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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Press mourn Nepal king's death
Mourners showing pictures of slain king and queen
Killings spark fears of regional instability
The killing of the Nepalese royal family has generated a range of emotions in the region's media, from sadness to fear.

The overwhelming impression is of great sadness at the death of an enlightened monarch in King Birendra, although accusations have emerged of a conspiracy behind the killings.

India blamed

The conspiracy theory is to the fore in the Pakistani press. Islamabad's The News quoted the former head of the secret service as saying India was behind the deaths.

India is the main conspirator behind the Nepalese royal family massacre

Former intelligence chief in Islamabad's The News

"India is the main conspirator behind the Nepalese royal family massacre as it had warned the family not to get too close to Pakistan and China," said Lieut General Javed Nasir was quoted as saying.

Rawalpindi's Urdu-language Nawa-i-Waqt carried a report accusing India's premier intelligence service of being behind the killings.

"With the massacre of King Birendra and the royal family, not only has Pakistan lost a good friendly ruler in South Asia, but also the leadership that protected the politics of Nepal from Indian interference has passed away.

"Behind this gruesome massacre, one cannot overlook the role of RAW [India's Research and Analysis Wing]," a correspondent said. King Birendra had sought to stop India and the American CIA putting pressure on the Kathmandu government to support them in a regional power struggle with China.

Koirala, and the Indian capitalist, hegemonist rulers and other national and international fundamental reactionists were not tolerating the late King Birendra's liberal thoughts

Nepalese communists in Kathmandu Post

"King Birendra was strongly opposed to allowing his small country to fall prey to the conspiracies of the big powers... King Birendra showed great interest in extending ties with Pakistan... In the coming years, cooperation between Pakistan, Nepal and China was expected to grow."

Rebel accusation

The conspiracy theory is also shared by the banned Nepalese Communist Party, whose Maoist insurgency has resulted in over 1500 deaths in the past five years.

A statement published in Nepal's Kathmandu Post said the "patriotic and liberal" king was unhappy about Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's plan to mobilize the army to fight the rebels.

"Koirala, and the Indian capitalist, hegemonist rulers and other national and international fundamental reactionists were not tolerating the late King Birendra's liberal thoughts," the statement said. "This pre-planned massacre will have long-term effects on the future of Nepal."

Indians split over new king

In India, the Hindustan Times said "official circles" feared that the new king, Gyanendra, had "an anti-India mindset".

Official circles here are alarmed by the turn of events in Nepal. Kathmandu-watchers feel Gyanendra... has an anti-India mind-set

Hindustan Times

"Official circles here are alarmed by the turn of events in Nepal. Kathmandu-watchers feel Gyanendra not only has an anti-India mind-set but is also believed to have patronised elements having close links with Pakistan in the none-too-distant past."

However, the Hindustan Times also quoted former Indian ambassador to Nepal Bimal Prasad as saying: "I did not find any indication of hostility towards India in my interaction with Gyanendra."

Writing in The Times of India, Dubby Bhagat concurred. "Gyanendra... is the pragmatist visionary to his brother's unfettered idealism... if anyone can rise above intrigue, and weld together the warring factions of Nepal's new found democracy, Prince Gyanendra can.
King Gyanendra of Nepal
Mixed feelings about new king

"His detractors have labelled him anti-Indian. He is assuredly not. He will listen to anyone who he sees as having resonance and cerebral worth. It is for India to provide such a person to manage the fragile relationship between the two countries."

Widespread praise

In an editorial, The Hindustan Times lauded the king as "a stabilising influence in the midst of squabbling politicians".

A lofty figure of continuity who transcended the murky world of parliamentary politics

The Times of India

"Other countries in its neighbourhood may wonder how tragedy seems to stalk the ruling families in this region," it said, pointing to similar experiences in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Times of India described King Birendra as "a lofty figure of continuity who transcended the murky world of parliamentary politics".

"In Nepal's hour of grief, the tragedy should awaken the politicians - who have fouled the democratic pitch - to their mandated responsibilities," the Times argued. The Maoist insurgency could only be tackled by raising living standards.

"There is no reason for such unmitigated poverty in Nepal with its rich abundance of natural resources and hard-working people."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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04 Jun 01 | South Asia
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