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Fact Check: Viral Video Falsely Claims That Gorkha Soldiers in India Support Mayor Balen Shah’s Move on ‘Greater Nepal’

Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become essential today than ever before.

Claim
Nepali Gorkha soldiers serving in Indian Army have supported Kathmandu Mayor’s move to install ‘Greater Nepal’ map at his office
Fact
Nepali Gorkha soldiers has not said anything about the issue of ‘Greater Nepal’

At a time when Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Balendra Shah’s move to install a map of ‘Greater Nepal’ at his office has stirred debate within the country, a video claiming that the ‘Greater Nepal’ issue has turned violent and Nepali Gorkha soldiers serving in Indian Army have supported Mayor Shah’s step is going viral on TikTok. Newschecker found the claim to be misleading.  

Mayor Shah recently placed a map of ‘Greater Nepal’ in his chamber as a symbolic counter to India’s ‘Akhand Bharat’ mural in the new parliament building inaugurated by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28. The mural depicts ‘ancient India’ including areas that now constitute parts of Pakistan and other South Asian countries including Nepal’s Lumbini and Kapilvastu. After the opposition parties in Nepal questioned the ‘Akhand Bharat’ mural, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday instructed the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi to seek answers from India’s External Affairs Ministry about the controversial mural.

Against this backdrop, TikTok user @rasmeka.karki01 posted a video showing images and footage of Gorkha soldiers taking part in a Khukuri drill. Text superimposed on the video reads, “Balen Shah’s Greater Nepal map episode has turned violent. Nepali Gorkha soldiers serving in the Indian Army are also supporting the map of Greater Nepal.” A voiceover accompanying the video says, “We have always been defending your border, today you have seized our land. But don’t forget one thing that there are 70,000 soldiers serving in Gorkha regiment of Indian Army, what if they get angry.” The voiceover, purported to be from a Gurkha soldier, stops abruptly and another audio presented in a narration format follows. The narration says, “After Kathmandu Metropolis Mayor Balen Shah placed a map of ‘Greater Nepal’ to counter the mural of ‘Akhand Bharat’, the issue of Greater Nepal is being strongly raised strongly. Even the Gorkha soldiers currently working in the Indian Army are dissatisfied with the Indian government for capturing Nepali land over the issue of Greater Nepal. Most of the people serving in Gorkha regiment of Indian Army are Nepali people.” The archived version of the TikTok video can be seen here.

The video posted on June 20 has garnered 4172 likes, 147 users have shared it and 128 people have commented on it until the last count.

Also Read: Viral Video Claiming Gorkha Soldiers In India Warned of Protests Over Nepal-India Territorial Dispute Is Fabricated

Fact Check

To check the authenticity of the claim made in the viral video, Newschecker split the video into several keyframes and conducted reverse searches on them. The search led us to a video whose frames resembled the viral video. The video posted on a YouTube channel named Defence Corridor on 2 June, 2021 was about the signature knife-like weapon called Khukuri carried by Gorkha soldiers.  

Then we conducted further search on YouTube by using relevant keywords and found a video whose frame from 0.44-minute onwards exactly matched the footage of the viral video. The video published on the YouTube channel named Root Be Cube ~ B on 19 Nov, 2019 showed a Khukuri dance practice by Gorkha soldiers in Delhi and captured by a Gorkha soldier. However, the video has nothing to do with the claim made in the viral video. Moreover, we closely observed the other images used in the viral video and found that the images depicted Gorkha soldiers but have no connection with the claim.

We also checked for reports about Gorkha soldiers serving in India who have supported or raised the issue of greater Nepal or expressed displeasure over Nepal-India border dispute. But we didn’t find any reports to substantiate the claim that the protest over greater Nepal has turned violent.

Notably, Nepal’s constitutional experts and lawyers had earlier denounced Mayor Shah’s decision to install a map of greater Nepal as “childish and unconstitutional”, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 19 instructed Nepali Embassy in New Delhi to seek answers from the India’s External Affairs Ministry about the controversial mural in India’s New parliament building.

What is Greater Nepal?

Greater Nepal is an irredentist concept, with its proponents claiming that some of the present-day territories of India, controlled by the Gorkha Army between 1791 AD and 1804 AD, should be returned back to Nepal. The Gorkhas later ceded the territories to the British East India Company under the 1816 Sugauli Treaty as part of a war settlement. 

Champions of the cause for Greater Nepal believe that Nepal’s western border should extend to include the regions up to Sutlej River in Himachal Pradesh and that the eastern borders should include regions up to Teesta River.

The cause of Greater Nepal is being raised by Unified Nepal National Front, a small political group led by Phanindra Nepal, but has not found traction while the big political parties of Nepal have not adopted the issue in their agenda, probably because of its implausibility.

Gorkha soldiers in Indian Army

Gorkha soldiers from Nepal have been an integral part of the Indian Army for over seven decades. Around 32,000 Nepalese Gorkhas currently serve in the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha Rifle regiments.

The East India Company started recruiting Nepali youths in 1816, a practice later continued by the British Army. After India’s independence in 1947, a tripartite agreement between Nepal, UK and India decided to continue the recruitment of Nepali soldiers. 

Conclusion

Thus, our findings clearly show that Nepali Gorkha soldiers serving in the Indian Army have not supported the Kathmandu Mayor’s move to place a map of ‘Greater Nepal’ expressing displeasure with Indian government and the claim that the issue has a violent turn is fabricated.

Result: False

Sources
The Kathmandu Post, 9 June, 2023
Defence Corridor/YouTube, 2 June, 2021
Root Be Cube ~ B /YouTube, 18 Nov, 2019


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Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become essential today than ever before.

Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become essential today than ever before.

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