Nepal palace massacre tale gets new twist

April 8th, 2009 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 8 (IANS) Nepal’s deposed playboy crown prince Paras has opened a Pandora’s box with his claim that his cousin Dipendra had been contemplating the assassination of the king and queen of Nepal for over a year.

Now a former royal aide has rejected the allegations, saying that he was sacked for not circulating the same story.

Saujanya Kumar Sulya Joshi was the personal secretary of Nepal’s Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah in June 2001 when Nepal’s popular king Birendra was gunned down in the tightly guarded Narayanhity royal palace in Kathmandu along with his queen Aishwarya and seven other relatives.

Soon after the bloodbath, his eldest son and heir Dipendra, who lay in a coma, was crowned the new king and also blamed for the carnage.

Palace officials said Dipendra had caused the havoc during a drugs and drinks-induced rage, after which he shot himself.

But the claim was rejected by Nepalis, who believed it was a conspiracy plotted by the slain king’s brother Gyanendra, who became the next monarch of Nepal.

The old skeletons began rattling once more this month when Gyanendra’s son Paras, who has been living in Singapore after the tumultuous abolition of monarchy in the former Himalayan kingdom, told a Singaporean tabloid that Dipendra had several motives for killing his family.

Besides being thwarted in his wedding plans by his parents, Dipendra was also furious at his father agreeing to surrender the absolute power he had wielded in the past to an elected government, Paras alleged.

A third motive for the murder was being foiled in his attempt to make a fortune out of a weapon deal for the army, Paras said, adding that Dipendra had been mulling the assassination for almost a year.

But now, Paras’ interviews, that are calculated to project the dead crown prince as a killer anew, are being discounted by Dipendra’s personal secretary, who says he was sacked for refusing to toe the palace line on the massacre.

Joshi, 59, says the crown prince’s behaviour did not tally with Paras’ allegations.

Dipendra was the patron of Nepal’s Sports Council and on the eve of the killings was involved in planning the annual National Games.

He attended a sports meet and told the organisers to wait for him the next day, Joshi told the Jana Aastha weekly, which did not indicate he was planning an appalling massacre the next day.

Neither was Dipendra drunk or stoned on the day the tragedy occurred, Joshi said.

After the killings, palace officials pressured him to say that Dipendra was behind the slayings but he refused, Joshi told the weekly.

“Neither was I privy to Dipendra’s plans nor was I present at the august family dinner where the killings occurred,” Joshi said. “So my conscience would not allow me to say that the crown prince was the perpetrator.”

Joshi also said that the way the dead crown prince’s secretariat was disbanded immediately afterwards and seven people who had been familiar with his daily routine sacked raised doubts about new king Gyanendra’s motives.

“Gyanendra chose the lull time of Dashain festival (when Nepal enjoys its biggest holiday period) to appoint his own son Paras as the new crown prince,” Joshi said. “It created suspicions about his motive.”

The appointment of a new crown prince also made him wonder why the secretariat was dissolved then.

Joshi’s clinching argument that Dipendra did not point the gun at his parents has to do with King Birendra’s health.

Birendra had just survived a heart attack and it was feared that time was running out for him.

Dipendra, Joshi says, knew about his father’s condition. He simply had to wait a little longer to be the new king of Nepal and do things the way he wanted, including marrying the girl he loved.

“How long does the survivor of a cardiac arrest last,” Joshi asks. “When Dipendra knew this, was there any need for him to kill his father?”

The new theories about the palace massacre come after Nepal’s new government led by the former Maoist guerrillas pledged to begin a fresh investigation and bring the real culprits to book.

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