Public opinion turning against Dipendra?

KATHMANDU, JUNE 16. The late crown prince, Dipendra, argued with his parents over his plans to marry Ms. Devyani Rana, before shooting them, the official report of the two-member commission probing Nepal's royal massacre revealed today. The commission set up by King Gyanendra, made its report public on Thursday but revealed more details in a 140-page report posted on the Internet. Prince Paras, the new crown prince, said marriage was the motive for the massacre. ``As far as I am concerned, the problem was the issue of marriage. Whatever happened I always agreed with what my brother (Dipendra) ordered.''

The report also talks about the close relationship that Dipendra and Ms. Rana enjoyed. They had been dating for seven years, according to Dipendra's aide-de-camp, Capt. R.K. Karki, who was on leave on the night of the shootings. He added that Dipendra used to bring Ms. Rana to the palace and ``the first time was probably two years ago.''

A friend of Dipendra's, Ms. Supriya Shah, who he is believed to have dated at school, told the commission, ``I had spoken to Dipendra over phone that day at around 11.00 a.m. He said that he would call me that night, but he did not.'' Ms. Shah, who is said to have had a `friendly relationship' with Dipendra, told the committee that ``he wished to marry Ms. Devyani.''

Meanwhile, in the first-ever open criticism of Dipendra, the English daily The Kathmandu Post in a hard-hitting editorial on the commission report said, ``not so upbeat is the image of the then crown prince that emerges from the committee's findings. The image is one of a dual persona, one cultivated by the palace for public consumption and another that was less savoury.''

Had the public known more about this, there would have been less astonishment and incredulity over what happened in the end, it said, adding ``it is now incumbent upon the palace to make the public privy to the shadier side of things so that it all adds up. Greater transparency is the word even when it comes to the palace.''

The newspaper also said that in the palace premises, there was an urgent need to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of all but those who have a legitimate need for carrying them. ``If this means frisking everyone including royalty who seek access to the monarch or his spouse, so be it.'' The views expressed by the newspaper seems to be slowly gaining ground among the masses too, who had initially refused to believe that Dipendra could have killed his parents and other royals.

``It is a good thing that he (Dipendra) did not become our king. What would have happened to the kingdom under a monarch, who was an alcoholic and a drug addict? asked Jang Bahadur Thapa, a commoner.