by Chiranjibi Paudyal
American Reporter Correspondent
June 17, 2001
CROWN PRINCE SAID RESPONSIBLE FOR ROYAL MASSACRE
KATHMANDU, Nepal, June 17, 2001 -- The great dramatist Shakespeare in King Richard III writes, "And my large kingdom for a little grave, an obscure grave." Those words came true for Nepal's royalty when the nation's Crown Prince in a movie-style massacre took the life of the whole royal family and turned the Royal Palace into an empty house of ghosts.
Though still many Nepalese do not seem to believe that the late Crown Prince Dipendra had massacred his father the king, his mother the queen, younger brother Prince Nirajan and his only sister, Shruti, a high-level two member committee formed under the chairmanship of the chief justice of the supreme court said the evidence proved that "it was all done by prince Dipendra."
The committee, which submitted the report to the king and later made it public through a press conference -- probably the biggest press conference in terms of world wide representation ever held in Nepal -- said that the crown prince was high on alcohol and drugged with hashish mixed with opium and gunned down his parents and seven others and then took his own life.
The other member of the committee, Speaker of the House of Representatives Tara Nath Ranabhat, said the crown Prince Dipendra was solely responsible for the assassination, the worst mass murder in the history of Nepal.
The 200-page report. prepared by the committee in a period of little more than one week, did not mention any motive for the killings, but verified reports that the crown prince had made three calls to his girlfriend, Devyani Rana, before he came to the regular royal dinner party wearing black army boots, an army camouflage jacket and trousers, black socks and a camouflage vest beneath a black leather jacket.
King Birendra, the most popular king after the founder of the nation Prithvi Narayan Shah, had started a tradition of regular Friday dinners every month, which ultimately ended in the greatest tragedy ever for the nation.
The 29-year-old crown prince apparently wanted to marry Devyani Rana, daughter of a prominent politician of Nepal and Indian mother, but his parents, the king and queen, were not in favor of his choice. The girl is said to be older than the prince and there was also family feud between his girlfriend, Devyani, and Queen Aishwarya, also a daughter of Rana family which ruled the country for 104 years until 1950.
Most of the Nepalese people think that the murder was a conspiracy, as the son of the new King - the younger brother of assassinated King Birendra - and his wife, the present Queen, were not killed but the whole family of King Birendra was assassinated. Though the son of the new King, Paras, is known as a hothead, he was present at the dinner party but escaped unhurt.
For many people, that leaves a hole that is now filled with speculation.
The report, which was said to ahve been prepared after a thorough investigation, asttempts to prove that it was Crown Prince Dipendra who was responsible.
The dinner party was to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Royal Palace, in the center of the capital city Kathmandu, on June 1. The host of that party was the crown prince, Dipendra. As the host of the dinner he is said to have come on time. He played billiards and drank one or two pegs - shot glasses - of Famous Grouse Whisky, straight.
Presenting the report the speaker said, "At 8:19 PM while in the billiard room the crown prince ordered his Aide-de-Camp by mobile phone to bring cigarettes, and as ordered, a cigarette prepared with a mixture of hashish and another unnamed black substance (opium) was brought to the crown prince."
It is said that the crown prince had started using such drugs for the past year. That has diminished the image of the royal family, as taking drugs is a serious crime for ordinary people.
The report has not mentioned a motive for the killing but states the crown prince had made three telephone calls to his girlfriend, Devyani Rana, between 8:12 PM to 8:39 PM.
"I am now about to sleep. Good night. We will talk tomorrow," were the words oo the last recorded telephone message as Dipendra said good night to his girlfriend.
After the phone call to Ms. Rana, the crown prince reportedly put on an army combat uniform and came out of the royal bedchamber with weapons, where he was seen by his attendant, Ram Krishna. Krishna thought that the crown prince was about to go outside and said, "Shall the emergency bag be brought, sire?" The crown prince reportedly replied, "It is not necessary now."
According to the report, the crown prince came to the billiard hall and fired at the ceiling and wall with a 9-mm caliber MP-5K automatic submachine gun and then fired the king, who was talking with other relatives. In a wild manner he came out of the hall, threw up the 12-bore SPAS 12 L French SPA gun and then entered the hall and again fired at the king and other relatives of the royal family. Most of them died on the spot.
He killed his mother, the queen, in a very barbaric way. The committee member speaker said, "Brain tissues, a few teeth and part of a jaw, a red tika (a symbol composed of a red mark on the forehead), two earring pins, broken pieces of red glass bangles and blood stains were scattered here and there."
Ten people, including the crown prince, died, and four others sustained serious injuries. Only seven relatives of the royal family escaped the scene.
Almost all of them were present except the youngest brother of the king. The crown prince died after two days in the hospital. All the others died on the spot.
The incident has awakened profound questions about the monarchy, a symbol of unity in the multi-ethnic and multi-=3Dreligious communities of Nepal. Most of the people still do not seem to believe that the crown prince could have killed his family, as he was by nature a very shy and gentle prince.
There were protest and slogans shouting against the present king and his son prince Paras, for some days after the death of the king but there were no demonstrations and protest in the last few days.
One of the friend of prince Dipendra says, " whatever the committee says we do not believe, this is not true, he can not kill his own parents." Most of the people think that the king was very liberal and democrat so there was conspiracy from within the palace and they succeeded. Minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation Omkar Prasad Shrestha says, "this is the highest level committee and if we don't believe the report of such committee then whom to believe?"
"If 'The god does not speak and the dead do not return,'" he asked, quoting a Nepalese proverb, "then what can we do?"
"Anything may happen in the palace as it is the center of conspiracy," said a member of the main opposition party, the Communist Party of United Marxist and Leninists, who agreed to speak on the condition he would remain anonymous."
"The main thing is that there is no commitment for parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy by the new King Gyanendra as restored through the people's movement of the 1990," and therefore there is a need for protest and demonstrations, he said.
"We can accept this if the new king makes a commitment to the democracy and pledges to work as a constitutional monarch, and does not declare his son Paras as the new Crown Prince. In that event, there would be no need to protest against such issues," said a student leader of the ruling Nepali Congress.
The possibility of demonstrations in the capital against the report of the high level committee would not seem to affect the monarchy, at least so long as the ruling Nepali Congress party supports the King. The ruling party so far has not seen fit to criticize the new King, adecision that was made to maintain the stability of the country. The support of India is also very vital in Nepal, and the Indian government is also said to influence Nepali Congress.
The saying that "Tragedy never comes alone, but comes in battalions," has been amply illustrated in Nepal. The country is facing many problems, including poverty, a Maoist insurgency, a threat to parliamentary democracy and the constitutional monarchy, and now the darkest tragedy in the history of Nepal: The assassination of its most revered family.
Chiranjibi Paudyal is a regular correspondent for the American Reporter, and a former U.S.IA Fellow who visited AR in Hollywood in 2000.