India sending 70 security personnel to Nepal, fully armed with modern weapons, to protect Pranab Mukherjee

Men from Nepal Army’s special commando unit patrol near the venue of the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, April 2014 I Photo: RSS (Part of an original picture by photojournalist Kumar Shrestha)

30 October 2016: India is sending at least 70 fully armed security personnel to Nepal to provide extra protection for Pranab Mukherjee who is arriving in Kathmandu on November 2 on a three-day state visit.

The members of the Indian security detail would carry ultra modern weapons like “Colt” and “briefcase” guns, Kantipur journalist KP Dhungana reported on Sunday.

Nepal officials came to know about the Indian arrangement only recently, it is understood, when an AIG level officer from New Delhi led a “recce” to Nepal to take stock of the preparation for the presidential visit. The Indian team reportedly visited Pokhara and Janakpur – two regional hubs President Mukherjee is due to visit.

The Indian officers would team up with elite Nepal Army commandos to provide close security to Mr Mukherjee, the report further said.

“We have been advised that Indian security personnel are arriving along with President Mukherjee. At our end, we have already finalised a security strategy according to which soldiers would be deployed for the inner security cordon,” an unidentified source within Nepal’s Ministry of Home was quoted as saying.

Nepal has mobilised its entire security organs  – Nepal Police, Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and National Investigation Bureau – to put in place a four-tier security strategy for the protection of the Indian president. Despite this “A” class security measure, Indian government is sending its 70 personnel to protect its president while he tours the neighbouring mountain nation.

Analysts believe the additional security on the part of the Indian government could be the result of the current security situation of the entire South Asian region, in particular, the Indo-Pak relations.

India is also sending its own bullet proof cars to be used by Pranab Mukherjee – one each for Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur.

Mr Mukherjee’s visit comes after nearly two decades since one of his predecessors, K R Narayanan, visited the Himalayan nation. The year was 1997.

Indo-Nepal relations, which have seen pretty rough and low points in recent times, are expected to get a fresh start on the heel of the presidential tour. At least that’s what South Asia-watchers are hoping for now.

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