Tuesday, June 18, 2024

PM to discuss envoy appointment with Nepali counterpart


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 From Our Special Correspondent

 NEW DELHI: When Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh meets his Nepali counterpart in at the SAARC summit in Maldives he will discuss a peculiar problem with him- appointment of Kathmandu’s next envoy, a Maoist to New Delhi who had once had links with insurgent outfits of India’s Northeast.

As if this was not enough Mr Ram Karki was even arrested and handed over by the Indian police and served jail term in his once home country. His appointment was also rejected by the UPA Government for the same post when former Maoist Nepali Prime Minister appointed him.

The proposed new Nepali ambassador to India Ram Karki was once suspected to have links with underground organizations of Northeast.

Mr Karki known as Partha Chhetri is a senior Maoist leader and top of that married to woman from Sikkim. To add to the Government’s headache, more reports are coming about the expanding links between the Indian Maoists and the insurgent outfits of Northeast.

The post of ambassador is laying vacant for months since the former one who was appointed by the previous Government was recalled by the new one in the ever changing political system of the former Himalayan Kingdom.

Mr Karki had lived in West Bengal and New Delhi during the “People’s War” and was arrested by Indian police and handed over to Nepal to serve a jail term. He was released after the government started peace negotiations with the Maoists in 2003. When the Maoists first came to power in Nepal in 2008 after winning the election, the then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s cabinet nominated Karki, in his 50s, as the ambassador to India. But India objected to the proposal on the strength of its intelligence reports that Karki had links to Indian insurgent groups in the Northeast and the subsequent fall of the government led to Nepali Congress nominee Rukma Shumsher Rana get the coveted diplomatic post.

The current Maoist Prime Minister, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, enjoys better relations with the Indian government than Prachanda, and Bhattarai will meet , Dr Singh in Maldives on the sidelines of the upcoming SAARC Summit. Karki’s appointment however will come through only after a parliamentary committee holds a hearing on the issue and gives him a clean bill of health.

Besides Karki’s nomination, Mr Bhattarai, hours before he left for Maldives, took two other decisions which too are expected to trigger controversies. The government, dismissing calls by rights organisations and civil society, has decided to pardon a Maoist MP, Mr Balkrishna Dhungel, who was convicted of murder during the insurgency. Though the Supreme Court sentenced him to life, the Maoist government has been trying to grant Mr Dhungel amnesty, saying the case was politically motivated.

With the cabinet deciding to exonerate the sitting MP, President Mr Ram Baran Yadav, the constitutional head, will now be asked to pardon Mr Dhungel.

It creates a piquant situation for the president, who had faced another difficult situation in 2009 when the Maoist government tried to sack the army chief and Mr Yadav stepped in to reinstate the sacked general.


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