Only 75 guards for Nepal’s former royal family

June 5th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 5 (IANS) Stripped of his crown and asked to move out of the Narayanhity palace here by next week, Nepal’s former king Gyanendra and his family will now have their retinue of palace guards slashed as well. Nepal’s Central Security Council Thursday decided that once the deposed king moves into the summer retreat of his ancestors, the Nagarjuna palace on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley, he would be given 75 guards for protection.

The main members of the family are Gyanendra, former queen Komal and former queen mother Ratna.

Besides 50 Armed Police Force personnel, the former royals would have 25 soldiers of the Nepal Army to ensure their security. In the past, over 2,000 soldiers were deployed in the palace, apart from a small cavalry contingent.

The decision comes after Nepal’s newly elected constituent assembly last month formally proclaimed the Himalayan kingdom a republic and abolished its 239-year-old monarchy.

Following the proclamation, the government formed a committee to ease the dethroned king out of the palace and ensure his safety as a commoner.

The committee, headed by home ministry spokesman Modraj Dotel, has also recommended in its 14-page report that 40 security personnel would suffice for the security of Nirmal Niwas, the private residence of the former king that is now the abode of his son, former crown prince Paras and his family.

After the former royals vacate the Narayanhity, the pink palace will be turned into a museum.

The committee has suggested that police be deployed for the security of the palace, which is a treasure trove of priceless jewellery, statues and documents. It has also advocated the dismantling of the army barracks inside the palace.

Though a deep bond existed between the Shah kings and the army, which was earlier like a private army, the troops came under scathing criticism in 2001 after a massacre in the tightly guarded palace wiped out the entire royal family.

After the fall of King Gyanendra’s government in 2006, the new ruling alliance of seven parties decided to nationalise all seven palaces owned by the Shah dynasty.

The committee has advised that status quo be maintained with respect to five palaces other than Narayanhity and Nagarjuna.

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