Nepal witnessed a ‘family’ drama last week with former crown prince Paras, son of deposed king Gyanendra Shah, and Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala’s Bangladeshi son-in-law as lead actors.
The first scene unfolded at a forest resort when Paras fired in the air after a verbal duel with Koirala’s jwai Rubel Chaudhary. The ex-prince was apparently angry at the Koirala family’s role in abolition of monarchy.
The news splashed on front pages of local newspapers and Paras too ‘admitted’ using his pistol. Koirala’s party, the ruling Nepali Congress, demanded justice and police lodged a case against Paras.
Stories on the pistol in question being illegal also surfaced. The scene soon shifted to Pokhara where police questioned Paras and airlifted him in a chopper (which he had hired) to the scene of the crime.
The arrest, the first for an ex-royal, attracted global attention. Police, however, maintained that Paras was just taken “under control”. After cooling heels for two nights in a police training college, the 39-year-old was released on bail.
Royalists erupted in joy and welcomed him like a hero. An emboldened Paras took a u-turn by denying having fired in the air and justified the incident as reaction against foreigners for insulting his country.
The police helped by omitting charges of attempt to murder and firing from an unlicensed pistol and charged Paras with threatening people at a public place.
The gunshot could have ended the former royals’ slow but steady entry into the political mainstream. But by playing the nationalism card Paras turned public sympathy in his favour.