Thursday, June 07, 2001

The Carnage in Kathmandu and Cows Climbing Trees!

1. Of Bad Table Manners and Machineguns in the Menu!:

It could well have been Prince Charles wiping out the entire royal family in the Buckingham Palace with a 'machine gun' at dinner, because the Queen had objected the choice of his bride, Camilla Parker Bowles. Realizing the seriousness of his action, the Prince, later inflicts a gunshot into his 'back' that leaves him critically wounded and he dies 48 hours later! However this was not the House of Windsor neither England where it all happened, but the idyllic Himalayan mountain Kingdom of Nepal, among the world's poorest countries as also the only Hindu state. Wiped out in the House of Tribhuvan in Kathmandu was King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah, revered and worshipped by his subjects as living reincarnation of the Lord Vishnu, his Queen Aishwarya and nine others in a bizarre massacre that will remain a sordid mystery in the days to come.

The citizens of Nepal protesting violently the death of the its King and his family in Kathmandu streets have only one demand.' Correct information' on the tragedy that bedevils them - as all that have been fed to them thus far, be it the suspicious 'official accounts' or the inconsistency of the media at large - equals almost to reports (to use a Bengalee proverb) of 'cow's climbing trees'!

Murder so gruesome - and an elimination of an entire royal family, in a nation, where it has been popular for its peaceable existence with its subject's and a symbol of its sovereignty, leaves perplexingly a lot of unanswered question. With absolutely no verifiable or acceptable account as to the causes of the carnage, the speed at which a 'villain' was identified in the person of the heir apparent Crown Prince Deepeendra, thereafter named King as he lay in coma hours before he died, the sustained erasure of hard evidence in the palace, the hasty cremations of the royal's carried out without any coroners inquest or the participation of any world leaders - all points to a deep rooted conspiracy and cover-up that the Nepalese and for those of us in the region have reasons to be anxious about.

Together with all of that, the reaction of commoners to the new King Gyanendra's coronation and the open hatred displayed on television by commoners - indicates the Nepal is in for a rough ride in the days ahead. As I sit to write this piece the three member probe committee formed to let the Nepalese know 'within the next three days' as to what transpired on the night of Friday the 1st of June 2001, has had a split. One member resigned suggesting that under the Nepalese constitution 'no investigation may be carried out into affairs of the royal family'. Take it or leave it - the fate and future of Nepal appears to be signed, sealed and delivered - with deadly consequences to the region at large.

2. The scriptwriter's revised first draft :

Of all the conflicting reports coming out of Nepal the one those surprises me the most is the manner it is being played about by the media in general and the Indian media in particular - that be press or television coverage. On the face of it - and in the absence of any 'King Queen' story since Lady Di - what we are being led to believe would be grinding of near perfect ingredients - all set for a South Asian masala cine-drama about to explode at the box office. Dubious scriptwriters are hard at work polishing off blemishes in the first draft -and the subsequent draft's are turning out to be more fictional and quixotic than ever, and being reduced to a farce as the day go by!

3. 'The story' thus far:

A 'private' family dinner in a desolate, deserted and macabre palace - provides an ideal location. No 'security' in place for the royalty of a country that takes pride, in having the largest numbers of serving or retired Army General's in its populace. The supplier's of the worlds' biggest overt mercenary force in the indomitable Gurkha's who provide security for British installation's worldwide (including the UK High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh). No butler or chambermaid in attendance or any cooks to cater to the royal palate and other than those that died - there was apparently non-other present in the palace that eventful night?

In the thick of a family meeting, heated words are exchanged, when the compulsively obsessed 'in-love' Prince Deepeendra pleads to his family to accept Ms.Devyani, (seen in his doting company by adoring commoners at a pizza parlor next door to the palace called 'Fire & Ice') as his wife.

The Queen refuses and she has her reasons. The lady in question although adequately blue blooded in that, portions of her acceptable gene come from the Rana clan of Nepal through her father, she unfortunately carries the 'not so blue genes' of the Scindia family of Gwalior in India through her mother. One Nepalese journalist on the CNN quite wryly commented that the 'Queen did not want any Indian connection in the royalty'. There were also 'dark suggestions' from the royal astrologers about the nuptial - how pathetic?

However as the saying goes 'love is blind'… and if this AP report by Siddharth Varadarajan is to be believed, the sequence of gruesome events thereafter was as under:

'It is said by informed sources here that Deependra had had too much to drink and was told to leave. He left the room and returned with an M-16 rifle that had been provided to him along with other assault rifles three days earlier by army commanders eager for him to test them and recommend one for general purchase. What ensued was a mindless bloodbath. By some accounts, at least 19 people were killed or injured by Deependra, including two bodyguards and as many as 12 members of the royal family. After finishing the deed, he apparently went up to his room, changed into fatigues and shot himself in the head with a Koch 9mm pistol. The bullet went through his head but didn't kill him.'

'Informed sources' are ironically 'sources' that have been informed in more ways than one and in the absence of any 'eye witness' account, shall we believe that since this carnage happened inside 'closed doors' it is therefore a 'closed story' to the general public and the world at large? Specifically - are we to sit back and give our 'thumbs up' to the success of the defective M-16 rifle, that according to the first address by the new King (then regent), 'exploded and spun out of control' or perhaps a definitive 'no-no' to the Koch 9mm pistol whose bullet 'goes through the head - but does not kill'? Reminds me of a rival campaign against POLO mint in the Indian media - 'your brain does not have a hole, why does your mint need one?'

Today there is more sustained misinformation - other than the M-16 rifle it appears there was also an Israeli Uzi Sub-machinegun used during the killing. An ideal 'poster finish' picture of an inebriated gung-ho rambo like Prince Deependra - one hand firing the shoulder rested M-16 automatic, the other a pistol grip Uzi, solicited!

4. Security perspectives and India-isation of the region:

Are we to let this carnage pass by as another 'bumping off' by a contentious nations who probably did not see eye to eye with Nepal or its King? How are we to explain the many similar murders of leaders in the region in recent years where 'investigations' have covered all aspects -less the involvement of India?

There are similarities in the situation in Nepal and Bangladesh. The first, the media is totally in the grip of India, while the citizens at large are anti-Indian. As and when the situation and event's around Nepal unfolds if it does at all, it will be very difficult for India to come out looking clean in this assassination. Lest we forget, Nepal has had a period of 'economic blockade' in its recent history by India, that reduced the nation to a state of pauper during the times of Rajiv Gandhi. That punishment only because Nepal wanted a security tie with China to resist the old fashioned term 'Indian hegemony'.

The wide spread anti-India riots precipitated earlier this year when a Indian movie actor allegedly made derogatory comments about Nepalese speak volumes for the common Nepalese hatred towards India's policy in the Kingdom.. However the recent refusal by the deceased King Birendra to permit Prime Minister Koirala, to go for military actions against the anti-monarchist Maoist rebels - could well have sounded the death knell and caused him and the entire family this very tragic and untimely doom.

The involvement of the Indian intelligence agency RAW in the Kathmandu carnage has already made news worldwide as I close this piece. With a puppet King and a notorious Prime Minister highly unpopular with its people, and a systematic down playing of the carnage by the Indian media over the last twenty four hours, the consistent attempts to pass this off as a 'family feud' - are indicators that this is probably not the last that we have heard about 'assassinations from Nepal. RAW is known to eliminate its co-conspirators, and next in line could well be those that collaborated with them this instance. King Gyanendra has a lot to worry and his glum almost cartoonish facade, betrays his overwhelming, all encompassing fear

By Monday the 4th of June, Mr.Jaswant Singh the Indian Defense Minister landed up in Moscow to discuss a 6.6 billion dollar arms deals with the Soviets, to 'neutralize Chinese and American influence in the region'. The 'elimination' of the Nepalese Royal family, could well have been a small part of a larger 'security agenda' of the Indian Republic.

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