10 June 2024

Was Pakistan’s ISI Involved in the Nepal Royal Massacre of 2001?

Rajeev Bhattacharyya

On June 1, 2001, a drunk Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah allegedly killed 11 members of the Nepali Royal Family, including his father, King Birendra, before turning the gun on himself. The massacre reportedly followed an argument between Dipendra and his parents, who objected to his plans to marry local aristocrat Devyani Rana. Some observers also believed that the king’s apparent willingness to consider a Maoist proposal to make the Nepali monarchy as ceremonial one in order to end the insurgency infuriated his son, resulting in the mass murder.

Several other theories circulated in the months after the Palace massacre. Within days of the killings, underground Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai wrote that the incident was the outcome of a political conspiracy. The needle of suspicion also pointed in the direction of the king’s brother, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, who was absent from the palace on the night of the killings and assumed the throne after the bloodshed. He has denied involvement in the incident.

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