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India Mulls Military Intervention In Nepal

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.earlywarning.com/articles/2005_05_05_india_mulls_intervention India Mulls Intervention Nepal on the brink 5 May, 2005 There is a growing possibility
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2005
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      http://www.earlywarning.com/articles/2005_05_05_india_mulls_intervention
      India Mulls Intervention

      Nepal on the brink

      5 May, 2005

      There is a growing possibility of direct Indian
      intervention in Nepal, the impoverished Himalayan
      state of some 27 million people to its north.

      The subject came up privately in recent talks between
      China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and his Indian
      opposite number, Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.

      China has in the past quietly helped the Maoist
      insurgents that have challenged the country's
      autocratic King Gyanendra as a means of maintaining
      pressure on India, its traditional Asian geopolitical
      rival.

      Alarm

      But Beijing is now alarmed by the possibility that a
      radical and murderous Pol Pot-style insurgency could
      gain power in Kathmandu which might radicalise
      elements of Chinese politics.

      China is now ready to accept that Nepal lies in
      India's sphere of influence just as the Indians now
      privately accept China's domination of Tibet.

      The possibility of Indian military intervention arises
      from the growing alarm in New Delhi about three
      developments in the mountain kingdom:

      The increasing strength of the insurgents

      The decision in February by the unpopular King to sack
      the Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, dissolve
      parliament and declare martial law Links between
      Nepal's Maoists and insurgent groups in some Indian
      states.

      Repression

      New Delhi has very little faith in Gyanendra's ability
      to control the insurgency.

      His decision to lift the three-month-old state of
      emergency this week is more of a bow to international
      pressure than a sign of strength.

      The Maoists are likely to step up their attacks.

      India fears that the King has lost the support he
      needs to dominate the rebels. Nearly half Nepal's
      population already supports Marxist parties, albeit of
      a more moderate hue than the insurgents.

      The Indians, along with the United States and the
      British, have been the main providers of military aid
      to Nepal, helping to build up the army from 45,00 to
      78,000. The expansion is causing widespread problems
      of
      indiscipline owing to a shortage of trained officers.

      Maoist insurgency

      The insurgent forces have grown to around 12,000
      guerrillas.

      They control huge swathes of the countryside and have
      turned other areas into a no-man's land where they
      roam at will, attacking isolated police and government
      posts and kidnapping tens of thousands of children -
      8,000
      last year alone. These young people are forced into
      indoctrination camps with a view to making them
      fighters.

      Around 11,000 people have died in the confrontation.

      The new US ambassador in Kathmandu, James Moriarty,
      believes there is a real possibility that a Maoist
      government will take over.

      Equipped with a primitive leveller creed, the Maoists
      are brutal in the extreme and would undoubtedly
      enforce harsh totalitarian rule.

      This is not a prospect which either India or the
      United States can tolerate.

      King

      King Gyanendra, who took power after the massacre of
      the royal family in June 2001 by the drunken and
      crazed Crown Prince, hardly seems the man to defeat
      the Maoists.

      His seizure of power this spring - the second in two
      years after he was forced to reappoint the Prime
      Minister - was designed to give him a free hand in
      what he says will be a three-year campaign to defeat
      the rebels and restore democracy.

      He has viciously cracked down on the press and
      political opponents and broken up peaceful
      demonstrations.

      Some 1,200 people have "disappeared", according to the
      Nepal Human Rights Commission - the real figure is
      believed to be much higher.

      Arbitrary arrests and torture are common.

      Terror

      India denounced the February coup as a serious setback
      to the cause of
      democracy, and suspended military aid, as did Britain.
      Washington is calling for a return to constitutional
      rule, but has
      continued supplying weaponry.

      There are few signs that the King���s policy of
      fighting terror with terror is stopping the rebel
      advance ��� while alienating the population.

      Nor does he seem much concerned with the fundamental
      problem of poverty - four-fifths of the people live
      off the land and average income is $130 a year. Nearly
      half the population is below the poverty line.

      Indian moves

      The Indian government looks likely to give Gyanendra
      only a few months to show if he can resolve the Maoist
      problem through military means and repression.

      If he fails, New Delhi will envisage:

      installing a more moderate member of the depleted
      royal family (Gyanendra's son and heir apparent is
      widely disliked for his thuggish nature) or ousting
      the monarchy altogether, though that will be
      problematic in
      a country where the King is revered by many as the
      incarnation of Vishnu, the Hindu god of protection.

      Intervention

      Washington might view Indian intervention favourably,
      as they are lukewarm supporters of the King and are
      concerned that human rights abuses will make backing
      the monarchy against the guerrillas more difficult.

      The intervention of effective Indian army units in
      place of the often ill-trained Nepalese army might
      quickly turn the tables on the Maoists.

      But New Delhi would have to pledge to respect Nepal's
      independence. Otherwise many nationalistic Nepalese
      could be driven into the arms of the guerrillas.

      Campaign

      The Indians still hope to avoid direct involvement.

      But neither they nor the Americans are prepared to
      tolerate a Maoist take-over.

      Britain's military aid is conditional on respect for
      human rights.

      If Beijing turns a blind eye, India may engage in a
      limited campaign to defeat the guerrillas, and restore
      democracy and constitutional order.

      They would then hope to be able to withdraw reasonably
      quickly, being seen as restorers of peace.
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