Nepali Times

1 June

Prince Gyanendra leaves Chitwan for Pokhara by helicopter. He had arrived a week earlier for a field inspection of King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) activities. From Pokhara he was to fly to the foothills Mt Manaslu to inaugurate micro-hydro plants and inspect projects.

After having a late lunch with his parents Crown Prince Dipendra drives to the National Sports Council's complex in Satdobato to check out preparations for the forthcoming national games. He stops at the swimming pool complex, the shooting range and the newly built squash courts.

Dipendra returns to the palace to accompany his parents to a tea gathering at the house of the Bada Gurju in Dilli Bazar.

The royal family returns to the palace after which King Birendra goes to his office and Queen Aishwarya to her bungalow. Dipendra heads to the Tribhuvan Sadan, where the family is to meet for dinner later in the evening. He tries some shots at the billiards table by himself, downs one or two pegs of Famous Grouse whiskey.

The crown prince sends his ADC away and royal invitees begin arriving soon after. Dipendra serves drinks to some of the early comers, and at 20:00 goes to fetch Queen Ratna. King Birendra arrives at 20:30 and spends some time with his mother. By then Dipendra is "intoxicated, stammering" and can't stand straight. His brother and cousins take him to his room. Dipendra talks about having discussed wedding plans with his mother and grandmother, and says both did not agree. He also says he will talk to his father on Sunday.

King Birendra enters the Billiard Room. Dipendra appears soon after, armed with at least four weapons. He shoots at the ceiling and at his father and two cousins. He backs out, reappears and sprays his uncle Dhirendra who tries to stop him, and other relatives. He comes in the third time and shoots another volley. Then he goes outside and shoots his mother and brother at close range. By 21:05 it is all over.

The first injured start arriving at the army hospital in Chhauni. In the confusion no one thinks about informing the prime minister. Raj Sabha chairman Keshar Jung Rayamajhi is alerted (by whom he does not say) at 21:45 and the police chief Pradeep Sumshere Rana at 21:15 by the ADC office. The Army Chief reaches the hospital at 22:10, and the home secretary finds out at only 23:00 or so.

In Pokhara a surviving royal family member rings Prince Gyanendra at Himgriha and, so as to not to worry him too much, just says there has been a shooting. As he prepares to leave by road, the prince gets another call at 22:00. It is Brig Tika Dhamala, who says there had been an accident, and he is needed at the hospital and a helicopter is on its way to fetch him. The prince is asked not to leave until the helicopter arrives. He waits until two in the morning by which time he has been told what happened.

Keshar Jung Rayamajhi calls Prime Minister Girija Koirala and tells him the king had a "serious heart attack". Is that what he was told? If he knows what really happened, why doesn't he give the correct information? Koirala dresses to go to the hospital when Pashupati Maharjan, chief palace secretary, comes to get him. One the way to the palace Maharjan tells Koirala that the king was shot. The two stop briefly at the palace for a briefing by the military secretary, and cut him off as soon as Koirala is told the king and queen were shot and heads to the hospital. Rayamajhi is there and the Chief Justice and House Speaker also arrive. No one can tell the government officials the exact details, and they just stand around.

By this time, King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya, Prince Nirajan, Princess Sruti, Princess Shanti, Sarada and Kumar Khadga are dead inside the trauma hall of the army hospital. Word starts spreading in Kathmandu's elite circles by mobiles and landlines. Doctors work in the operation theatre to save the crown prince, Dhirendra and other injured.

2 June

A royal Super Puma helicopter 9N-RAJ takes off from Kathmandu and tries to penetrate dense clouds towards Pokhara, but after trying for half-an-hour returns to Kathmandu. Prince Gyanendra is informed in Pokhara, and starts off by road soon after, escorted by a security detail of 16 army vehicles.

At first light, the helicopter takes off from Kathmandu again to rendezvous with Prince Gyanendra at Gajuri on the Prithvi Highway. It returns with the prince and lands at Chhauni by 06:30.

Prince Gyanendra makes the rounds of the ICU at Chhauni to inspect the dead and injured and is briefed by medical personnel. He meets the prime minister and other officials. Discussions focus on the condition of the crown prince and the succession. The option of regent is brought up.

Despite a news blackout, word of the massacre spreads like wildfire through the streets of Kathmandu. Two daily newspapers have the story splashed on their front pages and sell out immediately.

Raj Sabha meets at Bahadur Bhawan in Kanti Path to discuss succession.

An official announcement finally says King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya are dead. It proclaims Dipendra king, and Gyanendra regent.

Dignitaries gather at Chhauni for the start of the funeral procession for the king, queen, prince and princess. It takes three hours for the procession to get to Pashupati and the cremation, another two hours. Funeral procession is stoned at Swayambhu and the prime minister's car is damaged.

3 June


A fuzzy statement by the regent broadcast over radio and television finally tells the Nepali public that four members of the royal family died from "a sudden discharge of an automatic weapon". Hordes of foreign mediapersons already in Kathmandu pooh-pooh the statement in their dispatches, the Nepali public smells conspiracy.

From early morning people visit the pyres at Aryaghat, as if to confirm what they saw on TV the previous night. Many take their children along. Others begin flocking to Narayanhiti to sign the condolence book. The first signs of trouble in Darbar Marg, Baneswor and Jamal as thousands of angry and shocked citizens gather. Many are mourners, but troublemakers in the crowd begin throwing stones at police and chanting anti-Gyanendra and anti-India slogans. In the absence of official information, wild rumours sweep Kathmandu.

4 June

King Dipendra dies at Chhauni.

Palace officials, the cabinet and opposition figures meet at the hospital library to again discuss succession. Rayamajhi tells King Gyanendra he should now be declared king. Other members of the Privy Council approve with their silence. Gyanendra says that is something for the Raj Parishad to decide. Then the prime minister says the Parishad would formalise it, and that he would have to sit on the throne. Others present agree. Madhav Kumar Nepal then suggests that an investigation on the 1 June incident should be announced after the enthronement.
The meeting becomes tense again. Rayamajhi interjects: "Won't it be enough if the king addresses the nation?" Nepal is adamant, saying the people will not be satisfied by a royal address after the entire family of the king who gave them the constitution had been massacred. The prime minister steps in and supports Nepal, as do the speaker and the royal palace chief secretary. Then they discuss the committee's nature: Nepal wants the Chief Justice to head it. The Chief Justice suggests that would not be enough, and says that as leader of the opposition Nepal should also be a member. They leave it at that, and the people hear the king name the committee on national media the same evening.

The Privy Council meets again to declare Gyanendra king. Police try to stop protesters from entering Kantipath where Bahadur Bhawan is located. Immediately after being named king, Gyanendra tells the people that there will be a "thorough investigation" of the palace massacre because there are no more legal and constitutional obstacles.

But by then, organised street protests begin. Thousands are brought in trucks from the outskirts of the city, taxis are commandeered by protesters and converge at the city centre. By mid-morning there are about 10,000 people in Kamaladi, Jamal and Ghanta Ghar. Tear gas fills the air.

Gyanendra is proclaimed third king in four days. As street protests get more serious, curfew is announced from 15:30. King Gyanendra is enthroned at Naasal Chowk, he rides in a carriage procession to Narayanhiti past streets guarded by the army.

Dipendra's funeral procession heads towards Pashupati in a truck along the curfew-bound Ring Road. At least six people are killed in police firing, and hundreds of suspected Maoists, said to have infiltrated the demonstrators, are rounded up.

King Gyanendra addresses the nation on radio and television and names a three-man probe team, including Madhav Nepal. Nepal is forced by his party the next day to resign from the committee.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)