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King Gyanendra's men to be tried for atrocities

After massive protests in Nepal, now there has been a nationwide demand for strong action against overzealous ministers and officials.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 15:35 IST

Royalist ministers handpicked by Nepal's King Gyanendra as well as bureaucrats and security officials who carried out his orders to use excessive force against anti-King protests could find themselves behind bars.

Nepal's parliament, reinstated after four years, on Thursday unanimously agreed to form a commission that would identify the royalist officials who ordered the ruthless suppression of peaceful protests that paralysed Nepal for 19 days last month and bring them to book.

So far 19 people have been killed by the security forces, which were ordered to fire on unarmed demonstrators, and over 6,000 injured, many of them severely.

After mounting protests forced Gyanendra to relinquish power and reinstate parliament last month, there has been a nationwide demand for strong action against overzealous ministers and officials.

Ishwor Pokhrel, MP from the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, Thursday formally proposed setting up a commission and the house agreed.

MPs are also asking newly appointed Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to order the arrest of the ministers and officials involved.

Maoist guerrillas, who have said they were ready to sit for dialogue with the new government, have also asked for action against the key officials involved in the suppressions.

Then home minister Kamal Thapa, who threatened the imposition of emergency, information and communications minister Shrish Shumsher Rana, who was also spokesman of the royal regime, and chief secretary Lokman Singh Karki, a royal appointee, are regarded as having played a key role in trying to suppress the anti-king protests.

Thapa's role is especially under a cloud since he was also found guilty of human rights violations by an earlier commission.

In 1990, when a mass uprising forced the then king Birendra, the present king's brother, to lift the ban on political parties and relinquish absolute power, the new government formed a panel under former judge Janardan Mallik to punish the royalist officials guilty of atrocities against people.

Three former ministers found guilty by the Mallik Commission went unpunished and were reappointed ministers by Gyanendra when he seized power through a coup last year.

They are Kamal Thapa, royalist law minister Niranjan Thapa and general administration minister Badri Prasad Mandal.

Since the King's government fell last month, his ministers have been keeping a low profile.

Mandal, who is also an MP, has not attended any of the sessions of the house when it re-convened from Friday while the two Thapas are said to be living under heavy army protection.

First Published: May 05, 2006 15:30 IST