Farmer wants ousted Nepal king’s cash cows

June 15th, 2008 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 15 (IANS) Even after losing his crown and being turned out of the palace, Nepal’s dethroned king Gyanendra continues to face demands for more. Now, a Nepali farmer is laying claim to the dozens of cows herded in the former Narayanhity royal palace, saying they were promised to him.

Less than two weeks of being officially proclaimed a republic, Nepal is discovering new things about the former palace that was once prohibited land for the government, let alone common people.

The secretive walls were found to enclose a hidden underground tunnel and a 91-year-old woman forgotten by the world and kept hidden from its eyes even since she became the mistress of the deposed king’s grandfather Tribhuvan.

Now farmer Gokul Karki says the sprawling pink palace, famed for its priceless statues and chandeliers, has about 80 cows tethered on its premises that rightfully belonged to a scion of Nepal’s aristocracy, a man called Akhanda Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana.

Karki claims Rana kept the flock on his own land in the Budanilkantha area, famed for its temple of a Hindu god that was shunned by the former kings due to a myth that to gaze upon the face of the deity would bring disaster on the dynasty.

After Rana fell ill and could not tend the flock, Karki says he was promised the lot but was given only one while the rest were driven off to Narayanhity.

“The cows that were promised to me were taken to the palace due to a conspiracy,” Karki told Nepal’s official media Sunday.

Karki says Rana’s cows are easily identifiable by the long iron chains tied round their necks that weigh nearly three kg.

Though the farmer took his grievance to the council of royal advisors - a body that was dissolved after the fall of king Gyanendra’s government in 2006 - he did not get any redress.

The cows are said to have cost the former palace a lot of money every year. But though a palace official tried to send them out of the palace, king Gyanendra is said to have opposed the move, saying it would be a sin.

Till the end of the king’s rule two years ago, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom where the cow, the national animal, was regarded as a holy animal and the slaughter of cows was banned.

However, it remains to be seen if Karki will get his cows, now that democracy has been restored in Nepal and monarchy abolished.

The royal palace has also become a national museum from Sunday, open to the public.

Earlier, another farmer claimed his horse was taken away by the Maoists.

The man from northern Nepal said he came across a photograph in a magazine which showed Maoist chief Prachanda on its cover.

Prachanda was seated on a majestic white horse that he used during his days as an underground guerrilla to roam remote villages where roads and transport did not exist.

The farmer claimed that horse was his. However, it was not known if the farmer was reunited with his horse.

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