KATHMANDU, June 5: The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has rejected a proposal from the Nepal Army (NA) headquarters to extend the terms of Major General Deepak Prasad Bharati and brigadier generals Surya Khanal and Prem Shahi citing some discrepancies in their citizenship details and academic credentials.
Major General Bharati, the head of the Master General of Ordnance, a division in the army that oversees logistics and procurement issues, was retiring Monday. Bharati previously worked as General Officer in Commanding (GOC) of NA’s far western command and several other key positions.
MoD Secretary Bishnu Lamsal declined to specify exact reasons behind the ministry’s rejection of the proposal but sources said that there were some discrepancies in Bharati’s citizenship details. They said Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel had refused to take the proposal to the cabinet meeting for the same reason.
“Sunday was the deadline to approve the proposal. Now that the deadline has passed means they would be retiring,” said a source close to Pokharel.
In a letter dispatched to MoD a few days ago, acting Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Purna Chandra Thapa had asked the ministry to extend Bharati’s tenure to allow him to remain in service for two more years.
MoD’s rejection of Bharati’s tenure has raised some eyebrows both inside and outside the NA because he was considered close to CoAS General Rajendra Chhetri. MoD officials said that there was relentless lobbying from the NA headquarters to extend the tenure.
Though rare, it is not unusual for the ministry to reject such proposals. The MoD had refused to extend the terms of various NA staffers in the past as well.
Officials said the MoD’s rejection of the NA proposal was much needed move because of “rampant use of fake birth certificates and education certificates” inside NA. Of late, the government has been acting tough on discrepancies in birth certificates of officials. Former Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli was relieved after discrepancies were found in his date of birth.
CoAS Chhetri himself faces allegation of forging his birth certificate, a claim he denies. Despite complaints over widespread use of fake certificates, neither the government nor the NA headquarters has carried out serious investigations. In 2013, NA reportedly formed a probe panel to investigate into the academic certificate of the then brigadier general Hem Khatri but the findings were never made public.