Army Chief Gen M M Naravane, who is on a three-day trip to Nepal, was Thursday conferred the rank of Honorary General of the Nepal Army by President Bidya Devi Bhandari. He was presented with a scroll and a sword during the investiture ceremony at the President’s office attended by Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Indian Ambassador Vinay M Kwatra.
This tradition—of each country bestowing the honorary title on the Army Chief of the other—goes back decades. Commander-in-Chief Gen KM Cariappa was the first Indian Army chief to be decorated with this title in 1950. The Chief of the Nepal Army, Gen Purna Chandra Thapa, was earlier given the same rank by President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony in New Delhi.
Earlier in the day, Naravane, who arrived in Kathmandu on Wednesday, visited the Nepal Army headquarters and met his counterpart to discuss “Army-to-Army relations and bilateral defence cooperation”, the Indian Embassy in Nepal said in a statement.
The Army Chief will use the trip, in which he will also meet Oli, to strengthen ties between the two nations—which have been somewhat strained since early this year over the Lipulekh dispute.
The row arose after India inaugurated a road from Dharchula to Lipulekh Pass near the India, Nepal and China trijunction, cutting short the distance to Kailash Mansarovar. Nepal objected to the road and issued a map that showed Lipulekh within Nepal.
In mid-May, Naravane had said that he was not sure what Nepal was “agitating about” as the road constructed by India was to the west of the Kali river, which serves as the border between the two nations. —With inputs from ENS Delhi
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