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Maoists now see Indian hand in palace massacre

Nine years after he was gunned down in his own palace, allegedly by his son over a family dispute, the assassination of Nepal's king Birendra continued to haunt the nascent republic's politics with the former Maoists now claiming the involvement of neighbour India.

world Updated: Jan 10, 2010 14:39 IST

Nine years after he was gunned down in his own palace, allegedly by his son over a family dispute, the assassination of Nepal's king Birendra continued to haunt the nascent republic's politics with the former Maoists now claiming the involvement of neighbour India.

Maoist supremo and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who has begun making increasingly anti-Indian rhetoric in recent times, now alleges the Indian government played a role in Nepal's national tragedy that wiped out Birendra's entire family June 1, 2001.

He is also claiming that New Delhi was behind the death of Nepal's charismatic communist leader Madan Bhandari in 1993.

"Madan Bhandari and King Birendra were killed because they did not surrender to India," Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily said on Sunday in a front-page report.

The daily quoted from a speech by Prachanda Saturday during a programme to mark the fourth round of Maoist protests against the coalition government of Nepal that is scheduled to climax with an indefinite general strike from Jan 24.

Prachanda said the government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was a puppet that was being remote-controlled by the Indian government.

"Former king Birendra and Madan Bhandari were killed because they supported national sovereignty," Prachanda said.

The former revolutionary said king Birendra was killed because he favoured buying weapons for the state army from China instead of India and was making efforts to hold talks directly with the Maoists, who were then an underground party.

Had Birendra not been killed, Prachanda said he would have held talks with the monarch within a month.

Earlier, Prachanda had also said that king Birendra sent his youngest brother Dhirendra as a secret emissary to the Maoists to propose talks between the palace and the guerrillas. But the king was killed before the talks could start.

Dhirendra and eight other royals, including the queen, Aishwarya, and the crown prince, Dipendra, died in the infamous massacre in the Narayanhity palace in Kathmandu.

A commission formed by the government subsequently found the crown prince responsible for the carnage. The motive was apparently their threat to disinherit him, as he wanted to marry a woman they did not consider suitable.

Madan Bhandari, one of the founders of the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist), died in a car crash outside Kathmandu in 1993.

However, many people still believe there were deeper conspiracies behind the two deaths that deeply impacted Nepal's politics.

During his short tenure as premier last year, Prachanda had promised to start a fresh investigation into the palace massacre but the pledge was never fulfilled.

In the past, the Maoists had blamed Birendra's surviving brother Gyanendra, who ascended the throne after his death, for the massacre, an allegation denied by the king before he surrendered his crown.