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Newsletter 7.2 (24. Juni 2001)

2. Artikel aus dem nepalesischen Wochenmagazin Spotlight

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Vol. 20 :: No. 48
June 15 - June 21 , 2001.


Waiting For The Report

Dazed and shocked, Nepalis are yet to come to terms with the unbelievable tragedy that struck the royal palace. Although the people's anger over the gruesome killings of almost all royal family members is cooling, their quest to know the truth persists. Will the report of high-level committee formed to investigate the palace killings bring the answers?


King gyanendra : Challenges ahead

King gyanendra : Challenges ahead

Tens of thousands of people continue to pay homage to their late king, queen and other members of the royal family who were killed when tragedy struck a family gathering at the Narayanhity Royal Palace on June 1, 2001. At the same time, they are awaiting substantial evidence on the actual circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

From the failed love affair of Crown Prince Dipendra to conspiracy theories of various colors, Nepalis are having to rely on rumors and unsubstantiated information. A credible story on the palace bloodbath is yet to come out in public.

As Nepalis are still mourning their beloved king, an adrift nation is struggling to restore peace and tranquillity. But a profound sense of anger and frustration is etched on the minds of the people.

Though angered and frustrated, the Nepalese people do not have an alternative to waiting for the report, which is expected to be presented to King Gyanendra by the committee by Thursday evening.

Upon the request of the committee, the king extend its tenure by four days. After the extension, the committee is said to have interviewed the proposed bride for late king Dipendra and is considering to ask written questions of the other woman who has found herself at the center of the controversy.

This is the first high-level committee that has been given full authority to investigate events and interview all the surviving eyewitnesses, mostly royal relatives.

In the killings, 10 royal family members, including five members of King Birendra's family, his two sisters, Shanti Singh and Sarada Shaha, brother-in-law Kumar Khadga Bikram Shaha, niece Princess Jayanti Shaha and brother, former prince Dhirendra, died.

In order to investigate all angles of the case, the committee seems to be making every effort to interview people related to the incident.

"This is first time an outside committee has been allowed to investigate a matter related to the royal palace," said an analyst. "The high-level committee has to produce all kinds of details regarding security and other matters of the palace."

Many contradictory statements about the massacre at the Narayanhity Royal Palace on the Black Friday on June 1 have already come out even before the high-level committee began its work.

Although all media reports and revelations of the royal relatives indicated that it was Crown Prince Dipendra who killed his family members before committing suicide, for the majority of the Nepalese it is unbelievable.

It seems that the committee's report alone will not solve the confusion and chaos on the killings in the royal palace as a large number of people still do not believe the account of survivors.

Political Parties on Committee

Although all major political parties have stressed for a need to restore peace and tranquillity in the country, no one believes the parties will abide by their commitment.

"Although our party decided to pull out from the high-level committee, we will support and cooperate with the report," said leader of main opposition party Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Other political parties including CPN-ML and other leftist communist parties, including radical NCP(Masal) and other small communist outfits, also call the people to remain calm.

"To believe the palace killing was the result of a family feud would be utterly childish. This is a conspiracy hatched by international reactionary forces against the country's sovereignty and to limit the rights of the people," said a press statement released by NCP-Masal.

Other political parties, including the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, also issued calls for calm. As the CPN-Maoist still seems to be in a mood to fuel public anger after the publication of the report, one cannot rule out an outbreak of unrest.

"Some forces like the Maoists and other bad elements may try to exploit the fragile situation," said Foreign Minister Chakra Prasad Bastola.

Along with a large number of mainstream political parties, intellectuals and political analysts also hold the view that the people will gradually realize the facts.

"People are now talking on the basis of their emotions so their reaction is spontaneous. As soon as they see the fact, the people will realize it," said Professor Lok Raj Baral. "I don't expect any violent outbreaks as the eyewitness accounts are already coming out about who committed the act."

At a time when a large number of people are still in confusion, one cannot rule out the possibility of disturbances. "We are taking every necessary steps to prevent possible violence as one cannot rule out the possibility of some sorts of disturbance," said Minister Bastola.

Although the government has been taking measures to prevent possible disturbances after the probe panel presents its report, political experts do not believe that the level of violence witnessed in the first week of June would be repeated.

"Spontaneous violence erupted in the immediate aftermath of the killings because of contradictory remarks and confusion emanating from the government," said Professor Shridhar Khatri. "Had the government named the real culprit of the incident earlier, such violent incidents would have been prevented."

Headed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Keshav Prasad Upadhyaya, the high-level committee will have a very challenging task in convincing the people that their probe is impartial and based on the truth.

The committee has been given broad powers to probe into wide areas, including meeting Royal Palace security officials, interviewing survivors, and interrogating all other persons including the doctors involved in the treatment.

In accordance with the jurisdiction given by King Gyanendra, the high-level committee has said to have interviewed eyewitness survivors, security personnel and medical officers. The two-member committee was also said to have visited the Narayanhity Royal Palace.

After the sudden eruption of three-day violent street demonstrations, the government seems to be fully prepared to take necessary steps to prevent such events again.

Desperate, frustrated and confused, the common citizens of the country are eagerly waiting to know what the high-level probe commission investigation committee will present unfortunate incident that took palace in Narayanhity Royal Palace on June 1. If things go smoothly, the committee will hand over its report on Thursday. The question: will the people accept it?

"The majority of the people will accept the verdict of the committee as they do not have any other alternative," said Professor Khatri. "There is always a possibility of a small number of group opposing the idea."

Others do not rule out the possibility of series of violence in the coming days. "The recent tendencies of the youth show that there is going to be a series of violence in the coming days," said Professor Dhruba Kumar.

Although some eyewitnesses to the royal palace killings have supported the theory that Crown Prince Dipendra is responsible for the bloodshed, the committee still requires legal points to justify it.

"As everyone knows who killed the royal family members, people will not have difficulty to support the findings of the high-level committee," said Professor Baral.

Challenge to New Monarch

New monarch Gyanendra has already made efforts to provide the right information announcing a high-level committee to probe the killing. As the country has never seen such a lonely monarch in the history of Nepal, the institution of monarchy is passing through a very difficult path.

Although King Gyanendra is regarded as a competent and efficient monarch, he does not have relatives and other family members like late King Birendra who can offer advice on vital matters. King Gyanendra has an uphill task to led the nation and overcome the challenges.

Despite smooth succession to the throne, the social instability generated by the aftermath of the killings is yet to be addressed.

The love and affection of the Nepalese people for the institution of monarchy is unquestionable and unchallengeable, as every community in the country requires the unifying presence of the institution of monarchy.

As life moves toward normality, there is a sense of anxiety in the face of the common citizens. "The royal palace incident has rocked the entire country, but the situation is going to normalize. As it said: The king is dead. Long live the King," said Minister of Finance Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat.

People may not take part in violent demonstrations, but the instability and uncertainty generated in the mind of people will not fade away.

Political Instability

If Nepal plunges into prolonged political instability, it will be uneasy for Nepal's two giant neighbours. India has already expressed concern over the fallout of political instability in Nepal. China, as usual, has been subdued in expressing its concerns.

The Hindustan Times has described Nepal as the geographical forehead of India. Right now, the country is giving New Delhi a terrible migraine. India's largest-circulated daily's comment on Nepal underscores how much Indians are concerned by the turn of events in Nepal.

As China regards Nepal as a soft belly to Tibet, the northern neighbour is obviously concerned by the possibility of prolonged political instability in the kingdom.

"India and China have already expressed deep sorrow over the unfortunate events in Nepal. This definitely shows their concern about developments in Nepal. Indians are much worried about alleged terrorism activities in Nepal," said Professor Khatri.

As the traditional concept of diplomacy has been transformed by economic concerns, Nepal may not have wide room to exercise its foreign policy options. "Nepal has to accept its historical, cultural and geographical compulsions. As Nepal has already expressed the commitment not to allow its soil to use against any of neighbours, there is nothing to worry about," said Foreign Minister Bastola.

"Political instability and violence will not help either Nepal or any of its neighbours. The sooner the country recovers from the trauma of violence, the better for the region as a whole," said Professor Dhruba Kumar. "If violence is allowed to prevail in this mountainous country, it will be difficult to control in the future."

Although tensions are subsiding and the country is gradually limping toward normality, Nepal may have to go long way to recover from the shock of the killings. At a time when Nepal has already lost its image as a peaceful destination, it is the people who have to prove that they are inhabitants of a peace-loving country.

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