By Ameet Dhakal
News Editor, The Kathmandu Post
Finally, time has brought King Gyanendra to people’s custody. As the world speculates about the final verdict, the Nepali people are just waiting for the inevitable to happen; for them, the verdict is a foregone conclusion. They don’t see any outcome other than a republic. Sorry, king, time has run out for you.
We, in this newspaper, had cautioned the king of this eventuality many times, as many other well-intentioned people had done. We had warned him that no monarchy had ever won a war against its own people. But the king’s sullied ego blocked his conscience, and the view of the rapidly shifting ground reality.
King Gyanendra lost the final call of history to save his dynasty on the Nepali New Year’s day (April 14). That was the last opportunity he squandered. He could have used the auspicious day to reconcile with his own people. Instead, he misused it to replay his old arrogance.
Since the New Year day, people have come to the streets with new vigor, braving bullets, tear gas and, of course, the brutality of the mediaeval age. The brutal suppression has only been responded by increasing defiance. On Thursday, some three to five hundred thousand protestors hit the streets of the capital city defying shoot-at-sight curfew orders. Hardly any other popular uprising in modern times has been so defiant, so fierce. The Nepalis have indeed secured a unique place in the history of “people’s power”.
This uprising has also shattered two myths about Nepal: First, a western belief that many Nepali people see their king as the incarnation of Lord Bishnu. The West has always failed to see Nepali’s faith in monarchy in the right perspective and has portrayed it as a cult worship. Such portrayal denies the Nepalis the rational side of their faith. True that some Nepalis see the king as god, but then any good person in the society is also often referred to as bhagawan ko avatar. So linking human being to god is an idea, an acknowledgement of good character. It’s not a blind faith that elevates human beings to god.
This king-god concept was hyped by the western media especially during the Royal Palace massacre in 2001. The parachute journalists landed in Kathmandu to cover a massacre that was so bizarre that it had no logical explanation. The nation itself was in shock and disbelief. The god-king theory became handy to report a nation in a shock.
The truth was, in King Birendra’s death, the Nepalis hadn’t lost a god but a king who had accepted democracy and had bowed down twice before people’s wish. I too had shaved my head, as thousands of other youth had done, not to mourn a god’s death but to pay tribute to a king who had shown courage to dump his father’s legacy and arrogance. In the current uprising, the Nepali people are rising against a king who sees his brother’s rule as a weak aberration and wants to thrust tyranny upon the Nepali people once again.
This has also shattered the second myth: Nepal is rapidly becoming a failed state. A nation becomes a failed state not when its leaders fail to deliver during a crisis but when its people lack the courage and enthusiasm to intervene in it. It’s the hopelessness of the people that pushes a country down the abyss. Nepalis seeming indifference to the crises coupled with the Maoist insurgency and the king’s ambition to rule the country with iron-fist had definitely given such an impression. But a different reality has dawned during the last two weeks. Nepalis from all walks of life have come to the street risking their lives to save the fate of their nation. Even during such a hopeless time, people haven’t lost faith in their collective capacity to redeem their society. This country can never fail. Instead, people’s continuous belief in democracy and freedom and their intervention during the crisis has shown that this country has a future. Thus, this country’s long term prospects are a certainity.
But in the short run, there are still worries. The archaic monarchy is down, but not yet out. It will try to craft a compromise for itself, which now seems a daunting task. More and more angry protests will pour in in the days to come and there will be more violence. Between two to three million people have already marched in the streets across the country in the last two weeks. These people will not back off, for this is a rage of the silent majority that woken up saying enough is enough.
Here comes the role of the international community, particularly India, the United States and the United Nations. The US and the Indian armies should exert their influence and start talking to army generals in Kathmandu to get ready to accept Nepal without monarchy, if that’s the price of saving this country. The indiscriminate firing by the security personnel, particularly the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA), should no longer continue against the soaring protestors. For, that will bring a human catastrophe in the country.
If the RNA fails to understand the gravity of the situation, India and United States, with consent of China, should be ready for a UN intervention in Nepal to save the imminent bloodbath in this country. Rest, leave upon god.
Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post