The blood-curdling “Ayo Gorkhali” battle-cry, backed by the sharp-edged khukris, may soon lose its long-standing welcome resonance in the Indian Army, with the Nepalese government once again moving strongly towards banning the recruitment of Gorkhas in Indian army after strong public reaction to the constant discretion of the dead bodies of Gorkha soldiers in Indian army by Indians, reveal the investigations of The Daily Mail.
According to The Daily Mail’s investigations a strong ire erupted amongst different units of Indian army after Greater Nepal Nationalist Front posted a video on social media in Kathmandu a few days back, exposing the height of discrimination of Gorkha Soldiers in the Indian army despite highly acknowledged contributions of Gorkha soldiers of Nepal, serving in Indian army. The discriminations mount to the throwing away and even desecration of the dead bodies of Indian army’s Gorkha soldiers by the Indians in battle fields and even during certain drills. The GNNF’s video, narrating the plight of Gorkha soldiers in Indian army, focuses on a recent incident of one Ran Bahadur Gurung, a very brave and celebrated Gorkha soldier of Indian army. The GNNF video elaborates that Ran Bahadur Gurung sacrificed his life in the honorable tradition of his proud race. In a far away land of Kupwara District in Occupied Kashmir, the Indian Army performed his cremation. What was handed over of him to his loved ones waiting back home in Nepal was not his body, but a compact disk with the recording of his last rites and no none knows what happened to Gurrung’s dead body eventually. The video highlights that this was not an isolated incident but in fact this was a routine matter in India.
The GNNF’s social media video further explains that while Indian Army takes utmost pains to bring back bodies of fallen soldiers of Indian origin, Gorkhas are not considered privileged enough, laying lives for a country they had been looking up to. It further elaborates that despite employing Gorkha Battalions on the front lines of toughest terrains to fight India’s neighbors, Indian Army provides no opportunity for Gorkha soldiers to make it to officers’ cadre. Gorkha soldiers in the PBOR cadre are also employed only in general duty roles and not considered worthy of technical and specialized roles due to a severe trust deficit.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that where this video sparked a huge row within the Indian army, there it also gave birth to a great controversy across Nepal and general people came out with immense anti-India sentiments, forcing government of Nepal to strongly consider a move to bring an end to any further recruitment of any Nepali in Indian army.
Very well placed and highly reliable sources say that Indian defense establishment is watching with a great concern the Nepali government’s reaction and move to eventually halt the recruitment of Gorkhas in Indian army in a fresh bid in line with the earlier recommendations of its parliament’s report “Nepal’s Foreign policy in the Changed Context, 2012”.
On the other side, a number of social circles, human rights organizations and media bodies including Nepal Journalists Association (NJA) and Human Rights Journalists Association ( HURJA),Nepal have paid rich tributes to the chivalry and bravery of the Gorkha soldiers in Indian army and elsewhere and have strongly condemned the discrimination of Gorkha soldiers by anyone, anywhere under any circumstances.
President of Nepal Journalists Association Dr. Manju Ratna Sakya, talking to The Daily Mail said that Gorkhas were symbol of chivalry and pride for the entire Nepali nation and their historic contributions of chivalry in the battlefields were globally acknowledged and recognized and any discrimination and insult of any Gorkha soldier was deemed to be the insult and discrimination of the entire Nepali nation.
“But this is not the case of Gorkha soldiers only. It’s a case of the fate of Nepal. While a large part of Nepal is under occupation from India, voices are now gaining momentum which call for breaking the shackles of Indian hegemony in Nepal”, said Raj Bahadur, a veteran journalist and senior member of NJA, the neutral and highly active med body of Nepali journalists.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further indicate that over 25,000 Nepalese are currently serving in the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha Rifles (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th), each of which has five to six battalions (800 to 1,000 soldiers each), drawing basically from Rais and Limbus of Eastern Nepal and Gurungs and Magars from the West.
They make up almost 70% of the Gorkha Regiment, while “Indian domiciled Gorkhas” from places like Dehradun, Darjeeling and Dharamshala constitute the rest. There are roughly another 20,000 Gorkhas in Indian paramilitary and police forces like Assam Rifles while India is supposed to look after over 80,000 ex-servicemen, 17,000 retired Assam Rifles personnel and 11,000 widows in Nepal but no welfare plan has ever been introduced in this direction by successive Indian governments and military leaderships, other than routine pensions.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that British Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments won a dozen Victoria Crosses and other top laurels in World War I and II, before they were divided between the British and Indian armies in 1947.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that a couple of years back, taking exceptional notice of discrimination of Gorkha soldiers in Indian army, Nepal’s Maoist Chief, Prachanda had very strongly objected to further recruitment of Gorkhas in Indian army and called for a comprehensive ban by Kathmandu in this direction. He told reporters that Nepali Gorkhas should not be allowed to join Indian defense forces.
“Nepali Gorkhas have been part of the Indian Army for a very long time. If they are stopped from joining the army then the association between the armies and also the countries will be affected,” says former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ved Prakash Malik.
“Besides the large number of Nepali Gorkha soldiers, we also have a large number of pensioners in the country. We have opened hospitals and other facilities at Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal,” Malik told The Daily Mail to a query in this direction. “In some villages in eastern Nepal, about half of the families have one or more pensioners from the Indian Army”, he added. However Malik had no befitting reply to the issue of the plight of 11000 widows of Gorkha soldiers back in Nepal and to the issues like the Ran Bahadur Gurung episode.
“The Indian Army and the British Army, which also has a Gorkha regiments are a major source of employment for Nepali youth. There can be unrest in the Himalayan kingdom, leading to a big problem if Nepal introduces such a ban. At the same time, such a move by Kathmandu would earn it a huge unemployment crisis,” former Indian Army Chief asserted further.
A senior serving 3-star General of the Indian army, who wished not to be quoted, told The Daily Mail the Nepali Gorkha soldiers send a lot of money back home, contributing in a big way to the Nepali economy. “If such a move is ever materialized by Nepal under any public or political pressure, it would give birth to huge financial losses to average Nepalese while the Indian Army would not be affected operationally as the army has already reduced considerably the number of Gorkhas”, he said
Besides impacting the age-old ties between the two nations, Nepali people’s demand, if acceded to, can lead to anarchy in Nepal due to large-scale unemployment, threaten military experts here in Delhi.
The formation of Nepal’s Gorkha soldiers in Indian army is as under:
1 Gorkha Rifles 5 battalions (previously 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles [The Malaun Regiment]).
3 Gorkha Rifles 5 battalions (previously 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles).
4 Gorkha Rifles 5 battalions (previously 4th Prince of Wales’s Own Gurkha Rifles).
5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) 6 battalions (previously 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles [Frontier Force]).
8 Gorkha Rifles 6 battalions.
9 Gorkha Rifles 6 battalions.
11 Gorkha Rifles 7 battalions and one TA battalion (107 Infantry Battalion (11GR) (raised after the independence of India).
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— The Daily Mail - People's Daily