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Nepal’s post-election government to decide on recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in Indian Army: official

The decision on the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme will be taken by the next Government that comes to power after November 20

The Nepali government will not take any decision on the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme anytime soon. 

Sewa Lamsal, the foreign ministry spokesperson, told a media briefing that the government will leave the matter to the new government once that comes to power after the upcoming general elections scheduled for November 20.

“The current decision of the government of Nepal means this issue will be considered only after the elections. No talks will be held immediately. But, the Indian government might have its own perception on the matter,” the spokesperson said.

The Agnipath scheme unveiled by the Indian government in June this year is the only mode of recruitment of soldiers into the Indian Army. This will be also applicable to the Nepal’s Gorkha soldiers. According to the Agnipath scheme, only 25 per cent of the personnel will be retained as the permanent force after four years.

Nepal’s statement comes a day after the Indian media reports quoted India’s Army chief General Manoj Pande as saying that Nepal will have to decide quickly on the issue or else the quota will be “redistributed”.

Responding to a question at a session in the United Service Institute of India, General Pande said the vacancies allocated to Nepali Gurkhas will have to be “redistributed” to others for the time being if Kathmandu does not allow recruitment as per the laid-down cut off dates, the Times of India reported on Thursday.

The Indian Army will induct a total 40,000 Agniveers in two batches after the recruitment and selection process across India is complete. In Nepal, it plans to train around 25,000 youths starting in December and 15,000 in February, the news report further said.

The short stint and the lack of pension are the two concerns of Nepal with regards to the Gorkha recruitment under the Agnipath scheme and they have been communicated to the Indian government through diplomatic channels, according to Nepali officials privy to the development.

In the fourth week of August, Nepal’s foreign ministry communicated to the Indian government that it requires some time to hold discussion among key political parties on the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army.

Upon the request of Nepal, India delayed the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army. However, India clearly communicated to the Nepali side that it is looking forward to continuing the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers under the Agnipath scheme.

“We have been recruiting Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army for a long time. And we look forward to continuing to recruit Gorkha soldiers to the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme,” India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a press conference in New Delhi after Nepal’s communication.

Recruitment of Gorkhas under the short-term hiring scheme for the Indian military was scheduled to begin in Nepal’s Butwal city on August 24. However, that has been suspended after Nepal sought additional time.

Also Read: Nepal keen to break common ground with India on Agnipath scheme during Army Chief’s visit

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Special Correspondent based in Kathmandu, Nepal)