Ex-king's aides condemn Indian media slur on Paras

Kathmandu : Deposed king Gyanendra’s aides Tuesday condemned reports in the Indian media about links between Pakistan-based terror kingpin Dawood Ibrahim and Nepal’s former crown prince Paras, calling them part of a wild propaganda that would mar India-Nepal relations.

“No evidence was produced to substantiate the claim that former crown prince Paras was involved in running a fake Indian currency racket (that distributed fake currency manufactured in Pakistan to India through Nepal),” the former king’s aides said.

“In the past too the Indian media have circulated malicious propaganda about Nepal and Nepalis and never bothered to apologise even after being found in the wrong.

“It is a most unethical thing to do.”

In December 1999, when an Indian Airlines aircraft with more than 180 passengers was hijacked on its way to New Delhi from Kathmandu, a section of the Indian media initially reported that the hijackers were Nepali.

Also, in 1991, when Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, India’s intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing had suggested to the commission probing the killing that Nepal’s then queen Aishwarya could have funded it, a suggestion that was subsequently proved to be false and embarrassing for the Indian government.

The allegations about the former crown prince, reportedly made by India’s Anti-Terrorist Squad, were ignored Tuesday by Nepal’s media except for the opposition party, the Maoists, whose mouthpiece, the Janadisha daily, gleefully reported what the Indian dailies had said.

An independent television channel, Avenues Television, Tuesday said that a photograph carried by an Indian television station, allegedly showing Paras shaking hands with Dawood, was ‘manipulated’.

“The reports (in the Indian media) have no ground for credibility,” said veteran politician Kamal Thapa, whose Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal) is the only parliamentary party in the Himalayan republic to campaign for the restoration of monarchy.

“The way the propaganda was unleashed smacks of a sinister motive,” the 54-year-old former minister said. “This could negatively impact Indo-Nepal relations.”

Gyanendra is related to several members of India’s aristocracy and former royal families. The allegations against his family are likely to create anger in India as well, the aides said.

The government of Nepal, however, decided to stay out of the controversy.

“Gyanendra is a commoner now,” Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala said.

“It is up to him to refute the allegations, not the government.”

The three-month-old government of Nepal remains gripped by two grave crises. The post of the republic’s first vice-president has become inactive since Sunday due to a Supreme Court order after the incumbent, Paramananda Jha, refused to take his oath of office and secrecy in Nepali though the apex court said his earlier Hindi oath was unconstitutional.

Also, since last month, the Maoists have begun a siege of parliament, preventing the house from holding its business.

Preoccupied with the two crises that are threatening to derail the peace process, the government indicated it would not take up the issue with India.

“Both the former king and his son are highly controversial,” said Bishnu Rijal, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s media advisor. “The government is not going to comment on this issue.”

Paras, who was the heir to the Nepal throne before the Hindu kingdom became a republic last year, remains unpopular due to his quick temper and playboy image. He has come for more than his fair share of brickbats due to the public animosity against him.

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