Home International ‘Maoists planned to kidnap Nepal’s crown prince, kill army chief’

‘Maoists planned to kidnap Nepal’s crown prince, kill army chief’

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : When Nepal’s royal family was at the peak of its power, the Maoist guerrillas, who were trying to dethrone the king, had plotted to give the monarchy a massive jolt by killing the chief of the army and kidnapping the crown prince, a report said Wednesday.

In 2003, two years after Gyanendra became the king of Nepal following the assassination of his elder brother Birendra in the tightly guarded royal palace in Kathmandu, he began an elaborate scheme to seize absolute power and crush the Maoist insurgency with the help of the army.

As a step towards that, the new king dismissed the elected government and appointed a series of hand-picked prime ministers while he himself controlled the government and the army from behind the scene.

In August 2003, while royalist prime minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand’s government was engaged in peace talks with the Maoists, the then Royal Nepal Army deliberately instigated an end to the ceasefire called by both sides by killing 19 people during a wedding celebration in the eastern Doramba village.

The guerrillas retaliated by ending the truce on Aug 27 and beginning fresh attacks. The very next day, they gunned down Col Kiran Basnet, the highest-ranking army officer to be killed since the start of the uprising in 1996.

In a bid to deliver an even greater blow to King Gyanendra and the army, the underground party decided to kill the then army chief, Gen Pyar Jung Thapa, and abduct Gyanendra’s son and heir to the throne, Crown Prince Paras, Nepali tabloid Naya Patrika said Wednesday.

The plan was to spirit off the playboy crown prince to the remote Rolpa district, the stronghold of the rebels, and make him confess what had really happened in June 2001 inside the palace when King Birendra and nine more members of his family were killed during a family dinner.

Paras had been present in the palace during the massacre and was one of the few survivors. Though he has repeatedly said Birendra’s son Dipendra pulled the trigger and unleashed the deaths, he has never been believed by Nepalis who fear there was a deeper conspiracy behind the carnage.

The Maoists have all along accused Gyanendra and Paras of having engineered the tragedy, an allegation that Gyanendra rejected while handing over his crown and throne last year.

The tabloid, which is close to the Maoists, said the plan could not be put into action as a member of the “special task force” created to execute it fell into the hands of the army and the plot was revealed.

Quoting the then Maoist in-charge of Kathmandu Valley, Kumar Dahal, the report said the STF had planned to use a car bomb to kill Gen Thapa. But following the arrest of a plotter, known only as Ranjit, the car was recovered from the garage where it was being readied for the task.

The rebels had planned to abduct Paras, known for his fondness for frequenting discotheques and night clubs, from such a place and its members, posing as affluent businessmen, lived in hotels in Kathmandu’s prime tourist location Thamel as part of the surveillance.

Ranjit’s arrest led to further arrests of senior Maoist leaders, the report said.

While one of them, Krishna KC, survived long torture and internment in an army barracks in Kathmandu, several of the other plotters are still missing and are believed to have been killed and secretly buried by the army.

Though the Maoist insurgency ended in 2006 after a decade of violence and Gyanendra was dethroned last year, Nepal’s politics continues to revolve around the former royals, especially the 2001 palace massacre, which is regarded as the point when Nepal’s centuries-old monarchy started unravelling.