Indian Army Intervenes Against the Nepal People's War
Revolutionary Worker #1273, April 3, 2005
On February 28, Nepal's Royal Army, backed
up by the Indian army, inflicted serious losses on a contingent
of the Western Division of the Maoist People's Liberation
Army. This involvement of Indian soldiers in a major battle
against Maoist guerrillas in Nepal represents a new and alarming
development in the war.
On February 1, Nepal's King Gyanendra's declared
a state of emergency, dissolved the parliament, sacked the
prime minister and suspended many constitutional rights, including
freedom of the press, speech and expression, peaceful assembly,
the right to privacy, and the right against preventive detention.
The Indian government officially denounced this move by the
King and announced it was suspending military aid to the Nepalese
government. But meanwhile, on the ground, it appears that
India is not only still backing, but stepping up its support
for and involvement in the RNA efforts to crush the Maoist
The February 28 battle took place in Ganeshpur,
in Nepal's Bardia district. The A World to Win News Service
(AWTWNS) reported: "As the Maoist-led PLA ambushed a small
Royal Nepal Army unit on a major highway, they found themselves
surrounded by almost a thousand Royal Army soldiers and the
Indian army's Border Security Force. Together these reactionaries
encircled the PLA contingent, which numbered less than 200.
In a battle that lasted about an hour and a half, despite
being surrounded the PLA was able to resist the Indo-Nepali
forces and `protect its organisation, planning and its leadership,'
comrade Pravakar, the commander of the PLA Western Division
said in a statement. The 32 fallen PLA fighters included comrade
Jit, the Brigade Commander of the Satbaria Second Brigade
of the Western Division, he said. The Royal Army seized about
28 weapons from the revolutionaries. More than two dozen RNA
personnel were killed and many others wounded."
The statement by the commander of the PLA
Western Division, issued on February 3, also said that the
Indian Army's Border Security Force arrested seven Maoist
fighters and took them back to India. The Indian government
has arrested many Maoist revolutionaries in India and at the
border. But this is the first time the Indian Army has seized
Maoist guerrillas in a battle in Nepal.
According to the AWTWNS, the battle
began after guerrillas of the People's Liberation Army spotted
some Royal Nepal Army (RNA) soldiers in the Ganeshpur area
near Nepalganj road, which runs between Nepalganj and Gularia.
Gularia is about three miles from the Indian border and is
headquarters of the Bardia District. The city of Nepalganj,
about 25 miles to the west and only a couple of miles from
the Indian border, is the headquarters of the Bake District
and a business center for mid-western Nepal and northern India.
When the PLA saw an RNA unit west of Nepalganj,
they did not know that a thousand RNA soldiers from the two
nearby district headquarters had taken hidden positions around
the area. And the Maoist forces also did not know that Indian
Border Security Forces (BSF) were there to support the RNA.
When the battle started at 4:15 in the afternoon, the hidden
RNA soldiers tried to draw their trap tightly around the Maoist
guerrillas, who fought until they broke out of the encirclement.
Positional fighting lasted until 5:45.
Commander of the PLA Western Division Pravakar
said in his statement, "We consider this incident very serious.
The human and logistical losses have seriously affected the
Western Division... Since all war advances through a series
of gains and losses, our revolutionary war could not remain
untouched by that... having given serious thought to our shortcomings
in our analysis and synthesis of the comprehensive situation
of that particular battle, we have to embrace the fact that
we must advance through many sacrifices to turn the negative
to positive. This incident has also indicated that the scale
of war has developed to new heights."
King's Crimes and Censorship
Since his February 1 coup, King Gyanendra
has instituted a sweeping clampdown. (See RW #1268,
"Nepal: Two Futures, Two Roads"
by Li Onesto.) In the first weeks thousands of people were
jailed, and widespread arrests have continued with the detention
of members of the parliamentary parties, trade unions, student
groups, human rights activists and others.
Extreme and sweeping censorship measures
and a machinery of disinformation have been instituted. As
the king announced his seizure of power on the television,
soldiers were being sent out to occupy newspaper offices to
read over and censor news stories. Private radio stations
were ordered to stop broadcasting news and opinions and air
only entertainment programs. Some newspaper offices were raided
to prevent their publication, and journalists have been detained.
A press directive from the king said: "Invoking
Sub Clause 1 of Clause 15 of His Majesty's Print and Publications
Act, and taking into consideration the nation and national
interest, His Majesty's Government has banned for six months
any interview, article, news, notice, view or personal opinion
that goes against the letter and spirit of the Royal Proclamation
on 1 Feb 2005 and that directly or indirectly supports destruction
and terrorism. In line with the provisions of the Print and
Publications Act, action will be taken against anyone violating
So the media in Nepal is forbidden to criticize
the king and the RNA in any way—there can be no news or commentary
"made directly or indirectly" about the security forces "that
is likely to have negative impact on their morale." Violators
are subject to arrest and the government is monitoring telephones,
radio, fax and e-mail and other forms of electronic communication.
A number of websites have been blocked so they cannot be viewed
in Nepal, including:
(the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),
(Revolutionary Worker/Obrero Revolucionario)
Many news organizations in Nepal are self-censoring,
not even mentioning current events. Some publications have
run stories that do not immediately appear to be about what
is going on, but upon closer read clearly contain hidden political
commentary by analogy. Some publications have come out with
articles full of blank white spaces— where paragraphs have
been taken out by government censors.
All this has made it extremely hard to know
what is going on, especially in the countryside where the
RNA is stepping up its brutality against the people. Human
rights organizations have already documented widespread human
rights abuses by the king's army—the burning of villages,
on-the-spot executions, rape and torture. In 2003 and 2004,
the United Nations working group on disappearances said Nepal
had the highest rate of disappearances in the world. Local
human rights groups have documented that over the past five
years, more than 1,200 people have vanished—most of these
clearly at the hands of government forces.
Many news articles about the situation in
Nepal have pointed out that the extreme censorship will make
it easier for the king to carry out even more human rights
abuses, as well as spread all kinds of disinformation aimed
at propping up the RNA and vilifying the Maoists. After the
battle in Bardia, the monarchy falsely claimed that they had
killed 50 Maoists or more. Foreign news organizations repeated
this—even though they have few, if any, ways to verify such
reports. At the same time, official news reports of the battle
have suppressed any news of the number of dead RNA soldiers
and the fact that Indian soldiers were involved. The monarchy
knows that such news of Indian troop involvement would arouse
widespread anger and expose the king's capitulation to Indian
domination and expansionism.
Last December, the Indian army invaded Nepal
unofficially in the western part of Gularia, destroying houses
and committing abuses against Nepali women. On another occasion,
the Indian army arrested revolutionary cadres in Kanchanpur
district, in far western Nepal.
Indian Domination and U.S. Concerns
There is a long history of Indian economic
and political domination in Nepal, and India has long been
the main supplier of military aid to the RNA. And since the
Maoist People's War began in 1996, India has increasingly
provided Nepal's army with weapons, surveillance and communications
equipment, helicopters and training. The India Army has also
trained Nepali soldiers in jungle and guerrilla warfare at
India's Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School which
is regarded as one of the best jungle warfare establishments
in the world (even U.S. military personnel have trained here).
The military relationship between Nepal and
India is very much stamped with Indian domination, and all
this has intensified as India has become more worried that
the Maoists in Nepal could actually seize power. Even with
millions of dollars of military aid from the U.S., UK and
India, the RNA has been unable to defeat the Maoists who now
control and are running parallel governments in 80 percent
of the countryside.
There are around 50,000 Nepali Gurkhas in
the Indian Army today. Up until recent years this was more
than the total number of soldiers in the RNA. Now, with the
help of the U.S., UK and India, the RNA has increased its
force to around 70,000.
Since the 1970s, the chiefs of the Indian
and Nepalese armies are made honorary generals of each other's
army— ensuring that India's army of over a million soldiers
will dictate over the RNA. And until a few years ago, all
RNA officer cadres used to be trained in India. Only recently
Nepal's army set up its own military academy. But Nepal officers
and other ranks still undergo training in various defense
institutes of India. And in fact, Nepal army personnel constitute
the largest number of foreign soldiers training in India.
The Indian government has also played a big
role in hunting down, arresting and extraditing Nepalese Maoists
who are in India. Maoist guerrillas from Nepal who were being
treated in Indian hospitals have been arrested. And a number
of top leaders of the CPN (Maoist) have been picked up and
imprisoned by Indian authorities.
The Afterword of Dispatches from the
People's War in Nepal discusses the freedom and necessity
of India to intervene in Nepal and the geo-strategic dynamics
brought about by the growing Maoist insurgency:
"As part of the U.S. quest for world domination,
the `war on terrorism' serves as an all-purpose umbrella under
which numerous interventions are being justified. The political
and ideological program of the Maoists in Nepal clearly has
nothing in common with the reactionary politics and religious
fundamentalism of groups like al-Qaeda. But this hasn't stopped
the U.S. from using the pretext of `combating terror' to justify
military action against any and all insurgencies which threaten
U.S. interests — including genuine revolutions aimed at overthrowing
"The U.S., Britain, and other imperialist
powers have provided the Nepalese regime with political and
military support exactly because they know that a Maoist victory
would reverberate throughout the Indian subcontinent and the
world. This is a region of extreme instability where a Maoist
`regime change' in Nepal could interact in unpredictable ways
with the hostility between Pakistan and India, the conflict
in Kashmir, relations between India and China, and other guerrilla
insurgencies in the region, especially those in India.
"The often antagonistic relationship between
India and China is certainly a factor in this developing scenario.
Nepal is strategically situated between the Tibetan region
of China and the northern border of India. Because of this,
both of these major powers view Nepal as a kind of `buffer,'
over which each has jockeyed for influence and power as a
way of challenging and defending against the other.
"India would be seriously threatened by a
government in Kathmandu run by Maoists (who have already stated
that one of the key goals of their revolution is to end Indian
domination). And the New Delhi government worries that China
would try to take advantage of any kind of upheaval in Nepal
to strengthen its hand against India and in the whole region."
All this has been intensified by King Gyanendra's
extreme move on February 1. The Indian government has been
in constant, daily contact with Washington DC and London.
And when Condoleezza Rice recently visited India for state-to-state
talks, Nepal was on the agenda.
On March 2, Donald Camp, Principal Deputy
Assistant Secretary in the South Asia Bureau of the Department
of State, went before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee
onInternational Relationsto defend the administration's decision
to continue providing U.S. military assistance to Nepal on
the grounds that the support is necessary to ensure the effectiveness
of the security forces against the insurgency. Camp said,
"Nepal confronts the real possibility that a brutal Maoist
insurgency might seize power" and "The United States shares
with other friends of Nepal—particularly India and the United
Kingdom—the firm belief that the Maoist insurgency must be
resisted and addressed." And the U.S. Ambassador to India,
David Mulford, recently stated that the U.S. wants India to
play a "leading role" in Nepal in the wake of recent developments.
All this underscores the significance and
dangerous direction indicated by the recent involvement of
Indian soldiers, joining the RNA in battle against the People's
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolution
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