Two years after Nepal’s royal family were turned into commoners and stripped of all privileges, former crown prince Paras Bir Bikram Shah on Tuesday paid the penalty for still living in the past as police arrested him and slapped him with attempt to murder charge.
Watched by shocked supporters and advisors, the controversial 39-year-old, who had in the past escaped facing manslaughter, battery and assault charges, was taken into custody by policemen who surrounded the plush Fulbari resort in Pokhara city.
The former heir to Nepal’s throne flew in there with his friends after creating a fracas at Chitwan wildlife reserve last weekend.
After a standoff with the hotel authorities, police took the pony-tailed, fiery-tempered Paras under control to fly him back to Chitwan district, where an attempted murder charge has been filed against him, the state-run Nepal Television reported.
The payback for the wayward prince started after he got into a drunken dispute with a fellow guest on Saturday night at the Tiger Tops wildlife lodge in Chitwan district, threatened his victim and fired shots in the air.
Ordinarily, the brawl would have been hushed up but the incident snowballed since the victim was the son-in-law of the deputy prime minister, Ms Sujata Koirala.
Paras reportedly declined to speak, saying he wanted to return to his residence in Kathmandu and consult his lawyers first.
The police action came after mounting public and political pressure on the caretaker government of Nepal to take punitive action against the wayward former royal.
The 39-year-old controversial former heir to Nepal’s throne, notorious for his quick temper and fondness for alcohol, hit the headlines with a vengeance two years after the abolition of monarchy in Nepal and his self-exile to Singapore for picking a drink-driven fight with Rubel Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi national married to Koirala’s daughter Melanie.
During the quarrel, Paras allegedly threatened to kill Chowdhury along with his wife and three-and-a-half year old son, and finally fired several shots in the air.
As media outcry and political condemnation started pouring in, it was also discovered that the pony-tailed former prince did not have a licence for his pistol.
Though Nepal’s weak caretaker government had initially turned a blind eye to the shooting, it was however forced to take token action after protests by Ms Koirala’s Nepali Congress, the largest party in the ruling alliance, and the media outcry.
After a four-member police team had been sent to the Chitwan resort to investigate, the home ministry said it had also formed a second probe panel headed by a deputy inspector-general of police.
This is the first time that police have taken into custody a member of the erstwhile royal family that, though stripped of all legal immunity after the abolition of monarchy in 2008, continues to wield formidable power still.
Paras’ victim, Mr Rubel Chowdhury remained shaken still.
Mr Chowdhury said Paras had got into a conversation with him at the Chitwan resort Saturday night.
Initially, he seemed a "nice guy", Chowdhury said, till he began drinking.
Then a change came over the former crown prince who revealed his raw wound at having lost his chance to become the king of Nepal and being turned into a commoner.
Mr Chowdhury said he accused the Koirala family of being instrumental in the abolition of monarchy and threatened to kill Mr Chowdhury, his wife and son.
Issuing a statement soon after the brawl, Paras said Mr Chowdhury and his companion, an Indian, had insulted him, his family and his country, an allegation that Mr Chowdhury denied.
"How could I insult Nepal?" Mr Chowdhury said. "I am married to a Nepali myself."
Now there is also fresh public concern about the number of illegal firearms still lying in the possession of Nepal’s former royals.
Carrying a gun illegally can fetch its owner a fine ranging from NRS 60,000-140,000 or a prison sentence of up to seven years or both.
He could also face an attempt to murder, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 16 years.(IANS)