Murder Most Foul in Nepal, or an Accident?

Police in full riot gear spread out across the Nepalese capital of Katmandu today as a second day of curfew was called to contain the rage and confusion that has gripped the Himalayan nation following a royal massacre.

There is still no official explanation for the killings on Friday of 10 royals, including the king and queen, except for an earlier statement by the new king, saying the killings were accidental.

Two people have been killed and at least 20 injured in the violent demonstrations that have besieged the ancient city. Today, for the second day in a row, authorities imposed a nighttime curfew.

More than a dozen people who defied the curfew were arrested as they attempted to march toward the Gharwal Palace in downtown Katmandu.

Curfew violators face a one-month jail sentence and police were given shoot-on-sight orders as locals voiced their dissatisfaction over the crowning of the new King Gyanendra on Monday.

The middle brother of slain King Birendra, Gyanendra is not a very popular member of an otherwise beloved royal family that has been widely credited for being a stabilizing force in Nepalese politics.

The murder mystery has gripped a nation since the shooting on Friday. Initial reports were that Crown Prince Dipendra fired on members of his family before turning the gun on himself in a disagreement over his choice for a bride.

But as the political situation gets increasingly tense, most Nepalese were looking to an inquiry set up by King Gyanendra, which has three days to make its findings public, for answers.

Hiccups in Inquiry

The inquiry, a massive push in King Gyanendra's uphill battle to win the trust of his 23 million subjects, is headed by Nepalese Chief Justice Keshav Prasad Upadhyaya.

But the inquiry got off to a bad start today with one of its three members, the leader of the political opposition, raising procedural questions.

In his first address to the distraught nation on Monday, King Gyanendra called for calm. "We need to be united at this hour so that no one can take undue advantage of the situation and harm the independence and democracy of the nation," he said in a televised address.

But calm has been the last thing on the minds of many Nepalese after a bizarre day Monday that saw the enthronement of one monarch, the funeral of another and violent reactions on the street.

In a nation that has traditionally revered its monarch, reactions to the new king were noticeably adverse on Monday, with several protesters chanting, "We don't want Gyanendra" and "Dipendra is innocent."

Conspiracy Theories

Dipendra was declared king after Friday's shootings, but never knew of his accession. He was in a coma for two days before succumbing to his wounds.

A popular royal figure, Dipendra's reputation as an affable young man stood in stark contrast to that of his cousin Paras Shah, King Gyanendra's son and the current crown prince.

The bad boy of the Nepalese royal family that traces its lineage back to Prithvi Narayan Shah, the unifier of modern Nepal, Paras reportedly hsa been at the center of a number of car accidents in the capital. In one of the accidents, Paras was alleged to have caused the death of a famous Nepalese musician.

As Nepalese attempt to grapple with the absence of official information, conspiracy theories — including allegations that neighboring India was responsible for the massacre — have been making the rounds.

But most Nepalese do not believe theories of an international conspiracy to destabilize the country. "l don't think India has anything to do with this — we Nepalese people don't believe it," said Dileep Adhikary, a Katmandu businessman. "We just want answers because this has affected a well-loved institution in this country."

And for the moment, most Nepalese are suspicious of reports on what caused the slayings.

"Who said the crown prince did it out of love? Who saw it?" asked Adhikary. "Who said he dressed up in his military uniform before the shooting? Who saw it? Many things are said, but who saw it?"

ABCNEWS.com's Leela Jacinto contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...