NEW DELHI:The new Agnipath scheme to recruit troops (Agniveers) into the Indian armed forces has drawn flak in Nepal. The concern is it will affect the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers into the Indian Army with the resultant impact on jobs and pensions in the long run. The politicians have also stepped in, hoping to use the controversy as leverage against India.
Lt. Gen. Shokin Chauhan, who served in a Gorkha regiment and was defence attache at the Indian embassy in Kathmandu, believes Delhi needs to do more and better outreach when dealing with issues that affect immediate neighbours.
He said while Nepal’s concerns about employment and pensions are legitimate, the Agnipath recruitment scheme does not violate the Tripartite Treaty signed between India, the UK and Nepal on recruitment of Gorkha soldiers. All it requires is for India to treat Nepali Gorkha on equal basis with Indian troops, and this remains under the Agnipath scheme.
But he warns that countries like China may use this to muddy the waters against India. What if tomorrow China seeks to recruit Gorkha soldiers?, he asks. That could destroy the India Nepal relationship.