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Man arrested for Nepal royal massacre
Kathmandu, Aug 7 (IANS):
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Published on 7 Aug. 2009 10:59 PM IST
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Moving quickly after a 59-year-old man claimed to have had plotted the assassination of Nepal’s King Birendra and nine more members of the royal family in the tightly guarded pagoda palace in Kathmandu eight years ago, Nepal police arrested Tul Prasad Sherchan in a swoop around midnight Thursday. Sherchan was going to a meeting in an undisclosed place when the motorcycle he was riding pillion was stopped by police in the cap ital and he was marched off. His companion and media advisor told IANS he has been kept in the Hanumandhoka police station. The arrest came a day after Sherchan walked into a club frequented by journalists and claimed to have had plotted the massacre in June 2001 that is regarded as the point when monarchy started crumbling in the world’s only Hindu kingdom. Dressed in traditional Nepali clothes and a traditional cap, the bespectacled man, who looked to be in his 60s, told the stunned gathering Wednesday that he was Tul Prasad Sherchan, chief of the intelligence bureau during King Birendra’s reign. Sherchan said he had planned the massacre in 1975, and the plot was hatched in London. He also claimed he had tapes to bear out his claim. Asked what made him plan the destruction of the royal family, he claimed he had information that the members of the royal family had siphoned away money received as aid from foreign donors. Had that “incredible” wealth been invested in Nepal, it would have transformed the economy of a nation that is among the poorest in the world, the man said. Sherchan also claimed that he had repeatedly asked the royal family to invest part of their money in Nepal. But they refused and even jailed him for 38 months, “compelling” him to plot the murder. The claim was greeted by stunned disbelief and even derision. Nepal’s major media ignored the claim while the lightweights poked fun at Sherchan, calling his claim an elaborate April Fool joke. Royalists remained tightlipped, saying they had not heard of anyone called Tul Prasad Sherchan. Only the Maoists, who have threatened to block parliament from Friday demanding the current government’s ouster, reported the incident gleefully, linking it with deposed king Gyanendra’s likely visit to India in December. Since the palace massacre June 1, 2001, Birendra’s younger brother Gyanendra, who ascended the throne, became unpopular from the very start of his reign due to prevailing suspicion that he had a hand in the tragedy, an allegation that he denied forcefully when he was stripped of his crown last year and compelled to leave the palace. With the ousted king expected to visit India in December to attend family weddings, the Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily Thursday said Sherchan’s admission taking blame for the killings was `significant’.

 
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