Nepal begins probe into ex-crown prince’s gun brawl (Lead)

December 13th, 2010 - 4:53 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Dec 13 (IANS) Nepal’s police Monday began an investigation into a gun brawl in an upmarket wildlife resort involving controversial ousted crown prince Paras Bir Bikram Shah, more than two days after the incident occurred, after a media outcry and pressure from a senior minister.Deputy superintendent of police Ravi Raj Khadka led a four-member police team to Tiger Tops jungle resort in southern Nepal’s Chitwan, a holiday destination celebrated for its wildlife, to inquire into reports that the trigger-happy Paras, notorious for his volatile temper, had fired shots in the air to intimidate two other guests, one of whom is the son-in-law of Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala.

“The investigating team is yet to return and submit its report,” Chitwan police chief Pushpa Ranjit told IANS.

The belated probe was ordered after Nepal’s media Monday reported Paras letting fly with his Colt after an altercation with Rubel Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi national married to Koirala’s daughter Melanie.

The outburst was set off apparently by the ousted crown prince’s still raw wound at the abolition of monarchy and the loss of his legacy two years ago, for which the former royals blame Koirala’s father, late prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

Girija Prasad Koirala is regarded as the architect of a peace agreement between Nepal’s major political parties and the Maoist guerrillas that eventually led to the scrapping of the crown in 2008.

Deposed king Gyanendra is believed by royalists to have been betrayed by Koirala and the Maoists, who had promised to support a constitutional monarchy if the king stepped down without a further show of strength but then went back on their word.

The gun brawl occurred Saturday night after Paras, who was reported to have been intoxicated, picked a fight with Chowdhury and his companion, an Indian working for a five-star hotel in Kathmandu.

Chowdhury, his wife, and their four-year-old son had gone to the resort with friends.

Paras admitted he had fired in the air but blamed it on Chowdhury and his companion, who, he claimed, had provoked him by taunting him and insulting his country.

“I had gone to Tiger Tops with my family as part of our programme in Dhading and Sarlahi districts,” the former heir to Nepal’s throne said in a statement. “While I was having dinner in the restaurant, a Bangladeshi and Indian came and tried to engage me in conversation.

“They kept on making provocative comments about my role in the past and the (non-governmental) organisation I head. I tried to control myself but they kept on saying insulting things about me, my family and my country.”

The former crown prince admitted that he finally lost his temper, went out of the restaurant and fired one round of bullets in the air. However, he said that no one had been injured and the hotel had sustained no damage.

Chowdhury’s alarmed companions rushed him and his family away to nearby Nawalparasi district for their safety.

The drama received a fresh twist with Chowdhury’s mother-in-law Sujata Koirala seeking punitive action against Paras.

The foreign minister, who is currently on a tour of South East Asian countries, called up Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Home Minister Bhim Rawal and other senior officials, demanding action against the former royal.

The new escapade will freshly revive in public memory Paras’ former offences, including running over a popular singer and causing his death.

About three years ago, he had once again fired several rounds in the air outside a night club after an altercation with his wife, the then crown princess Himani.

The offences went unpunished since till then, the constitution gave Nepal’s royal family impunity.

The gun brawl also resurrects the ghost of the royal massacre of 2001 when King Birendra and nine more members of the royal family were killed in a hail of bullets in the tightly guarded royal palace.

Paras, who was present during the carnage but survived, is regarded with suspicion by Nepalis despite his statements that the bloodbath was perpetrated by Brendra’s son Dipendra following to an altercation with his parents over his girlfriend.

After the abolition of monarchy in 2008, Paras, who became a commoner along with his family and self-exiled himself to Singapore for some time, was trying to spruce up his image and had begun a religious journey across Nepal’s temples.

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