10 May 2005

It's official: India to send arms to Nepal

10 May 2005
The Hindu

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It's official: India to send arms to Nepal

Siddharth Varadarajan

CCS cleared first shipment on Friday

NEW DELHI: The on-again, off-again status of arms supplies to Nepal has finally been resolved with the Manmohan Singh Government clearing the immediate dispatch of materiel "already in the pipeline." This means supplies approved when India suspended military assistance following King Gyanendra's seizure of power on February 1.

The Hindu has learnt that the decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security at a meeting on Friday.

According to well-placed sources, the CCS also resolved to place the question of future arms shipments to Nepal "under constant review."

An understanding on the resumption of arms supplies — and a "road-map" for the restoration of political processes in Nepal — was reached between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and King Gyanendra in the Indonesian capital on April 23. But a question mark hung over the issue with the arrest soon thereafter of Sher Bahadur Deuba and other senior Nepali leaders on charges of "corruption."

When King Gyanendra lifted the state of emergency on April 30, India welcomed the decision. Privately, however, senior officials here saw it as an example of the King making a virtue out of necessity: under the 1990 Constitution of Nepal he could not have prolonged the Emergency without the endorsement of Parliament. Reports reaching the South Block subsequently also made it clear that emergency-like conditions continue to prevail in Nepal with the King now placing travel restrictions on politicians, journalists and other critics of the coup.

If this negative assessment of the King's commitment to the restoration of democracy forced a eleventh-hour rethink, the Indian armed forces' strong representations in favour of sending weapons to the Royal Nepal Army appear to have eventually carried the day.

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