Nepal Defence Minster hits back at Indian Army Chief, says Gurkhas insulted, will ‘fight if necessary’

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‘Nepali Gurkha army who lay down lives for India have been insulted’

The Indian Army chief’s comments on the Kalapani dispute had hurt the sentiments of Nepali Gurkhas who have a long tradition of sacrifice for India, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwor Pokhrel said on Monday.

With the relationship between Nepal and India precariously placed on account of a dispute over land high in the mountains, Nepal’s Defence Minister today accused the Indian Army chief of insulting his country.

Last week, Indian Army chief General MM Naravane said that Nepal’s strident objections to a new road being built in Uttarakhand is “at the behest of someone else”. The allusion to China was clear.

In an interview to online news outlet The Rising Nepal, he said General Manoj Naravane’s indirect reference to alleged Chinese hand behind the diplomatic spat was “condemnable” and the Nepal army would fight if necessary.

“Such a statement is an insulting statement made by ignoring Nepal’s history, our social characteristics and freedom. With this, the Indian CoAS (Army chief) has also hurt the sentiments of the Nepali Gurkha army personnel who lay down their lives to protect India. It must now become difficult for them to stand tall in front of the Gurkha forces,” Nepal’s Defence minister Ishwor Pokhrel said in a local newspaper today, according to news agency ANI.

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“How professional is it for the head of the Army to make a political statement? We don’t have anything like that here. Nepali Army does not go vocal on such matters. The army is not there to speak,” Nepal’s Defence Minister said today.

The Gurkhas of Nepal have a proud tradition of valour in the Indian armed forces dating back to pre-Independence era and were usually kept out of India-Nepal disputes.

There are at least 40 battalions of Gurkhas in the Indian Army, which draws a bulk of the soldiers from Nepal.

Nepal claims the territory under an 1816 treaty with the East India Company which sets the Kali as its western boundary with India and says the land lying east of the river is its territory.

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“All the territories east of Kali (Mahakali) river, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh, belong to Nepal,” its officials have said.

India has rejected Nepal’s “unilateral act” saying it was not based on historical facts and evidence.

Ruling Nepal Communist Party lawmakers have also tabled a special resolution in parliament demanding the return of Nepal’s territory in Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh, a report in nepalese news outlet said.

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The Nepali PM has said in parliament that he will “bring back at any cost” the three territories. He also blamed India for infecting Nepal with coronavirus.


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