Paras’ medical treatment plea rejected, sent to 3-day custody (Lead)

December 15th, 2010 - 6:44 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Dec 15 (IANS) Ignoring growing protests by royalists, Nepal’s government Wednesday rejected arrested former crown prince Paras’ plea to be allowed medical treatment and ordered him to stay in custody for three more days for police to complete investigations into a gun brawl blamed on him.The 39-year-old, arrested by police Tuesday for allegedly threatening to kill the son-in-law of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala during a drinks-fuelled brawl in a wildlife resort in southern Chitwan district, petitioned the district authorities to allow him to go to Kathmandu for emergency medical treatment but the request was rejected.

“He is to be held in custody for three more days for committing a public offence,” Chitwan chief district officer Basanta Raj Gautam said. “Police have been given the time to complete investigations and press charges. The law will then follow its own course.”

The wayward former heir to Nepal’s throne was kept under tight security with officials remaining tightlipped about where he would be held as protests erupted in the capital as well as major towns against the arrest.

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 the capital 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 two dozen 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.

The fresh violence was the aftermath of a brawl in Chitwan’s upmarket Tiger Tops wildlife lodge Saturday night where Paras, notorious for his uncontrollable temper and fondness for drunken brawls, got into an argument with fellow guest Chowdhury.

Chowdhury 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-a-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, a Nepali weekly Wednesday 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.”

Besides the police inquiry, Nepal’s home ministry has begun a second probe while the army, seven of whose soldiers had been providing security to Paras, began a court of inquiry into the conduct of the guards who were present at the brawl scene.

The government also said it was withdrawing the state security given to Paras.

Nepal remained sharply divided on the troubled former prince.

While royalists said he was being punished due to political and diplomatic pressure, others remembered his past misdeeds, including running over a singer and killing him, and supported strong punishment.

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