Nepal still a monarchy in obsolete Indian embassy website

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : Nepal is a constitutional monarchy whose recent highest-level contact with neighbour India is the visit by King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya and the Indian government is supporting Nepal’s fight against Maoist terror activities. This is not information from history books but statements from the current website of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu that has apparently not been updated for at least six years.

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It would leave India’s Ministry of External Affairs squirming to realise that the embassy in Kathmandu, one of the largest Indian missions abroad, has not bothered to update its website to keep at par with the swift changes that overtook the once sleepy Himalayan kingdom since 2001, some of which were initiated by the Indian government itself.

The fact-file compiled by the embassy still describes Nepal, which became a republic last year and formally abolished its 239-year-old monarchy in May 2008, as a constitutional monarchy.

The section on India-Nepal relations, which received a new dimension last month with Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ visiting New Delhi, however lists as the “recent bilateral contact” the state visit by king Birendra and queen Aishwarya.

That royal visit occurred in 1999 and two years later, both the king and queen had perished in a tragic massacre in the royal palace.

But probably the most embarrassing gaffes can be found in the “What’s new” section.

The last entry there dates back to July 2002, when India banned a Nepali NGO in India – the Akhil Bharat Nepali Ekta Samaj – on the ground that it had become involved in “terrorist activities”.

“The government of India is supporting Nepal’s fight against Maoist terrorist activities,” the entry added.

“During the visit to India of Rt. Hon’ble prime minister of Nepal, the prime ministers of India and Nepal had reiterated the determination of the two countries to work closely in fighting the scourge of terrorism which was adversely affecting peace and stability in the region and was also impeding socio-economic development.”

The entry was followed by the transcript of an interview by a nameless Indian charge d’affaires who said “the people of India and the government of India are very happy” over the visit to India by king Gyanendra and queen Komal and hoped it would “contribute to further cementing our friendly relations”.

“The fact that the visit of His Majesty to India is his first visit abroad after accession to the throne is significant,” the official went on to add. “We are happy that he has chosen to first visit India. His Majesty will have interactions with our senior leaders and the visit would increase goodwill between our two countries and strengthen our cooperation.”

Four years after that, India played mediator between the parties opposing the king’s rule and the once-banned Maoists in New Delhi to overthrow king Gyanendra’s government and subsequently, strip the king of his crown and turn him out of his ancestral palace.