Finally, it is official: Dipendra did it. Two weeks after the mass murder of Nepal's royal family, a high-level official inquiry has concluded that Crown Prince Dipendra killed his father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, and three aunts in cold blood before shooting himself. Six other members of the royal family, including Queen Komal were seriously injured in the Friday night massacre and are still in hospital.
The two-member commission led by the Chief Justice Keshab Prasad Upadhaya and the House Speaker Taranath Ranabhat presented the findings to King Gyanendra Thursday evening. In a function televised nationwide, the king untied the blue velvet cover and read three pages of the summary of the report before handing it over to Prime Minister Girija Koirala. "I am giving this report to you so that you can undertake necessary actions according to the constitution and prevalent laws, and present the facts to the citizens," the king told Koirala. Then he thanked the Chief Justice and the Speaker, and requested them to "take this report to the people immediately."
An hour later, Ranabhat presented a summary of the findings live on television and radio at a raucous press conference at the parliament secretariat. Rifles, magazines, cartridges and clothes were on display. Most details confirm early media reports about a drugged and drunk prince going berserk with automatic weapons, mowing down family members.
New facts emerging from the report:
Dipendra was intoxicated even before the family dinner and was carried up to his room wher he smoked a joint with hashish and an unidentified black substance
He made several calls to Devyani Rana in a slurred voice
Dipendra's orderly and governess found him on the floor, trying to take his shirt off, he went to the bathroom and vomited
Dipendra donned combat fatigues and, armed with a 9mm MP-5K, an M-16 and a 12-bore French shotgun went down to the billiard room. Two 9mm Glock pistols were also found at the site, one was used
He fired at the ceiling and the wall, then at his father, King Birendra
He left the billiard room, changed guns and returned to spray his father with his submachine gun, killing and wounding family members tending to King Birendra
He returned to spray the survivors once more, killing his sister Sruti
He then backed out into the garden while a woman in a red sari (Queen Aishwarya) and Prince Nirajan followed him
There were gunshots from the garden. Queen Aishwarya's body was found on a landing, and Nirajan's on the lawn, brain tissue, bits of bone and blood covered the area
Dipendra was found near the bridge, still alive and wheezing. Two weapons were found near his body.
Most members of the royal family were declared dead on arrival at the Chhauni hospital at about 2115 on Friday night. Sruti died at 2155, Dhirendra and Dipendra two days later.
Why were we not told this earlier? This was one of those unimaginable crises that no one can really plan for. But the fact that it took nearly two weeks for the Nepali public to be officially told even basic details points to information mishandling.
To be sure, the royal palace is a secretive and insular institution, its relations with the elected government have been ambiguous at best. Nepali society itself has vestiges of a feudal past, and the media still has a hangover of self-censorship from the Panchayat days. All these factors contributed to difficulties in telling the truth. Even Gyanendra, when he became Regent, had to fudge facts because he was advised by the palace bureaucracy to explain the incident as "a sudden discharge of an automatic weapon". After that, a confused and angry public stopped believing anything officials said
The palace and government are now hoping the probe panel's report, however shocking to a disbelieving public, will begin to redress some of the mistakes of the past two weeks. The 200-page report was the outcome of the commission's extensive interviews with royal survivors in hospital and other eyewitnesses, examination of hospital records, lab analyses, ballistic and forensic evidence. There were more than 60 specialists who helped in the seven-day investigation headquartered in the heavily guarded parliament secretariat.
Although discerning the motive for the killings was not in the commission's terms of reference, several sources confirm the cause was Diepndra's decision to wed Devyani Rana, over which there had been disagreements between the crown prince and his parents. Sources told us that there had been heated arguments in the past between Dipendra and his immediate family members over his choice of bride-to-be, during which he threatened them with violence.
Devyani spoke with the ambassador to India, Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, in India, and the committee heard her taped statement where she said her relationship with Dipendra was a "personal matter". However, the committee report cites Dipendra's ADCs and Devyani's parents as saying their relations were "intimate". She left the country on 3 June for New Delhi. We were told she declined to present herself before the committee for reasons of personal safety.
King Gyanendra had announced the investigation on 4 June, the day of his enthronement, and gave it only three days to present its findings. But the pullout of Madhav Kumar Nepal of the main opposition UML from the panel delayed investigations.
Raj Parishad sources told us Nepal was among the first to press for an inquiry at the library of the Chhauni army hospital when most Raj Parishad members were gathered after Dipendra's death. King Gyanendra is said to have wanted to go public with the entire story right away. Nepal proposed the Chief Justice as a member, and the matter was to have been finalised later. Amid increasing street protests and Dipendra's funeral, the issue was left there as understood. Later, under pressure from his party, Nepal withdrew from the committee.
Since then, the UML has been quiet. Party officials told us they had proposed an alternative candidate for the probe panel, but this was not accepted. However, other minor left parties including the Samyukta Jana Morcha, the Ekata Kendra and the Nepal Peasants' and Workers' Party have all decided that this is a golden opportunity to capitalise on the public's scepticism, and have gone public with a conspiracy theory. This position is nearly identical with that of the Maoists, whose leader Prachanda in two statements praised King Birendra's "liberal politics" and extolled his opposition to deploying the army to fight the insurgency. Prachanda also discerned an Indo-US conspiracy to eliminate a "nationalist king" and replace him with a "pro-Indian" monarch.
The probe panel's report is diametrically opposed to this conspiracy theory, and political analysts here expect the three left parties and the Maoists to try to incite the public against it. The three left parties held mass meetings in various parts of the country in the to win support. The government has reportedly taken 1,000 people into custody in the last week, and is screening Maoists from among them.
Security was tight as the committee presented its report to King Gyanendra at the palace and after it was released to the press later at the secretariat, and the Army was on a high-level alert. Government sources said they were monitoring Maoist activities for any sign of trouble. Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Poudel told us: "The Maoists want to make every one feel insecure and cash in on the uncertainty." KP Oli of the UML agreed: "They may be trying to capitalise on the crisis, looking at the masses on the streets last week it was clear they were trying to make trouble." Leftist student sources confirmed what the police suspected. Rajendra Rai of a UML-affiliated student union told us that Maoist students had contacted his group to join them in street protests on 7 June, but that his group refused.
The uprising the Maoists wanted to trigger is in line with the party's new Prachanda Path doctrine they announced in February to build pressure for an all-party conference to form an interim government that would formulate a "people's constitution." Krishna Sen, editor of Janadesh, a weekly close to the Maoists said in a radio interview that this was part of the Maoists' strategy to start a mass uprising in urban areas.
For the summary of the report please go to http://www.ntc.net.np