming danger from China, in the short term and India, in the long run.
Because of its location sandwiched between global players and probable threats to the present-day super power - China and India, Nepal provides a suitable ground for visible as well as invisible strategic activities.
The current power rivalry, among regional powers and the lonely super power, for the quest of taking hold of this region, results that external powers have more to do in Nepali domestic politics, than Nepalis themselves do.