Statues of Nepal kings to lose pride of place

November 16th, 2008 - 3:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Nov 16 (IANS) Not content with abolishing the country’s 239-year-old monarchy and stripping the deposed royal family of their legal immunity, Nepal’s new Maoist-led government is now seeking to remove the statues of its past kings, long since dead.Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam, who is also the deputy prime minister, said at a public programme in the capital Saturday that the statues of past kings, which occupy pride of place in the capital and elsewhere, would now be displayed as exhibits in museums while in their place, the images of national heroes would be erected.

However, the coalition government is yet to decide which national heroes should get the honour.

The statues of assassinated king Birendra, his father Mahendra, grandfather Tribhuvan and Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of the Shah dynasty of Nepal kings, grace some of the nation’s prominent public squares and gardens.

They came under attack during the anti-monarchy movement two years ago that toppled the royal regime of king Gyanendra and began a process to scrap monarchy.

The statues were vandalised and had to be kept under armed guard for protection.

The government is also seeking to rename all educational and other institutions as well as public parks named after the dead members of the royal family.

The Birendra International Convention Centre, the august building where the interim parliament is housed, was renamed International Convention Centre.

On Saturday, the Ratna Park at the heart of the capital, a public park named after deposed king Gyanendra’s stepmother Ratna, was renamed the Shankhadhar Park after Shankhadhar Sakhwa, a merchant who became a national hero after reportedly turning sand into gold and paying the debt of entire Kathmandu valley residents to the state.

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