Kathmandu: Nepal has for now stalled the recruitment of Gorkhas in the Indian Army under Agnipath scheme, putting a question mark on the future of a practice that began 75 years ago. The practice of Army chiefs of the two countries being the Honorary General of the other side on reciprocal basis is as old as Gorkha recruitment in the Indian Army. Indian army chief Gen Manoj Pande on September 5 for this purpose coincides with the emerging uncertainty over recruitment of Nepal-domiciled Gorkhas into the Indian Army as ‘Agniveers’.
Nepal’s Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka informed India’s ambassador to Nepal Naveen Srivastava that recruitment of Gorkhas under Agnipath scheme does not follow with provisions of the tripartite agreement signed by Nepal, India and Britain on November 9, 1947, does not recognise India’s new recruitment policy under Agnipath scheme, and thus Nepal will “require to assess the impact of the new arrangement”. Khadka is learnt to have said that Kathmandu will take a final decision on the issue after wider consultation with political parties and all stakeholders.
As a result, the month-long recruitment process, which will conclude on September 29 at different centres across Nepal, has been stalled indefinitely. New Delhi had approached Kathmandu six weeks ago for cooperation and approval for the recruitment, taking place after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The state relations committee of the Nepal Parliament, which was scheduled to discuss different issues, including the Agnipath scheme and its impact on Gorkha recruitment, was adjourned due to a lack of lower limit.
Minister Khadka said it is necessary to gather opinions of all sides, including that of major political parties and stakeholders. This is not a final decision of the government. We will get back to India after a broader understanding is formed. Recruitment of Gorkhas from Nepal began in the British Indian army after the Treaty of Sagauli was signed in 1816 between the government of Nepal and the British East India Company. It became a tripartite arrangement in November 1947 after India became independent and Gorkhas in Nepal were given a choice to serve in the Indian Army or go to the UK.