Ten years on; mystery behind Nepal royal massacre still lingers

The most significant event in Nepal’s modern history took place on a warm Friday night on 1 June 2001 when the country’s crown prince gunned down nine members of his family including his father and mother in an alcohol and drug fuelled stupor before shooting himself.

Ten years have passed since that fateful night which changed the course of Nepal’s monarchy and led to its end seven years later. But the mystery and conspiracy theories surrounding the massacre are still as fresh as ever.

The incident is still discussed and debated in roadside conversations, at dinner tables, in office canteens and swanky restaurants. Findings of the official investigation, books on the event and statements by former royal palace staff members have added to the mystery.

In its 200-page report, the investigation committee blamed crown prince Dipendra of having gunned down his father King Birendra, his mother Queen Aishwarya and seven other members of the royal family during a weekly family get together.

The Queen’s opposition to Devyani Rana, the woman Dipendra wanted to marry, was supposed to have been the trigger that prompted the crown prince to take the drastic step.

But the report left many questions unanswered. No post-mortems were carried out on the bodies, there were discrepancies in the statements given by some of the witnesses and doubts regarding the weapons used by Dipendra to carry out the massacre and their origin remained.

More importantly, it didn’t clarify whether the crown prince had shot himself or was killed by someone else. Dipendra was right-handed, but the committee found that a bullet had entered his head from the left side. The crown prince was in coma for three days before succumbing to injuries.

Soon after the incident, the hysterical public saddened and shocked at the demise of their king, who was revered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, put the blame of the massacre on Birendra’s younger brother Gyanendra who was away from Kathmandu on the night of the incident.

The fact his son Paras escaped without injuries and his wife Komal survived a bullet wound added weight to speculations. In the past 10 years since the incident, Gyanendra succeeded his brother as the king and eventually lost the monarchy to a popular uprising three years ago-but suspicions regarding his role on that fateful night’s events still linger.

Razing of the building where the shootings took place, thus destroying any physical evidence for future investigations also raised eyebrows. Almost every visitor who comes to Narayanhiti Palace (now converted to a museum) looking for some answers leaves with more questions.

In his book Maile Dekehko Darbar, Vivek Kumar Shah, former military secretary to King Birendra mentions that the massacre was carried out by Dipendra, but doubts remain on the reasons behind it.

“Crown prince Dipendra did it. But the conspiracy theories won’t go away. Who provoked him and why was the crown prince provoked to carry out such an act?” questions Shah in a recent interview with Nepali Times.

Maoist vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai who wrote an op-ed piece in the Kantipur daily in which he pointed to Indian and US hands behind the massacre, still maintains that the government needs to appoint a “powerful enquiry commission” to unravel the truth.

“I stick by what I said about the massacre ten years ago. Without a well planned political conspiracy, the whole family of King Birendra could not have been wiped out while Gyanendra’s family remained unharmed,” he was quoted in the latest edition of Nepali Times.

A survivor of the massacre, Ketaki Chester, King Birendra’s cousin, who sustained bullet injuries on her left hand, however absolves both Gyanendra and his son of any blame.

“He (Gyanendra) and his son Prince Paras were never involved in any of this. I wish the word spread that they are totally blameless. What happened that night was the beginning of the end of the monarchy because of the act of one of its members, although events in the years that followed also contributed,” she was quoted in a Nepali Times article.

The truth may never be known and people in Nepal will keep on coming up with their own set of theories or reshape old ones until an in-depth investigation is done to unravel the lingering mystery.

Or else the following lines written by celebrated Nepali author Manjushree Thapa in her hugely popular Forget Kathmandu, a brief history of Nepal, would continue to hold true for eternity.

“Most Nepalis will conclude that we just don’t know what happened on the night of 1 June 2001. We lost the truth; we lost our history. We are left to recount anecdotes and stories, to content ourselves with myth.”


27 Responses to “Ten years on; mystery behind Nepal royal massacre still lingers”
  1. ram says:

    Who knows it could be Maoist conspiracy too or even Chinese………………? Who gained the most by the fall of the monarchy-Nepali Maoists and their benefactor China! So why do Nepalis not see a China hand behind the massacre…………..especialy as the Neplais are punishing Tibetans escaping from Tibnet to India under Chinese pressure??



  2. Praveen Saxena says:

    If at all , the episode could have been prompted by the Chinese and other forces hostile to India. The journalist who pointed a finger of suspicion at India could himself be a Chinese agent wanting to muddy the waters.


  3. Shirish says:

    The sentiments in Nepal blame India for the massacre though the politicians might not meow about it. The background are that India (actually South block is implied wherever India is referred) never likes stability in Nepal as it want to keep Nepal under its umbrella. The Maoist insurgency would not have been such a terror if India would not have supported (Eg. It is not a secret that Maoist leaders were sheltered in India & it would be folly to underestimate the capacity of Indian Secret agency (RAW) which played a significant role to conquer SIKKIM (How well planned). And the events developed thereafter…..
    India is a devil neighbor to Nepal & other neighbours.


  4. Ashish says:

    It’s my opinion, intoxicated individual Prince Dipendra; irrespective of whatever could not have possibly killed them all. There was more definitely a higher involvement in all this some foreign intelligence agency (CIA RAW) with the help of some insiders were able to carry out their mission.
    I believe it had something to do with removing the power from the hands of the royals in which they succeed in. If anyone could have changed the whole situation for the better at that point of time it was King Birendra, since he had a lot of support from people, probably a lot more than most politicians combined; thus he was a threat to both local puppet politicians and theirs handlers back in states and india.
    Thus, they went one notch better killed his whole family and then blamed it on his son and his brother which ultimately lead to the demise of Monarchy in Nepal.


  5. Ramesh Talwani says:



  6. Anonymous says:

    The views expressed here are misplaced . FDI in Retail shall mean more glamour …. more rolling of the “R’s”… more lifestyle purchases…. more billing for the credit cards,


  7. Namit Shah says:

    Farmers will gain, customers will gain. what’s anyone’s problem, man


    Anonymous Reply:

    Walmart would be here to save our farmers and consumers like us. Are you serious?

    When our democratically elected govt. can’t/won’t do the same, why do you expect that Walmart would do it for us?

    In fact, I have a sense that Sonia G was in the USof A couple months back finalising this deal with Walmart and making sure the huge commission earned was safely put somewhere before she returned. That’s why the cabinet rushed through the decision without a debate in the parliament. If the Congress is so sure that it is good for everyone, why shy away from a debate?

    The debates are necessary only for a Jan Lokpal bill???????


  8. Ram Singapore says:

    Mr.Arnab STOP babbling rubbish. When these giant monopolies with political connections take over with HUGEeconomies of scale they will batter INdian public.

    Do you think they are your Dynasty showering you with goodies? It is hockingly naive of you to claim this as ben eficiaries are POLITICAMNS FAMOUS for 2G, Commonwealth SCAMS and NOW RETAIL FDI scams. If they were really intereswted to benefit AAM AADMI they should allow medium and small payers to instead of demand USD100Million investment and creating LICENSE RAJ and monopolies to bnefit COngress Central, State Govt ministers of Congress and NCP!


  9. Sharma_r81 says:

    FDI in retail means more choices. It means farmers earn more since middlemen are excluded. And as for the neighbourhood kariyana store, all the detractors should visit countries where big malls operate – they will find that the small retailer/shops still exist and thrive. Frankly, the opposition parties have lost it.


  10. Abu Ahmed says:

    FDI in retail is great for the country. Farmers would get a better price for their produce; there will be more investment in the cold store chain – this means that would bring in a logistics revolution in the country. More freezer trucks, cold trucks and thereby fresh agro and agro-industrial produce would be available as those freezer / cold trucks would be able to travel long distance while keeping their load farm-fresh. Agro industries would receive a boost when cold stores are made available in their vicinity. That would mean more jobs in villages as well as in cities. Despite the presence of big stores all over the big cities, no neighbourhood Kirana shop has downed shutter. The population is so huge, there will always be room for the humblest and the most glittering store to operate successfully.
    As a huge country, we must rescue the EU businessmen and provide them an opportunity to invest in our country.
    And lastly, if we do not allow FDI, the CIA/FBI would allow another 26/11 to happen somewhere else in the country – they have several Headleys up their sleeve, you see, and they need employment too.


  11. Kiara says:

    A very good article, lets sit and analyze the pros and cons of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail and you will see that the +ive far outweighs the -ive.

    Politicians are opposing it only because they fear loss of influence if poor farmers get empowered as result of greater prosperity.

    Their resistance is nothing but a naked attempt to guard their captive vote banks.


    Jamarexx Reply:



  12. Jamarexx says:

    this iIdiot think that only mMarwaris-bBania run shops. the fact being, in bBengal, the bBengalis also own small business and shops as well.


  13. Kaka says:

    We can allow uni-brand shops from china in India from manufacturers. Why allow multi-brand owned by videshi and desi brokers to become middle-person.

    it is should be desis who should be the middle-person.


  14. Anonymous says:

    BJP was always the most unpatriotic party in India, remember their parent org RSS kept out of independence struggle while INC battled the brits bravely.


  15. Praveen Chaudhary says:

    Has any of the opposers of the FDI bothered to check the price a farmer gets for his produce. I belong to a that background and can tell you that even today vegetables are bought by aadhti (middleman in Haryana, Punjab and Western UP) at rates like Rs 4-6/kg. And we all know what we pay for all these in our local markets – Rs 40-60 kg. Who benefits here – the 10 odd middlemen between the farmer and the end consumers in cities. Why are the idiots in the opposition trying to protect these middlemen when millions of farmers and the consumer middle class form a bigger vote bank any given day ?


  16. Bharatgopal Rajagopalan says:

    “wrong fact” – India is now the second-fastest growing big economy”

    India is now the fastest growing MAJOR economy in 2010 with a growth rate of 10.4% and China 10.1%. source: CIA WORLD FACT BOOK, WORLD BANK AND INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND.


  17. Bharatgopal Rajagopalan says:

    Advantages of FDI in Retail

    1. Definitely lowers prices due to high competition and other reasons like stock for high price and sell for low prices. Walmart style. and don’t forget that Walmart has its own brand of products and they sell it for cheaper prices when compared to other products in their own store
    2. Cuts down greedy and corrupt middle men. Supply chain would get regulated and farmers will definitely benefit by selling their stuff for correct prices.
    3. High quality products, especially Fruits and vegetables, Walmart would have its own transportation system, cold storage facilities.
    4. Variety of products go up. Indian manufactured goods will definitely dominate unlike claims saying that Walmart would import everything from China. There are restrictions.
    5. Employment. 10 (initially) to 50 million jobs (eventually) get created. More pay, more hours, safe work environment, secure job.
    6. Puts food on plate for lower middle class people (300 million)
    7. Millions of people can save money on food and invest somewhere else, since Indians spend most of their salary on food and rent
    8. GDP goes up and more foreign investment with better deals can start to come in after seeing the success of Walmart and stores like that.

    Even though there are some risks initially like small businesses losing business and even Walmart might find it difficult initially, during initial transition phase but we have to go by the saying “If Benefits outweigh risks” then go for it. It is the case with Pregnancy categories, when it comes to harmful drugs.

    Walmart have lot of money and they could invest 100 million dollars in each city with a population around 2 million. Eventually Walmart would dominate and reap in the benefits. Nobody can deny that.


  18. Anonymous says:

    This opinion piece is written with a flawed logic comparing it with computers and IT industry. The FDI in retail will definitely kill the mom & pop stores which actually sell merchandise slightly lower than the MSRP, thereby benefiting the most common middle class people. Perhaps they may not have noticed it in the flashy cities or the suburbs.

    And then on the pretext of providing better deal to the consumer, these bi name stores will bring cheap goods from China, in essence, killing the local industry and sending the local money overseas to procure these goods. We have seen this happening in the developed world, and now India is being targeted.

    And why the author of this article blaming just the BJP. The Congress Allies and many in CONgress itself are opposed to the FDI in retail. Looks like beating on BJP and RSS was a fashion and now it has become necessity to drive the point home.

    In my opinion, only the Patriotic will oppose this move.


  19. Manoj says:

    I cannot understand the hue and cry over FDI in retail or any sector. Indians have to learn to be pragmatic and go by economic sense rather then emotions. The fact of the matter is that we are not a export oriented economy now as compared to China which was quick to adopt and assimilate foreign technology and capital. Just compare India (1.75 trillion $ GDP, 1.2 billion population) and South Korea (1.4 trillion GDP, 50 million population). The best way forward for India is to garner as much foreign capital and continue to boost its economy till we attain a reasonable developed country status.


  20. Anonymous says:

    Let the customer decide what they want and let india have investment in logistics and supply chain and customer front infrastructure…it will be best boon india could have when we look back 10 years from now in both manpower work force it will create and also the modern techology it will bring from Farm to the customer !!! The naysayers will always be naysayers….who have their own vested interests to keep the same old hoaders and middle man traders who are pinching money from farmers and the Consumers and at the same time causing 40 to 50 % of wastage in perishable agri products !! All upcoming countries – China, S africa, Mexico, Brazil etc.. have 100% FDI investment opening in their countries..


  21. Anonymous says:

    I am not afraid to drive on this road, I did & am experiencing it up close.

    You are pointing it out just from the point of view of farmers. But what about the small and medium scale industries and small stores run by local people. The big warehouse stores are known to import items cheap, mainly form China. Looking at the current state of affairs and relations of India with China, don’t you think that it will be a suicide in terms of whatever manufacturing capability we have in the country.

    Best example for what I just wrote is for you to look towards USA, where the banks and highly paid CEOs with out a vision to future have killed the manufacturing by moving it to China while making huge profits. Yes! the local consumers are now able to save a couple of dollars on an item but it has increased the gap between middle and higher class. Without the jobs, the middle class is the new poor class and left with little or no money, leaving everyone in a financial turmoil.

    Remember, spending locally keep the money local for more job development. Once you begin importing cheap stuff, the money goes to some other outsider or a nation who can actually use the leverage to get some other concessions.

    As far as the condition of farmers is concerned, the GoI has means and technology to build the infrastructure for warehouses, transportation as well as removing the middle man. Only thing they lack is the will to do it.

    Bringing big name corporations won’t help but might affect the farmers and ecosystem negatively, — for example: the big name store would want only a specific type and size of grain, fruit or whatever that may only be achieved by genetically modifying the crop, which might have its own negative affects on human genes. The big stores would want the farmers of particular region to grow only one specific type of produce (fruit, grain, poultry, meat). This might or might not be feasible for a particular type of weather, thereby affecting the ecosystem.

    Don’t just run after the foreign investment in every sector because some showed you a rosy picture. Not every thing big is good. It’s an evil opportunity and should be avoided. Be a visionary and think about the national interest as well.


  22. outdian says:

    Sure we should get a lobotomy and believe that Manmohan has the best interests of aam aadmi in his mind 24/7 and not that of blood sucking MNCs that are ruining entire communities everywhere. small business be damned. hurrah to giant corporate megalomaniacs


  23. Nepal ko choro says:

    U ******* indians killed our royal family and u fuckers hate friendship between nepal and china…******* murderers!!!


  24. Nepal ko choro says:

    U ******* indians kileed our royal family who never wish to see developed nepal….u dhotis always wants unstabalise nepal…we will surely take revenge one day!!


  25. Indians like status quo, they tend to oppose everything that unbalances their status quo.
    I clearly remember one hot and humid evening in 1993 in June in one small town in Assam at the venue of a small meeting and picketing in the town hall. There was a union leader in Dept. of Telecom, who painted a apocalyptic picture of privatization of telecom industry and the huge losses it would bring to a profitable government venture. I am glad to say he was wrong in every form, idea and notion. From a time where having a telephone would be abhorred as it would bring in the notice of unfriendly IT people, it has led to a situation now where the mobile is ubiquitous in the hands of rishkawallas.
    May be those who oppose FDI in retail might be proved right in future, but I am skeptical as it has never harmed any country where it had been allowed, moreover we already have big retail. Or, it could be otherwise like the telecom story. But those leaders have never been redressed for their opposition of privatisation of telecom industry. I am still on the look out of that man who fed misinformation to me and a small band of people on that July day. The big fact is that people oppose without any scruples.


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