On This Day

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Crown Prince Dipendra

On This Day: Nepali Prince Shoots Family, Self

June 01, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra, inflamed by alcohol and family strife, shot himself after killing his parents and seven other royals.

Dipendra Kills Self, Nine Members of Royal Family

Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram’s palace shooting spree began after his mother tried to veto his chosen fiancée. Dipendra wanted to marry Devyani Rana, a young woman from the familial line from which the Nepali monarchy traditionally chose its wives. However, Dipendra's parents objected to her Indian royal lineage.

After a family argument, Dipendra drank to the point of collapse and had to be helped back to his room by his cousin, Paras Shah. About an hour later, gunfire rang out across Narayanhiti Palace.

Using an assault rifle, Dipendra shot his father, King Birendra, then gunned down his uncle, Prince Dhirendra, as well as Prince Nirajan, Queen Aishwarya and Princess Shruti, before turning the weapon on himself. After the royal massacre, Rana reportedly fled Nepal, fearing for her safety.

“He looked exactly like the Terminator, absolutely expressionless and very focused … He was out there spraying bullets like a madman,” described Dipendra’s aunt, Princess Ketaki. “He was kicking bodies and just shooting them at close range just to ensure that they had died.”

Ambulances rushed Dipendra to a military hospital. He was named king the next day, but his reign lasted only 48 hours, ending when he died from his wounds on June 4.
The Nepali people were told that the shootings were “accidental,” because Dipendra, as a monarch, was traditionally and legally above reproach. Confusion and suspicion about the killings caused turmoil, and several days of rioting followed in which two people were killed and 19 injured, with calm restored only after three nights of curfews.

King Birendra was widely mourned as “a monarch who had used his influence to improve things for the highly impoverished Himalayan nation,” reported The Associated Press.

The End of the Nepali Monarchy

King Birendra’s brother, Gyanendra, became ruler upon Dipendra’s death. Many Nepali citizens resisted his rule, with some even suspecting him of helping to plot the royal murders.

The Nepali monarchy was to end with Gyanendra’s reign. Maoist insurgents battled the king’s forces, finally winning power after an election in April 2008. They abolished the monarchy on May 28, 2008, and the country became a republic.

According to Princess Ketaki, the weakening power of the monarchy may have played a role in Dipendra’s rampage; he was “frustrated at the thought of fulfilling the role of a modern monarch and was reluctant to relinquish the feudal role of absolute king,” explained the BBC.

Reference: Nepal’s History and Culture

The CIA World Factbook has an outline of Nepal’s demographics, economy and history.

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