|Nepalese Royal Massacre|
The Narayanhity Royal Palace, former home of the Royal Family. Following the abdication of the king and the founding of a republic, the building and its grounds have been turned into a museum.
|Location||Narayanhity Palace, Kathmandu, Nepal|
|Date||1 June 2001|
(19 Jestha 2058 Nepal B.S.)
Around 21:00 (UTC+05:45)
|Target||The Nepalese Royal Family |
King Birendra of Nepal
|Regicide, familicide, mass shooting|
|Deaths||10 (including the perpretrator)|
The Nepalese royal massacre occurred on 1 June 2001, at a house on the grounds of the Narayanhiti Palace, the then-residence of the Nepalese monarchy. Nine members of the royal family, including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, were killed in a mass shooting during a gathering of the royal family at the palace. A government-appointed inquiry team named Crown Prince Dipendra as perpetrator of the massacre. Dipendra slipped into a coma after shooting himself.
Later, upon his father's death, Dipendra was declared King of Nepal while in a coma. He died in hospital three days after the massacre without regaining consciousness. Birendra's brother, Gyanendra, became king after the death of his nephew.
According to eyewitness reports and an official investigation carried by a two-man committee made up of Chief Justice Keshav Prasad Upadhyaya and Taranath Ranabhat, the speaker of the House of Representatives:
On 1 June 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra opened fire at a house on the grounds of the Narayanhity Palace, the residence of the Nepalese monarchy, where a party was being held. He shot and killed his father, King Birendra, his mother, Queen Aishwarya, and seven other members of the royal family – including his younger brother and sister – before shooting himself in the head. Due to his wiping out of most of the line of succession, Dipendra became king while in a comatose state from the head wound.
Dipendra's motive for the murders is unknown, but there are various theories. Dipendra desired to marry Devyani Rana, whom he had met in the United Kingdom. Some allege that, due to her mother's family being lower-class royals of India and her father's political alliances, Dipendra's parents objected. In fact, Devyani's Gwalior family is one of the wealthiest former royal families of India, and allegedly far wealthier than the Nepalese monarchs. The prospective bride's mother, an Indian by birth, warned her daughter that marrying the Nepalese crown prince might mean a drop in her standard of living. Dipendra's prospective bride descended, through her father, from a competing sub-branch of the Nepalese Rana clan (the Juddha Shamsher line) to that of Queen Aishwarya.
Another theory states that there was a higher possibility of Indian influence if Dipendra would be married to Devyani, to which the palace objected. Other theories allege that Dipendra was unhappy with the country's shift from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy, and that too much power had been given away following the 1990 People's Movement. This is, in fact, unlikely. The crown prince responded to the 1990 uprising, and return to an elected government, with enthusiasm while a student at Eton College, where he was finishing his studies. He later became frustrated by his father's refusal to intervene while Nepalese politicians bickered and competed among themselves while failing to make an effective response to the rising Maoist threat.
Much controversy surrounds the circumstances of the massacre, and even today, with the monarchy abolished following the 2006 revolution, many questions remain within Nepal about its cause. Sources of the yet-unanswered questions include details such as the apparent lack of security at the event; the absence from the party of Prince Gyanendra, Dipendra's uncle who succeeded him; the fact that, despite being right-handed, Dipendra's self-inflicted head-wound was located at his left temple, and that two bullets were found to be lodged in the temple instead of one; and finally that the subsequent investigation lasted for only two weeks and did not involve any major forensic analysis, despite an offer by Scotland Yard to carry one out.
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- King Birendra
- Queen Aishwarya
- Crown Prince (later HM King) Dipendra, elder son of Birendra and Aishwarya
- Prince Nirajan, younger son of Birendra and Aishwarya
- Princess Shruti, daughter of Birendra and Aishwarya
- Prince Dhirendra, King Birendra's brother who had renounced his title
- Princess Shanti, King Birendra's eldest sister, also Rani of Bajhang
- Princess Sharada, King Birendra's middle sister
- Kumar Khadga, Princess Sharada's husband
- Princess Jayanti, King Birendra's first cousin and sister of Mrs. Ketaki Chester
- Daksh Jogchand (the second in chief of the Royal guard (2021))
- Princess Shova, King Birendra's sister
- Kumar Gorakh, Princess Shruti's husband
- Princess Komal, Prince Gyanendra's wife and the future and last Queen of Nepal
- Ketaki Chester, King Birendra's first cousin who had renounced her title (and middle sister of Princess Jayanti)
Dipendra was proclaimed king while in a coma but died on 4 June 2001, reigning for just three days. Gyanendra was appointed regent for the three days, then ascended the throne himself after Dipendra died.
While Dipendra lived, Gyanendra maintained that the deaths were the result of an "accidental discharge of an automatic weapon" within the royal palace. However, he later said that he made this claim due to "legal and constitutional hurdles", since under the constitution and by tradition, Dipendra could not have been charged with murder had he survived. A full investigation took place and Dipendra was found to be responsible for the killing.
A two-man committee comprising Chief Justice Keshav Prasad Upadhaya and Speaker of the House Taranath Ranabhat carried out the week-long investigation into the massacre. The investigation concluded, after interviewing more than a hundred people including eyewitnesses and palace officials, guards and staff, that Dipendra was the perpetrator the shooting. However, observers both inside Nepal and abroad disputed Dipendra's culpability in the incident; a close aide of Dipendra stated, "He can give up the throne for the sake of his love, but he can never do this kind of thing."[failed verification]
On 12 June 2001, a Hindu katto ceremony was held to exorcise or banish the spirit of the dead king from Nepal. A brahmin Durga Prasad Sapkota, dressed as Birendra to symbolise the late king, rode an elephant out of Kathmandu and into symbolic exile, taking many of the monarch's belongings with him. Dipendra's residence was also eventually razed to the ground.
King Birendra and his son Dipendra were very popular and well-respected by the Nepalese population. Subsequently, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), the chairman of the Nepalese Maoist Party, in a public gathering claimed that the massacre was planned by the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) or the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Promoters of these ideas allege Gyanendra had a hand in the massacre so that he could assume the throne himself. His ascent to the throne would have been possible only if both of his nephews, Dipendra and Nirajan, were eliminated. Moreover, Gyanendra and especially his son Prince Paras were very unpopular with the public. On the day of the massacre, he was in Pokhara whilst other royals were attending a dinner function. His wife Komal, Paras and daughter Prerana were in the room at the royal palace during the massacre. While the entire families of Birendra and Dipendra were killed, nobody in Gyanendra's family died: his son escaped with slight injuries, and his wife sustained a life-threatening bullet wound but survived.
In popular culture
- Super Star (also released as Stupid), a 2002 Indian film loosely based on the love story of Dipendra of Nepal and Devyani Rana, and the Nepalese royal massacre.
- The massacre is featured in the third season of the documentary series Zero Hour, based on a reconstruction of the event taken from surviving eyewitnesses.
- "Bodyguards fired over Nepal royal massacre". The Irish Times. 3 July 2001. Archived from the original on 25 April 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
- Mullins, Lisa (1 June 2011). "Why Nepal's Crown Prince Went on a Killing Spree". PRI. Archived from the original on 12 February 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
- "Dipendra was innocent: witness". The Indian Express. 24 July 2008. Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Bearak, Barry (8 June 2001). "A Witness To Massacre in Nepal Tells Gory Details". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
- "Kumar Khadga Bikram Shah : man behind the persona". Dkagencies. Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
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- "Prince Shot the whole family dead for a girl". BBC News. 2 June 2001. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- ABC News. "Nepal Banishes Soul of Dead King". ABC News. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- "Nepalese diaspora fears for future". BBC News. 4 June 2001. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "Apathy, date quirk make Nepal forget royal massacre". The Times of India. 1 June 2011. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "Nepal's errant crown prince". BBC News. 5 June 2001. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "Nepal queen leaves hospital". BBC News. 27 June 2001. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "Stupid Movie". MeeTelugu.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010.
- Padukone, Chaitanya (9 January 2007). "Pracchi's tragic take". DNA India.
- Garzilli, Enrica, "A Sanskrit Letter Written by Sylvain Lévi in 1923 to Hemarāja Śarmā Along With Some Hitherto Unknown Biographical Notes (Cultural Nationalism and Internationalism in the First Half of the 21st Cent.: Famous Indologists Write to the Raj Guru of Nepal – no. 1)", in Commemorative Volume for 30 Years of the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. Journal of the Nepal Research Centre, XII (2001), Kathmandu, ed. by A. Wezler in collaboration with H. Haffner, A. Michaels, B. Kölver, M. R. Pant and D. Jackson, pp. 115–149.
- Garzilli, Enrica, "Strage a palazzo, movimento dei Maoisti e crisi di governabilità in Nepal", in Asia Major 2002, pp. 143–160.
- Garzilli, Enrica, "A Sanskrit Letter Written by Sylvain Lévy in 1925 to Hemarāja Śarmā along with Some Hitherto Unknown Biographical Notes (Cultural Nationalism and Internationalism in the First Half of the 20th Century – Famous Indologists write to the Raj Guru of Nepal – No. 2)", in History of Indological Studies. Papers of the 12th World Sanskrit Conference Vol. 11.2, ed. by K. Karttunen, P. Koskikallio and A. Parpola, Motilal Banarsidass and University of Helsinki, Delhi 2015, pp. 17–53.