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NEPAL UPDATE NO.10: The Palace massacre on June 1 and its after math


Note No. 127                                   08.06.2001

by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

In a macabre and bizarre incident, on the evening of June 1st, a drunken crown Prince Dipendra wiped out the entire royalty at the Narayanhitty Palace, Kathmandu.  Prince Gyanendra the only direct survivor of the royalty was crowned as King on June 4.

During the period since the last update, the Maoist menace continued unabated with more killings and brutal punishments.

The period also marked the visit of the Chinese Prime minister Zhu Rongji to Nepal from May 14 to 16.  The most important outcome of the visit was the promise of Chinese aid to construct the road between Syaburbensi and Rasuwa that would result in a second all weather road between Nepal and Tibet.  It is just a question of time before the Chinese aid will also be forthcoming in opening up the last all weather route to Tibet through Kimathanka in the Arun valley.

The Palace Killings: It was one of those usual weekly dinner meetings of the entire royalty on Friday the 1st of June.  Crown Prince Dipendra who was drunk sprayed bullets on everyone in sight.  King Birendra, his wife, his other son and daughter as well as his brother Dhirendra were killed.  After the killings, Bipendra shot himself.  A brain dead Bipendra was declared King for a while with Prince Gyanendra as the Regent before Dipendra succumbed to the injuries.  Prince Gyanendra was crowned as the thirteenth King of Nepal of the 225-year old Shah dynasty.

The immediate provocation for the killing is not clear, but it was known that both King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya were opposed to the proposal of the crown prince to marry a girl from a well known Rana family.

There were immediate and spontaneous protests from all over Nepal leading to ugly law and order situations.  The Police and the Army had to fire at many places and curfew was imposed for three days.  While the media and the analysts both in Nepal and India were looking for a conspiracy theory where none existed, King Gyanendra appointed a commission to enquire into the incident more to satisfy the angry people who wanted to know the truth.  Initial statements of the King and the Prime minister further exacerbated the situation when they declared that the killings were accidental.

King Gyanendra: King Gyanendra unlike his late brother is expected to be a pro active and intrusive Monarch.  His imprint is already seen in the way the editor of Kathmandu Post was arrested for sedition.

He was one who could never come to terms with a constitutional monarchy.  It was good to see him declaring in his very first address to the people that the political dispensation now obtained will continue.

Many Press reports describe Gyanendra as one more interested in environmental problems and had led a low profile until his coronation.  While Public memory may be short, institutional memory can never be so.  Way back in 1979, when King Birendra wanted to make some deal with the Nepali Congress of B.P.Koirala it was Gyanendra along with the Queen who strongly opposed any "deal" with Koirala.  Many instances could be quoted where the hard line of the late King towards the democratic groups could be traced to Gyanendra.

Gyanendra has extensive commercial interests in Nepal.  At one time King Birendra wanted the royalty to divest themselves of all commercial interests but he could not persuade Gyanendra to give up his interests.  Now having ascended the throne, it will be all the more embarrassing for him to continue his interests.

The priorities of the new King could be

* to make himself acceptable to the multi ethnic, multi religious and multi linguistic people of Nepal where the King is the only unifying factor.

* to have a working relationship with Prime minister G.P.Koirala where the views of the elected representatives are given due weight and consideration. In the best of times the relationship was never good.

* to work for a solution to the Maoist insurgency which began five years ago and has now become the most serious problem facing the country.

Maoist Incidents: A list of Maoist incidents since the last update is given below.  What is alarming is that the insurgents have started using extensively land mines ( IEDs- Improvised Explosive devices), a technique they must have learnt from the people’s war groups of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. Second is the brutal punishment they have started handing over like cutting off hands and legs of Nepali Congress workers.  Third is their ability to create incidents all over Nepal at the same time.  On April 4th two days prior to the general strike declared , there were incidents at sixteen places.

The most disturbing incident besides the one at Dailekh where 29 policemen were killed, was that on May 16, a busload of passengers consisting of teachers, lawyers and factory managers from a busy place like Hetauda on the Tribhuvan Highway was hijacked to a place nearby and the passengers given extensive lectures on the Marxist-Leninist- Prachand path.

The government is yet to formulate a proper all embracing plan to meet the disturbing situation.  The latest thinking is to have an "integrated security and development plan." The Defence minister described the plan as one to guarantee peace and security to the people of Maoist affected areas by deploying the army and armed police and expedite development activities.  It remains to be seen how the government is going to implement the plan.  Also, contrary to the official view that the insurgency is confined to four or five districts in the remote regions, the data provided from time to time by South Asia Analysis Group would show that the Maoists are active all over Nepal including the thickly populated areas of Terai and the mid montane regions.

Date: Incident

April 2001:

4 Hari Prasad Lamichhane, an NC worker, was attacked and injured by some Maoist insurgents in Pokhara.

In Nuwakot, the Maoists attacked and injured Hamsha Raj Giri, NC worker and Chairman of the Haldakalik VDC, and two members of his family.

In Syangja, the Maoists broke both the hands and legs of NC worker, Dewan Singh Rana.

In the night, the Maoists exploded a pipe bomb at the premises of the Nepal Lever Ltd. in Hetauda, Makwanpur, causing minor damages.

The Maoists attacked the offices of the Small Farmers Development Project located at Manahari, Phaparhari, and Agra of the same district and destroyed office documents and furniture.

In Dang, the Maoists exploded a bomb at the house of the Minister of Water Resources, Baldev Sharma Majgaiya.

In Khandbari, Dilli Prasad Shrestha, headmaster and Vice President of the pro-NDP national Teachers Council, was hacked to death by the Maoists.

In Pyuthan, police opened fire in a march organised by Maoist militia from Kalmat to Dakhaquadi VDCs.

In Baglung, the insurgents destroyed a grinding mill by a home-made bomb at the Pala VDC.  Four suspected Maoists were arrested later along with arms.

The Maoists set ablaze a police post at the Satiswara VDC of Tanahu, but there was no policemen when the incident occurred.

In Hetauda, the insurgents snatched a gun from a security guard of the branch office of the Nepal Bank Ltd.

A pressure cooker bomb kept by the Maoists in the Lamer post of the Telecommunication Corporation was found unexploded.

Ananta Prasad Gajurel, an employee of the Nuwakot District Administration Office, was abducted by the Maoists.

Four suspected Maoists were arrested from the Janakpur airport.

In Parbat, Balabahadra Sharma, a NC leader, was attacked and injured by some suspected Maoists.

A local youth was killed in the course of an exchange of fire between a police patrol and some Maoist insurgents in the Laxmipur VDC of Ilam.

5:  On the eve of a nationwide general strike called by the Maoist on April 6, some Maoist insurgents exploded at least 30 bombs and fired several rounds in the air at Liwang in Rolpa.  Similar reports of firing and bomb explosion on the eve of the strike were received from other parts of the country.

6:  In the night, about 300 Maoist insurgents attacked an Area Police Post at Naumule village of the Toli VDC in Dailekh, and killed 29 policemen and injured 12 others.  The police post was completely destroyed by the Maoist bombs.

In Surkhet, Bishnu Prasad Upadhyay, a member of the Nepal Tarun Dal, and his brother and sister-in-law, were abducted by the Maoists.

In Jumla, the insurgents cut off the hands and legs of another Tarun Dal member, Bhim Nidhi Hamal.

In Tikapur of Kailali district, about 300 armed Maoist insurgents destroyed portions of six buildings being constructed to house about 2000 personnel of the armed police force.  The insurgents also looted Rs. 40,000 in cash and six vehicles, and damaged some construction equipment.

In Mugu, the police foiled the attempts of the insurgents to attack the district headquarters.

9:  In Nanglebhare, 26 km east of Kathmandu, the police foiled the attempts of the Maoists to destroy the local police post.

Six students and one businessman were seriously injured in a booby trap laid by the Maoists at Bhanjyang of Pyuthan district.

10:  The Maoist shot dead Bishnu Prasad Jamarkattle, an NC leader, at Dalaipani in Tanahu district.

12:  In the night, the Maoist insurgents looted about Rs 4 million in cash and valuables from the branch office of the Rashtriya Banijya Bank at Necha Bihibare in Solukhumbu.  The insurgents had exchanged fire with the police at Necha police post before attacking the bank.  One insurgent was killed in the land mine blast that was laid by the insurgents for the police patrol team.

Two children and one woman were seriously injured in a landmine explosion near the Naumule police post in Dailekh .

The Jhapa -Ilam unit of the NCP (Maoist) called for a general strike in Jhapa and Ilam on April 12 to protest against the death of Kedar Shankar Biswakarma, a resident of Laxmanpur VDC in police firing while fixing posters in connection with the recent nation wide general strike.  The Maoist unit also declared him a martyr.

15:  In Jhapa, a group of Maoist insurgents looted Rs 800,000 in cash and gold and silver worth Rs 8.5 million from the Ghailaduba branch of the Rastriya Banijya Bank.

At Ganjyangot village in Jumla, the Maoist insurgents looted cash and valuables worth Rs25,000 from the house of Gorkha Bahadur Budha

In Kalikot, Padma Nath Yogi, an NC worker, and Narad Nath Yogi ,a ML worker, were abducted by the Maoists.

18:  Assistant Sub-Inspector Shayam Kumar Adhikari was abducted by the Maoist insurgents from the Ramdi VDC Tulsipur while on his way home to mourn the death of his father.

19:  In Morang, a three men police post at Motipura was set on fire by the Maoist insurgents.

20:  In Surkhet, the insurgents set on fire, the house of Tulsi Sharma , ex -Chairman of the Surkhet district Panchayat.

22:  In Gorkha, a policeman was kidnapped and killed by the Maoists.

23:  In Mahottari , the insurgents burnt down a police post at the Khayarmara VDC.  No policeman was on duty at that time.  The insurgents also destroyed the only telephone line in the area.

In Pyuthan, one policeman was killed and another was injured in a Maoist attack on a police team heading toward the Nayagaon-based SLC examination center with the question papers.

26:  The Maoist insurgents released Rudra Prasad Sharma, an NC leader of Parbat, and his brother, Chudamani Sharma, whom they had abducted five days ago.

In Myagdi, the insurgents set fire to all the documents of the Dhaulagiri Community Resource Development Center at Jyamarukkot VDC.

In Dolakha, the Maoist insurgents set fire to sub-branch office of the Agricultural Development Bank and the Area Forest Office located at Singadhi Bazar

29:  In Dhading, Dhruba Prasad Rijal, a local school headmaster, was abducted by the Maoists.

May 2001:

8:  In Gulmi, the Maoist insurgents set fire to a vehicle belonging to the Gulmi-Arghakhanchi Rural Development Project.

In Kailali, the Maoist insurgents forced Prajapati Neupane, an NC leader and Vice-Chairman of the Chhapre VDC, to leave his home along with his family "because he differed with the Maoist views".

In Jumla, the Maoist warned the inhabitants of the Deupal VDC not to sell firewood, vegetables and meat to the policemen stationed at the Jharwala Police post.

9:  In Dolakha, the insurgents set on fire the Mainapokhari-based police post.

Chandra Bahadur Bishwakarma, a blacksmith of the Putalikhet Bazar Municipality of Syangja, was abducted by the Maoists.

Ekadev Bhattarai, Secretary of the Sankar village unit of the NC, was also abducted by the Maoists.

13:   The insurgents looted property worth about Rs 1 million from the house of the Assistant Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mahendra Ray Yadav, at the Shripur VDC in Mahottari district.

At least three Maoist insurgents, two of them women, were killed in the exchange of fire between the insurgents and the police in the Tatopani village of Surkhet district.

In Janakpur, the insurgents set fire to all the documents of the office of the Small Farmers Development Project located at the Suganikas VDC.

15:  At least four policemen were seriously injured in land mine blast in a jungle at the Matsya VDC of Sankhuwasabha.

In Sankhuwasabha, the insurgents destroyed a police post located in the middle of Khandbari Bazar by exploding a pressure cooker bomb.

16:  A powerful bomb explosion caused minor damages to an Area Police Office at Itahari VDC of Sunsari.

In the night, the Maoist insurgents took a busload of prominent people from Hetauda, including teachers, lawyers, industrialists and factory managers, to Sakaura, about 15 km north-east of Hetauda, and forced them to attend an interaction program on Prachand path

17:   In Kaski, the Maoist insurgents attacked the Deurali VDC police post and killed one policeman and injured five others.  They also looted some arms and a communication set, but did not harm the policemen who surrendered after running out of ammunition.

In Parbat, the Maoist insurgents launched a similar attack on the Lankhu Police Post.  One policeman was injured in the incident.  The insurgents took away nine rifles, but did not harm the policemen who surrendered after running out of their ammunition.

In Dolkha, the insurgents took away 25 electric poles being transported to Kabhre and Bhirge VDC.

In Terhathum, the insurgents hurled two powerful bombs in the premises of the District Police Office. No one was hurt in the incident.

18:   The Maoist insurgents attacked the Khani Bhanjyang Police Post in Okhaldhunga.  Three policemen were killed and several others injured in the incident.

In Ramechhap, the Maoist insurgents released four forest personnel, including a woman ranger from the Nepal-Swiss Forestry Project, after detaining them for 72 hours.

22:  The three UML leaders of Rukum abducted by the Maoists from Kharai in the Nuwakot VDC recently, were released.