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Gyanendra's ministers arrested in Nepal

Nepal's new government on Friday arrested three ministers in King Gyanendra's cabinet for assisting the unconstitutional royal regime.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 20:17 IST

Nepal's new government on Friday arrested three ministers in King Gyanendra's cabinet for assisting the unconstitutional royal regime and ordering use of excessive force on peaceful protestors last month, resulting in the death of 21 people.

Former Home Minister Kamal Thapa, foreign minister Ramesh Nath Pandey and Information and Communications Minister Shrish Shumsher Rana, who was also the spokesman of the royal regime, were arrested and put in custody for 90 days.

The arrests came even as a high-level judicial commission, set up this week to bring to justice the royalist ministers, bureaucrats and security officials responsible for trying to brutally suppress the anti-king protests, recommended that the four security chiefs be suspended.

The five-member Rayamahji Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Krishna Jung Rayamahji that was sworn in on Wednesday moved swiftly, recommending to new Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala that chief of the Royal Nepalese Army Gen Pyar Jung Thapa, as well as the heads of the Armed Police Force, Nepal Police and National Investigation Department be suspended for their role in the attacks on unarmed protesters, enforcing curfew and mass arrests nationwide illegally.

Security sources said the four heads have been suspended but there was no immediate official conformation.

With the arrests, the reign of terror unleashed in Nepal since last month comes to an end.

People had been clamouring for the arrest of royalist ministers, especially Thapa and Rana, who played the biggest role in trying to repress the anti-king protests.

Thapa was also infamous for having played a similar role in 1990 during the rule of King Birendra, the present king's brother.

Though a commission set up after that found him guilty, the then government, however, did not take any action against the culprits; many of them were re-inducted into the cabinet by King Gyanendra after his coup last year.

Thapa, who played a key role in splitting one of the oldest parties in Nepal to support the controversial local elections held by the king in February, had surfaced on Thursday after a long absence after the king relinquished power last month.

At a meeting of his party men, Thapa claimed that the new government had acted illegally and unconstitutionally in declaring the election null and void, a public utterance that probably contributed to his arrest.

Nepal's parliament, reinstated last month after four years, had been rebuking the new government for not moving quickly against the culprits.

First Published: May 12, 2006 20:17 IST