From The Nepali Press
Jana Astha, 3 September
FROM ISSUE #161 (05 SEPT 2003 - 11 SEPT 2003) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Pilots of the Royal Nepal Airlines Corporations hadn't imagined flying in weapons would be part of the job. Last year Captain Hari Sundar Shrestha and co-pilot Shuva Raj Shrestha brought in three tons of weapons that the Sher Bahadur Deuba government had bought from Belgium. At first they flatly declined the mission. They pointed out they needed special route permits from Iran, Pakistan and India. The Belgian company, which was required to obtain the permits, failed to do so. The two denied signing documents early last month that they would fly the weapons into Nepal. What if the three nations-whose airspace they would be violating-came to know about the cargo? They were also worried by the possibility of discovery if the plane was forced to land in India. On 7 August RA 203 landed in Kathmandu, but the cargo did not escape the vigilant eyes of Indian spies at Tribhuban International Airport. The Indian government has already started gathering information about the weapons from various government agencies in the country. Sher Bahadur Deuba clinched the deal a year ago when he had told the people he was on his way to the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. He ordered 5,500 rifles, pocketed a hefty commission but was unable to import the weapons because of procedural glitches. The onus to get the weapons then fell on the Lokendra Bahadur Chand government. But a disagreement between the supplier and the cargo handlers extended the import process, drawing it out till after the Thapa government took charge.