Nepal’s nabbed ex-crown prince denies role in gun brawlDecember 16th, 2010 - 11:09 am ICT by IANS
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Dec 16 (IANS) In a dramatic volte face within two days of being arrested for threatening a fellow hotel guest during a drunken brawl and firing in the air, Nepal’s controversial former crown prince stoked the controversy afresh by denying that he possessed a weapon.The 39-year-old, who has been sent to custody for interrogation till Friday, told the police teams quizzing him that he was not carrying a firearm with him to the Tiger Tops wildlife resort Saturday night and did not whip it out to threaten fellow guest Rubel Chowdhury or later fire shots in the air.
Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi national married to the daughter of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala, had said Paras, who had started to drink, tried to coerce him into going to the jungle to watch tigers at midnight.
When he refused, the former prince reportedly whipped out a gun and pointed it at his head, threatening to kill him, his wife and their three-and-half-year-old son.
Paras’ anger apparently stemmed from the role played by the Koirala family in the demolition of monarchy in Nepal in 2008 that ended his hope of ascending the throne.
The abolition also stripped the former royals of all their privileges, including legal immunity, and turned them out of the ancestral palace, which became a museum.
Paras had issued a statement soon after the fracas, admitting he had fired in the air but blamed it on provocation by Chowdhury and his companion.
He claimed the pair had insulted him, his family and his country.
However, in a dramatic turn of events Wednesday, a Nepali weekly claimed he had denied firing or issuing a statement.
The Ghatana Ra Bichar weekly, regarded as sympathetic towards a constitutional monarchy, said the former crown prince had spoken to them on the phone, dissociating himself from the shooting and the subsequent statement.
“It was hard to bear (Chowdhury and his friends insulting Nepal and Nepalis) but I controlled myself and warned the foreigners not to say whatever they wanted. I had no idea who those people were,” Paras reportedly said.
“Though the state is biased against me, I believe that the gods will protect me in this land of Lord Pashupatinath,” he added. “I also think that Nepalis, who support fair play, will stand behind me in this sad hour.”
Meanwhile, royalists continued protests nationwide seeking the release of the former heir to Nepal’s throne.
Hundreds of demonstrators, led by Nepal’s sole royalist party in parliament, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, and pro-Hindu groups like Shiv Sena Nepal, began marching in Kathmandu and district capitals like Birgunj, Bharatpur, Nepalgunj and Hetauda, calling the arrest politically motivated and seeking action against Rubel Chowdhury - the Bangladeshi national with whom Paras had picked a fight Saturday night.
Shutdowns were called in Chitwan, a major tourist destination, and Parsa, the hub of trade and commerce in Nepal, with protesters blocking highways by burning tyres and torching effigies of Koirala, Chowdhury’s mother-in-law.
Nearly 70 people had been arrested and police resorted to a baton charge outside Kathmandu. But defying the crackdown, dozens of people began gathering in Basantapur, the heart of the capital and site of the old palace of the Shah kings, condemning Paras’ arrest.
Hundreds of vehicles and people, including a large number of tourists, were reported to have been stranded in the two districts due to the protests.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: ascending the throne, chowdhury, constitutional monarchy, crown prince, deputy prime minister, drunken brawl, fellow guest, fire shots, fracas, hotel guest, legal immunity, nepali, nepalis, paras, police teams, rubel, sarkar, sujata koirala, volte face, wildlife resort