Man claims to have plotted Nepal royal family massacre


Kathmandu : Eight years after Nepal’s King Birendra and nine more members of the royal family were killed in the tightly guarded pagoda palace in Kathmandu, marking the point that began to see the unravelling of monarchy in the world’s only Hindu kingdom, a stranger walked into the best-known media club in the capital and claimed to have plotted the massacre.

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Dressed in traditional Nepali clothes and a traditional cap, the bespectacled man, who looked to be in his 60s, told the stunned gathering Wednesday that he was Tul Prasad Sherchan, chief of the intelligence bureau during King Birendra’s reign.

Sherchan said he had planned the massacre in 1975, which was hatched in London.

He also claimed he had tapes to bear out his claim.

Asked what made him plan the destruction of the royal family, he claimed he had information that the members of the royal family had stashed away their fortunes abroad.

Had only 40 percent of that incredible wealth been invested in Nepal, it would have transformed the economy of a nation that is among the poorest in the world, racked by foreign debts, the man said.

Sherchan also claimed that he had repeatedly asked the royal family to invest part of their money in Nepal. But they refused and even jailed him for 38 months, compelling him to plot the murder.

The claim was greeted by stunned disbelief and even derision.

Nepal’s major media ignored the claim while the lightweights poked fun at Sherchan, calling his claim an elaborate April Fool joke.

On Thursday, Nepal celebrates the traditional Gaijatra festival, during which laughter, satire and ridicule rule the roost.

Nepali web site mysansar called it another Gaijatra and questioned the state of a nation where “people called press conferences to claim they had committed murders”.

Royalists remained tightlipped, saying they had not heard of anyone called Tul Prasad Sherchan.

Only the Maoists, who have threatened to block parliament from Friday demanding the current government’s ouster, reported the incident gleefully, linking it with deposed king Gyanendra’s likely visit to India in December.

Since the palace massacre June 1, 2001, Birendra’s younger brother Gyanendra, who ascended the throne, became unpopular from the very start of his reign due to prevailing suspicion that he had a hand in the tragedy, an allegation that he denied forcefully when he was stripped of his crown last year and compelled to leave the palace.

With the ousted king expected to visit India in December to attend family weddings, the Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily Thursday said Sherchan’s admission taking blame for the killings was `significant’.