New Delhi, Feb 21: In commemoration of India’s late Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, a bell has been placed at Nepal’s revered Shree Muktinath Temple.
The bell named “Bipin Bell,” has been installed at the revered Hindu temple in Mustang district during the visit of four former Indian army chiefs namely Gen VN Sharma, Gen JJ Singh, Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen Dalbir Suhag.
The four Indian Army generals reached Muktinath Temple on Sunday where they paid tribute to late Bipin Rawat and placed bell on the temple premises. The bell was arranged by Nepali Army as a courtesy.
“India’s Defence Chief Rawat was interested to visit Muktinath in 2021 and had also made a plan. But his untimely demise in a tragic helicopter crash could not that happen,” two people familiar with the matter told India Narrative.
Late Rawat’s connection with Nepal and Nepali people was deep being the officer of Gurkha Regiment. Rawat received the honorary general title of the Nepali Army when he paid a visit to Nepal at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart Rajendra Chhetri.
Krishna Prasad Bhandari, a spokesperson for Nepali Army, said that the “Bipin Bell” is not just a tribute to late Rawat but also symbolizes the decades-long ties between the two militaries.
“Bipin Bell” has been installed at the Muktinath temple premises which holds huge significance for Hindus across the world. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited this temple in 2018 when he paid a visit to Nepal. Thousands of Indian pilgrims visit Muktinath to offer prayer and worship every year.
The four former chiefs of Indian Army attended the 260th Nepali Army Day celebrations on Saturday, where the Indian Army band from 11 Gorkha Rifles made their first-ever performance.
The spectacular ceremony was witnessed by Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, leaders from the ruling and opposition parties, lawmakers, chiefs of security agencies, and high-ranking government officials.
The Nepali Army Day included a display by battalions from across their Army, gun salutes, music from a Nepali Army band, presentation of colours, helicopter fly past and a drive past of some of the vehicles and equipment used by the Nepali Army.
Chiefs’ Conclave in Kathmandu
The former Indian Army chiefs interacted with the former Nepali Army chiefs during a conference titled “Chiefs’ Conclave” held at the Army Headquarters, on Sunday.
Chiefs’ Conclave is a platform for an exchange of ideas between the former Nepali Army chiefs and former Indian chiefs.
Military-to-military relationship has been bedrock of Nepal-India defense cooperation for decades. Being the major defence partner of Nepal, India has been assisting Nepal Army in its modernization by supplying equipment and providing training. Military exercises have been an integral part of Nepal-India defence cooperation over the years.
Nepal and India hold battalion-level joint military exercises alternately in each other’s country. In September 2021, the joint training was held in Pithoragarh in the Indian State of Uttarakhand while this year’s military exercise took place in Saljhandi of Nepal.
A number of defence personnel from Nepal Army attend training courses in various Indian Army training institutions.
The two countries have been awarding each other’s Army Chief with the honorary rank of General in recognition of the mutual harmonious relationship between the two armies since 1950.
Giving continuity to that decades-long tradition, Nepal’s Army Chief Prabhuram Sharma visited India in November 2021 while his Indian counterpart Manoj Pande paid a reciprocal visit in September last year. The Gorkha connection is also one of the key aspects of bilateral defence cooperation.
(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal correspondent based in Kathmandu)
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