Nepal’s former crown prince ill in police custody (Second Lead)

December 14th, 2010 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Dec 14 (IANS) Taken under control by police Tuesday and facing charges of attempted murder, Nepal’s former crown prince Paras Bir Bikram Shah has fallen ill, in an unprecedented turn of events.The 39-year-old former prince, who suffered a heart attack about two years ago and underwent heart surgery, was suffering from high blood pressure.

Paras had created pandemonium Saturday night at a resort in Chitwan, a holiday destination in southern Nepal, by threatening a fellow guest and firing in the air.

Watched by shocked supporters and advisors, the controversial former prince, who in the past escaped facing manslaughter, battery and assault charges, was taken into custody by policemen who surrounded the plush Fulbari resort in Pokhara city.

The former heir to Nepal’s throne flew in there with his friends after the incident at Chitwan wildlife reserve.

After a standoff with the hotel authorities, police took the pony-tailed, fiery-tempered Paras under control to fly him back to Chitwan district, where an attempted murder charge has been filed against him, the state-run Nepal Television reported.

The payback for the wayward prince started after he got into a drunken brawl with a fellow guest Saturday night at the Tiger Tops wildlife lodge in Chitwan district.

During the dispute, Paras allegedly pointed a gun at a guest’s head, threatened to kill him and his family members and finally, fired shots in the air.

Ordinarily, the brawl would have been hushed up. However, this time the incident snowballed since the guest Paras attacked was the son-in-law of Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala.

The southern district Tuesday simmered with tension and security forces faced a trying time with royalists and Hindutva supporters taking out demonstrations in support of the former heir to Nepal’s throne.

A helicopter flying Paras from an upscale resort in Pokhara city, from where he was arrested in the afternoon, was said to have landed in Bharatpur town where he is to be in a police training centre.

The government, which has already ordered two inquiries, said Paras would be punished according to the law of the land. It said it was withdrawing the security cover it had provided the former royal.

After a four-member police team was sent to the Chitwan to investigate, the home ministry said it had also formed a second probe panel headed by a deputy inspector general of police.

This is the first time police have taken into custody a member of the erstwhile royal family that, though stripped of all legal immunity after the abolition of monarchy in 2008, still wields formidable power.

Paras’ victim Rubel Chowdhury remained shaken.

Chowdhury said Paras had got into a conversation with him at the Chitwan resort Saturday night.

Initially, he seemed a “nice guy”, Chowdhury said, till he began drinking.

Then a change came over the former crown prince who revealed his raw wound at having lost his chance to become the king of Nepal and being turned into a commoner.

Chowdhury said Paras accused the Koirala family of being instrumental in the abolition of monarchy and threatened to kill Chowdhury, his wife and son.

Issuing a statement soon after the brawl, Paras admitted to having fired in the air. However, he defended himself by saying that Chowdhury and his companion, an Indian, had insulted him, his family and his country, an allegation that Chowdhury denied.

“How could I insult Nepal?” Chowdhury said. “I am married to a Nepali myself.”

Paras’ new escapade 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, paving the way for Paras’ father Gyanendra to ascend the throne.

Paras, who was present during the carnage but survived, is regarded with suspicion by Nepalis despite his statements that the bloodbath was perpetrated by Birendra’s son Dipendra.

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