Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A day after Gyanendra Shah left Narayanhiti Palace...

So, these are the headlines of major broadsheet dailies published from Kathmandu on Thursday.

I came to office little early today and went through major dailies. It was interesting that stated-owned dailies--Gorakhapatra and The Rising Nepal--have not given as much importance as they should have given to the former king's exit from Narayanhiti palace. On Wednesday, Radio Nepal and Nepal Television also did not broadcast former king's press conference live while all private TV channels and FM stations did it from the venue of the conference itself. Since the Ministry of Information and Communication, under whose jurisdiction they work, is headed by the CPN(Maoists), I could guess there must be some sort of directives from Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara himself in this regard.

Well, the former king Gyanendra left Narayanhiti Palace at about 9:45 pm wednesday amidst tight security. While Gyanendra and his spouse Komal were escorted from the palace to Nagarjuna Durbar, hundreds of people, especially youngsters, were rejoicing the historic moment outside the Palace. There were also some people, mostly elderly men, women and sages, expressing their grief to the abdication of Gyanendra. They were seen crying to their heart.

Unlike what many were apprehensive about things today are ok except serpentine queues seen in front of gas stations in Kathmandu Valley. Even as the government made sharp increase in the prices of petroleum products two days ago, there are no signs of improvement in the supply of petrol, diesel and cooking gas as yet. Looking at the serpentine queue my friends have to be in just for filling four liter petrol, I feel I made a right decision not to get a motorcycle. [During day time I have so many public vehicles on the streets for travel, while in the evening there are office vehicles to drop me to my home! ......silly idea anyway...]

Frustrated over having to be in queue to fill petrol in his two wheeler for hours in scorching sun, one of my colleagues in the office commented, "I have nothing to with republic or monarchy. All I need is the availability of basic things with ease and effective law and order situation. I have no concern at all as to who is in the helm of power---be it Prachanda, Girija, Madhav Kumar or even same old naughty boy Gyanendra!

Adiue Monarchy, king Gyanendra!

The history of 240-year old institution of monarchy in Nepal came to end with the the ousted king Gyanendra handing over crown and scepter to the Government of Nepal and officially leaving Narayanhiti Palace once and for all on Wednesday. Speaking emotionally to media persons in a hurriedly called press conference in Narayanhiti Palace this evening, former King Gyanendra not only tried to clarify what he said 'baseless' allegation that he and his family members were behind royal massacre in 2058 BS, but also attempted to defend royal coup staged in February 2005 saying that he had no ill intention on that. Amidst report that he was seeking asylum in India, former king Gyanendra also made it clear that he would live in the Motherland Nepal and best serve the interest of nation and people as a whole in the years to come.

Whatever may be the causes, the once highly revered institution monarchy is gone now. The question that crops to my mind is : what next?

Political party leaders, especially Maoists, have assured people that things would witness remarkable improvement once the monarchy is uprooted. Neverthless, I am confused to tackle the question if the monarchy was solely responsible for the backwardness and poverty of Nepalese people? And I do not think the least that declaration of republic alone would help fulfill the desires of ordinary people living in rural areas like Karnali and do away with inherent problems plaguing our society. The real problem our country will have to face when ordinary people living below extreme poverty line are forced to take to the streets again, looking some other alternative. [..if republic too failed to yield any changes for them.]

As a journalist, I have another woe in the new political set up: guarantee of full-fledged democratic excercise in the country. Given the latest remarks of CPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal with regards to media, I am very much apprehensive that the newly emerged communist party would curtail press freedom. I wish that would not take place!

Many would call king Gyanendra was a absolute dictator. But I would not buy that opinion. I am well aware that media under Gyanendra's regime were allowed to write whatever they wished to, except during initial months. I don't know if that would happen under Maoist Chairman Dahal's rule.

It is time to be vigilant over the unfolding political development in the country. Even as I am a die-hard republican, personally, I am not much in the mood to celebrate king's exit from Narayanhiti today. I will celebrate the day only when I am assured that there is guarantee of full-fledged democracy, human rights, individual liberty and most importantly press freedom in the much hyped Federal Democratic Republic of [New] Nepal !

Here is what former king Gyanendra had to say to Nepalese people.

Press statement from former His Majesty Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shahdev, King of Nepal

Dear Nepalese brothers and sisters,

This country which came into being 240 years back as a garden of four castes and thirty-six sub castes as imagined and established by our ancestor His Majesty, the Great King Prithivi Narayan Shah, is going through a period of very serious and sensitive upheaval. It is well known that the Nepalese Monarchy which has always been activised for the people's prosperity and progress has always been working together and cooperating with the happiness and woes of Nepalese people. Burning examples of that are unification, preservation of nationalism, democratization, and modernization through the united efforts of the king and national integrity as equivalent to the value of our lives. Our committed energized feelings towards these values and standards have remained constant from the past and are equally strong in the present and will remain so in the future.

I would like to inform everybody concerned that when seven years back because of an unnatural, unexpected and tragic incident while shouldering the responsibility of Head of the state according to the national heritage and ages of old monarchical traditions, I had no other interests except considerations for the sovereignty, independence, national pride, territorial integrity, peace and institutional development of democratic, and overall progress of all the citizens. In the then Hindu kingdom of Nepal, the birth place of Buddha the efforts started, with the best of intention trying to ensure the peace and prosperity in the country were not successful overtime, which I have already accepted earlier. The chain of events and ensuring results are obvious to everybody like an open book.

I would like to express, with God as my witness, certain things which I couldn't express earlier because of my official responsibilities but which was troubling my inner heart all the time, through you dear journalist friends to my Nepalese brothers and sisters and the international community. May be we should call it a destiny that when I was innocent child, I had neither any wish nor desire nor any possibility of having a distinct role except the compulsion to have to quietly accept the crown. Likewise, for the second time when an unimaginable and horrifying event took place on the night of Jestha 19th, 2058, I could not express through word my internal pain when I was compelled and tied up by the chains of tradition and duty without being even able to shed tears over the mortal remains of those respected and beloved family members and lighten the burden of pain at the gruesome destruction of my close relatives. Even at that time some people blamed and accused me and my family with great indiscretion and cruelty but we had no alternative but to tolerate that too, nor were there people who spoke on our behalf. Being prejudiced against me and my family members the efforts which were continuously started through different means by taking advantage of those circumstances and events, have been very painful to us and are still so. Other members of Royal family who were wounded and but survived the incident in the Royal Palace are still alive. They are also witness to it. The bullet fragments, which couldn't not be taken out for technical reason are still in the body of my wife who was also wounded and survived. The detailed facts had also come out from the medical doctors involved in their treatment. The high level Royal Investigation Commission had already made public the detailed report about the incident. When all Nepalese people and the Royal Family were overwhelmed with grief, at that time, to level accusations and blame in this way seems to be a strategy to damage the goodwill of the Nepalese people towards the institution of Monarchy and to spread ill will, which was also not compatible with human suffering.

Likewise, I have also heard false rumors about allegations that I have property abroad. All my property is in Nepal. I have no movable or immovable property in foreign lands. The property which had been bequeathed to me from my ancestors, according to Nepalese laws is also not in my name and I have institutionalized it maintaining that property and have only conserved it. During the last seven years neither have I added to any property nor have I taken any actions by which the traditional property of any members of the Royal family. I believe that I would also have rights to maintain private property according to the prevalent laws of Nepal.

Respecting Constitutional Assembly elections and the decision taken by the constituent assembly meeting on Jestha 15th, I am cooperating in every way towards the successful implementation of that decision. I have not also thought of leaving the country. I would like to leave in my own Motherland and contribute in whatever way possible for greater good of the country and peace in this land. I believe that there will be support from all sectors.

I pledge to be completely dedicated to the independence and territorial integrity of the nation of Nepal which was formed and has remained independent and sovereign because of the blood, sweet and sacrifice of the great ancestors of us Nepalese, wherever and whatever circumstances I may be in. I love the independence of this nation. My feelings and sentiments are that of sanctity, individuality and original values of this independent nation should always be preserved. My heartfelt good wishes are for the overall welfare of the self respecting common Nepalese people.

Today, on this date, I have handed over the Crown and Scepter used by the Kings of Shah dynasty and which has remained as heirloom in this dynasty to the Government of Nepal for safekeeping and protection for ages to come.

Finally, on behalf of my family members and myself, I would like to express my sorrow, if anybody has been inadvertently hurt by actions of my own or of the members of my family while I was working as Head of State for the welfare of Nepal and the Nepalese. I would like to express gratitude to all citizens, constitutional organs, judicial sector, security organizations, civil servants, teachers, professors, students, farmers, laborers, industrialists, businessmen, intellectual youths, religious organizations, journalists, civil society, personnel working in the Royal palace service and all others from different walks of life and all the other associated Nepalese inside and outside Nepal who extended their cooperation to me. I would also like to thank the friendly neighboring countries who have always wished well for Nepal, the international community and representative of diplomatic corps. I would also like to thank the members of the Committees for Security and management recently deputed by the Government of Nepal. I would like to thank the government of Nepal for all the help and cooperation extended to me. I also hope that like now, I would keep on getting the same level of necessary cooperation from the Government of Nepal in the future too.

May Lord Pashupatinath bless us all.

Jaya Nepal

Date: June 11, 2008