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Nepal’s ex-crown prince Paras released on bail
Kathmandu, Dec 16 (Agencies):
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Published on 17 Dec. 2010 12:36 AM IST
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Nepal’s controversial former crown prince Paras Bir Bikram Shah Thursday triumphantly walked out of police custody on bail after being arrested Tuesday for allegedly threatening the son-in-law of Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala in a drunken brawl.
Hundreds of royalist supporters gathered in front of the chief district administrator’s office in Chitwan district in southern Nepal, lustily shouting slogans in support of the crown and the former prince as the 39-year-old was released on a bail of NRS 10,000.
The district authorities and police were hard-pressed to bring charges against him despite allegations that he was involved in a gun brawl in the plush Tiger Tops wildlife resort Saturday after his alleged victim, Koirala’s son-in-law Rubel Chowdhury, refused to bring formal charges against him.
Earlier, Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi national, had claimed Paras pointed a gun at his head after a drunken argument and threatened to kill him, his wife Melanie and their three-and-a-half-year old son. After making the threat, Paras was said to have rushed outside and fired in the air.
Though he could have been charged with carrying an illegal weapon, firing in a protected area and attempted murder, the case petered out with a nervous Chowdhury refusing to lodge even an official complaint and police bringing only a milder charge of committing a public offence.
It was the first time in Nepal’s history that a former royal was arrested. However, the public jubilation at the arrest of Paras, who had been an object of fear and hatred due to his frequent drunken brawls and arrogance, ebbed after accusations of misconduct against his victim began to surface.
Media reports Thursday alleged Chowdhury was involved in several shady deals in Nepal conducted with the patronage of top politicians.
Though there was no official confirmation, royalists began demanding an investigation into Chowdhury’s role and stay in Nepal and even members of the general public felt he did not behave the way he should have.
Chowdhury refused to return to Chitwan and give a statement to police, thereby making it a certainty that Paras would walk away with only a slight penalty.
After Paras was arrested Tuesday, reportedly under pressure from Koirala and her ruling Nepali Congress party, royalists began mounting counter-pressure, keeping up public demonstrations in key towns, calling transport and general strikes and demanding action against Chowdhury.
In Kathmandu, they called a motorcycle rally Thursday to welcome Paras back.
Though Paras’ aide had issued a statement soon after the brawl, saying he was provoked to fire after Chowdhury and his companions began insulting him, his family and his country, the former heir to Nepal’s throne however retracted the admission Wednesday, saying he had neither carried a gun nor threatened Chowdhury.
Even Chowdhury, cowed by the adverse media reports, began retracting his allegations and denied having seen Paras bring out a gun.
The drunken brawl was turned into a patriotism issue by royalists and Hindu groups who are now demanding action against Chowdhury for “insulting Nepal”.
Even the Maoists, who had fought a 10-year war to abolish monarchy, sided with Paras, saying the issue should not be politicised.
Besides the police inquiry, Nepal’s home ministry had started a second probe while the army, seven of whose soldiers had been providing security to Paras, began a court of inquiry into the conduct of the guards who were present at the scene of the brawl.
The government had also said it was withdrawing the state security given to Paras.

 
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