Kathmandu's royal massacre remains a mystery 13 years on

Kathmandu's royal massacre remains a mystery 13 years on
The Narayanhiti palace.

Thirteen years on, Nepal's royal massacre still remains shrouded in mystery, with palace insiders offering conflicting explanations about what really transpired on the fateful evening in the Narayanhiti palace.

Findings of the government investigation and statements by former royal palace staffers have blamed then crown prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah. He gunned down his father King Birendra, mother Queen Aishwarya and seven other royal members during a weekly family get-together before he shot himself.

The inquiry commission prepared a sketchy report within a week, which merely recorded statements from witnesses. It did not conduct post-mortems on the bodies, which further fed the doubts about the findings.

Surya Bikram Gurung, who prepared the report as the parliament general secretary, admits the weakness of the inquiry commission. "I can say for sure that Dipendra carried out the shooting but cannot say who shot him," said Gurung.

The committee found that a bullet had pierced his head from the left while Dipendra was right-handed. He was in coma for three days before succumbing to injuries. "We would have been able to ascertain the fact had we conducted post-mortem on the bodies," said Gurung.

With nine family members of a family shot dead in the shootout, the June carnage was the worst high-profile slaughter since 1918 when seven imperial Czars were killed in prison in Russia. A family feud over a bride of Dipendra has been attributed to the carnage. Besides, many cited his penchant for guns for his fanatical behaviour. Tika Dhamala, aide-de-camp of King Birendra, agreed Dipendra was behind the incident . He senses political conspiracies but believes it was Dipendra who took the lives of his family members. "There are incidents of father-son feud resulting in murder. However, this is an attack on our faith and thus needs a closure," he said.

However, he argued it might still take time for the truth to reveal, if at all. "It is still an incident, which has not yet become history for the truth to come out."

With an end to monarchy and the institutionalisation of the republican order, political leaders at times pledged publicly to re-investigate the massacre but it has never materialised.


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