Kathmandu, May 20: Amid speculation that the Indian government is using Left allies to establish contact with Nepalís Maoists, the Royal Nepal Army today alleged New Delhi had invited rebel leader Prachanda alias Pushpa Kamal Dahal for talks.
Top officers of the army played an audio tape at a hastily convened news conference this afternoon, in which a man, whom it identified as Prachanda, is heard telling his cadre that New Delhi has called him for talks.
The allegation came two days after the Dubai-based Gulf News reported that three leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, including its legendary commander Baburam Bhattarai, were in Delhi this week. They met intelligence officials as well as CPM chief Prakash Karat and his CPI counterpart A.B. Bardhan, the newspaper added.
In the tape, the man claims Delhi stalled the release of top Maoist leaders C.P. Gajurel and Mohan Baidya, both in Indian prisons, after Prachanda stripped his deputy Bhattarai of his official post. He implies that Delhi wants Bhattarai to be reinstated as he is one of the few Maoist leaders with a pro-India tilt.
Bhattarai studied in the Delhi School of Planning and Architecture and the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The Nepal armyís director general of operations, Major General Kiran Shumsher Thapa, said several audio tapes and documents were captured during counter-insurgency operations after February 1, when King Gyanendra assumed power, declaring emergency. It is believed that the army played the same tape during a media briefing earlier by editing out the remarks about India as New Delhi was toying with the idea of resuming arms supplies.
Analysts believe the fuller tape was played once again today as the army wants to pressure India into resuming the military supplies suspended after the February 1 royal coup.
The Indian embassy questioned the authenticity of the tape and said the allegations were false, baseless and far-fetched. It said Delhi had been consistently helping the Nepal army to face challenges posed by the Maoist insurgency.
The Gulf News report said Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Kishan Pykural accompanied Bhattarai to the India talks with Prachandaís mandate.