More family members desert Nepal’s deposed king

August 4th, 2008 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 4 (IANS) His son and controversial former crown prince Paras was the first member of Nepal’s disgraced former royal family to leave his motherland after the abolition of the 239-year-old institution of monarchy. After the playboy former royal’s exit from Nepal last month for greener pastures in Singapore, his wife, erstwhile crown princess Himani, and their three minor young children followed suit within a fortnight.

Now deposed king Gyanendra’s remaining child, daughter Prerana, has also followed her brother.

The former princess, who is married to a controversial commoner businessman, made a low-profile exit from Kathmandu late last month unnoticed by the media.

Prerana was accompanied by her four-year-old son Parthav.

She is now ensconced in an apartment in Singapore’s Archer Road, trying to enroll her only child in the British School there, Nepali tabloid Jana Aastha said.

Prerana’s husband Raj Bahadur Singh had escorted Paras to Singapore.

Singh acquired a dark reputation three years ago, after king Gyanendra seized absolute power with the backing of the army, when he began pushing his own businesses at the expense of the state treasury.

To promote Singh’s private mobile phone company, the government clamped down on the phone services of the state-run Nepal Telecom as well as Indian joint venture United Telecom.

Singh also presented an engineering design by a private firm as his own and bagged a lucrative contract during his father-in-law’s government. However, the contract was cancelled by the new government that came to power after the fall of the king’s regime in 2006.

The son-in-law, who faced allegations of bigamy and domestic violence in Nepal, also tried to force an Indian businessman to hand over his popular five-star hotel to him. However, the scheme was foiled by the ouster of the royal regime.

Finding it difficult to do business in a republican Nepal and fearing further crackdown if the anti-monarchy Maoists come to power, the son-in-law has decided to relocate in Singapore.

Yet another member of the royal family, the former king’s niece Dilasha, has also quit Nepal for Singapore.

Dilasha is the daughter of Gyanendra’s younger brother Dhirendra, who died in the infamous massacre in the royal palace seven years ago, a national tragedy that is regarded as the beginning of the downfall of the once omnipotent Shah dynasty of kings.

Barring Prerana, who has been a dutiful and trusted daughter in whose name the former king transferred much of his inherited property, the other relatives left Nepal blaming Gyanendra’s ambition for their predicament.

While Paras, once the heir to the throne, regards his father as having gambled away his inheritance, the others, who face the takeover of their property and excess land by the government, also blame the former king for their altered status.

Nepal’s first constituent assembly that came into being in May on an anti-king vote, formally abolished monarchy and stripped all royal family members of their titles.

They have also lost their legal immunity and now have to pay taxes as well as utility bills.

The cause of their woes, the ousted king, however, has declined to leave Nepal and seek asylum abroad.

Gyanendra and his wife Komal have been leading a low-profile life in an inferior palace on the outskirts of Kathmandu since their eviction from the Narayanhity royal palace in June.

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