Siddhi B. Ranjitkar: Why King Did Not Reply
Why King Did Not Reply
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
The High-Level Probe Commission (HLPC) set up for investigation into the atrocities committed by the security forces during the people’s movement against the despotic king in April 2006 sent a questionnaire to the palace on October 12, 2006, questioning the king about his involvement as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers in suppressing the protests giving him a week’s time for answering the questions. The king was wearing two hats – one of the king’s and another of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers during his 15-month direct and autocratic rule. However, the king as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers failed to reply to the HLPC within the deadline.
The king might have numerous reasons for disregarding the questions posed by the high-profile commission. Hence, the public in general left to guess the reasons for the king not responding to the HLPC.
Both the palace and the HLPC did not make the questions public. It was fair enough the HLPC did not disclose it at the time when it sent the questions to the palace for giving a good chance to the king of clarifying his role in suppressing the democratic movement against him. However, after the king declined to respond to the questions the HLPC should make them public as those questions are of the public interest.
On October 14, 2006, the king sent his Principal Secretary to the official residence of the Prime Minister. The king might have two reasons for sending his Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. First, next day, the seven-party alliance (SPA) Government and the Maoists were supposed to hold a decisive meeting on the fate of his crown whether to keep it or not. The king might have sent a cautionary message through his Principal Secretary Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala that removing his crown might cost him a lot. Second, the king sent his Principal Secretary for most probably discussing whether to reply to the questions posed by the HLPC or not.
Both the reasons might be true if the subsequent events unfolded afterward were a guide. Next day, Prime Minister Koirala and Chairman Prachand held only a brief meeting precisely for 15 minutes, and then postponed the-supposed-to-be crucial meeting indefinitely. Prime Minister Koirala gave word that he would come up with a concrete proposal for deciding the fate of the crown at the meeting instead Prime Minister Koirala insisted the Maoists on disarming their militia consequently making the scheduled meeting to put off for an indefinite period. Second, the local press reported that the Prime Minister suggested the Principal Secretary to the king for replying the questions posed by the HLPC.
Now, the question is why the king did not bother to reply to the HLPC. As already mentioned, reasons might be numerous but some of them could be guessed for the public consumption.
First of all, the king might have the phobia of exposing his misdeeds during his tenure as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Perhaps, the HLPC would need to recommend the government to take actions against the king for the unconstitutional acts he had committed as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers if the king replied to the questions. The king might have thought such events would have made the Shah dynasty disgraceful.
Let us see how and what illegal and unconstitutional acts the king and then, as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers committed.
On October 04, 2002, the king discharged the elected Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba from duty charging him of being incompetent for holding general elections as scheduled in November 2002. The Prime Minister went to the palace with a recommendation for rescheduling the general elections as the prevailing environment was not conducive to holding free and fair elections. The king instead of following the recommendation of the Prime Minister as he was supposed to do pursuant to the Constitution of 1990 fired the elected Prime Minister in violation of the fundamental law of the country. Then the king went on engaging in unconstitutional acts appointing one person after another with dubious political background to the position of the Prime Minister at his discretion rather than following the Constitution.
On February 01, 2005, the king committed a heinous political offense usurping the power from the people, and almost suspending the Constitution of 1990. He effectively ended democracy and re-established the 238-year old Shah dynastic rule making the people his subjects rather than citizens.
Then, he committed economic misdeeds shutting down the telephones – both the landlines and cell phones, and consequently denying the people’s access to emails and Internet causing closure of regular business making huge economic losses which I leave for economists to work out.
After a week of forced shutdown of business and financial activities, the king opened the landlines intermittently for the public-use for a month. Again I leave it for the financial experts to sum up how much money the state-owned Telecom Company lost, and how much every household lost the business, and ultimately how much the nation lost the business. No doubt, the king as the head of the then-government has to answer the questions for all these business and economic losses he committed.
Now, the financial irregularity the king as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers committed during his 15-month reign. He took out hundreds of millions of rupees off-budget on top of the already highly inflated budget for his palace. Taking money off-budget is one of the terrible financial irregularities the king committed.
Then, the king took the jet plane owned by the state-run airlines for his pleasure trip to Africa causing billions of rupees of loss to the airlines. He flew on the army and civilian helicopters for his personal visits to various shrines to Goddesses and Gods. All these are the financial misdeeds the king as the head of the then-government committed during his heydays.
Now defunct, the Privy Council spent millions of rupees if not billions on political conventions and gatherings held in and outside Kathmandu for political propaganda supporting the king’s political, economic and financial wrong-doings.
The Nepal Army engaged in taking the king to the number of public gatherings held at different parts of the country for the king to see the people’s support for his autocratic regime at a huge cost to the nation. This is also the financial loss made by the Nepal Army for supporting the king’s unconstitutional acts at the cost of the taxpayers’ money.
Finally, the king is directly responsible for killing more than 20 unarmed and peaceful protestors by the security forces during the people’s movement against the king’s dictatorial regime in April 2006.
Perhaps, the king did not want to bring all these wrongs to light answering the questions sent to him by the high-profile probe commission. The king was not above the law when he wore the hat of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and committed mundane misdeeds. So, the king was accountable to the people and must answer to the people if he did not want to the high-profile commission.
Saturday, November 04, 2006