India ends eightyear- old ban, starts supplying arms to Nepal

KATHMANDU (TIP): Ending an eight-year-old ban on military supplies, India has handed over some of the equipment, including vehicles and arms, it had pledged to provide to Nepal ahead of crucial polls to be held next month. Over 360 vehicles, including 25 mine-protected vehicles, have already arrived while arms and ammunition, which are in the pipeline, will come soon, sources in the Nepalese army headquarters said on October 22. This is the first time that military equipment is being provided to Nepal by India after ending a ban on the supply of such gear, including lethal arms, that was imposed when former King Gyanendra seized executive powers in February 2005, said a statement issued by army headquarters. Nepal has said the equipment is needed by 62,000 troops who will provide security for the constituent assembly elections to be held on November 19. The country recently amended its constitution to allow the army to be mobilized to ensure free and fair polls. The equipment provided by India so far includes 216 light vehicles, 154 heavy vehicles and some arms. Among the heavy vehicles are 58 trucks with a capacity of 7.5 tonnes, four ambulances and 25 mine-protected vehicles, sources said. The assistance will help smoothen regular operations of the Nepal Army, modernize the force and increase its efficiency for military operations, the official statement said. “This will also help in strengthening and further deepening Nepal-India mutual cooperation,” it said. India had agreed to provide the equipment during the tenth meeting of the Bilateral Consultative Group on Security Issues in April.

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