Maoists want fresh probe in Nepal royal palace massacre

June 12th, 2008 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 12 (IANS) Even as he handed over his crown, sceptre and throne to the government and quit the palace for ever, Nepal’s last king Gyanendra continues to be haunted by the shocking massacre in the royal palace that catapulted him to the throne as the Maoists Thursday said they wanted a fresh investigation. The assassination of king Birendra in the tightly guarded Narayanhity royal palace in June 2001, which is regarded by Nepalis as being the beginning of the end of the kingdom’s two-century-old royal dynasty, should be investigated by an impartial and high-level commission, a top Maoist leader said.

Baburam Bhattarai, who won the maximum votes in the critical April polls and was elected from Gorkha, the district in western Nepal where Nepal’s Shah kings had their ancient kingdom, said: “Nepalis want an investigation into the palace massacre as well as property (of deposed king Gyanendra).”

On Wednesday, before he vacated the palace in obedience to the order by the newly elected constituent assembly that formally proclaimed Nepal a republic, dethroned king Gyanendra held a press conference in the palace, an unprecedented event in the 239-year history of Nepal’s royal family.

At the brief interaction with the media, he defended himself spiritedly against the allegations that had haunted him since his ascension to the throne in 2001, calling them “conscienceless”, “heartless” and part of a ruthless propaganda to vilify him and his family.

There were allegations that the ambitious Gyanendra had engineered the murder of his brother in order to possess the throne and that he had billions stashed away in banks abroad.

“It was not necessary to defend himself,” Bhattarai said. “We hope Gyanendra would cooperate with the probe panel since it would also be in his own interests. If he is innocent, the investigation would exonerate him.”

The former king, who left the palace late Wednesday night amid catcalls and shouts in favour of a republic, would have to now start house-hunting as he starts life as a commoner.

Bhattarai said the government had allowed the deposed king to move into the former dynasty’s summer mansion at Nagarjuna palace only temporarily in order to facilitate his departure.

“To get milk from a cow, you have to feed it grass,” he said. “Gyanendra will be asked to shift from the Nagarjuna palace soon.”

The revolutionary leader, whose party had fought a 10-year war to overthrow the monarchy, said it was because his party wielded arms that the former king had quit the palace so easily.

“(From a Hindu kingdom) Nepal became a republic in a unique way,” he said. “In other countries that overthrew monarchy, it was done in an indescribably savage way and the kings lost their heads. Look at Britain, France and Russia.

“But in Nepal, we ushered in republic in a stunningly peaceful manner.”

The Maoist leader hoped that the dethroned king would not join hands with “reactionary forces” and plot against the new republic.

“If he takes a lesson from history, resides peacefully and helps in the creation of a new Nepal, as he said he would, we are ready to forgive him.”

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