Paras Shah: Crown Prince to Prison?

Former crown prince of Nepal Paras Shah was ‘taken under control’ by police on charges of firing with an illegal bullet at a resort inside a national park late night and threatening a Bangladeshi of life. No matter what will the court decide, the series of incidents has a greater impact in Nepal’s political scenario as it symbolically indicates the ‘real’ end of the monarchic power and is also a step towards the no-tolerance towards criminal activities under political hood.

I believe that it was wrong for Paras Shah, 38, to threaten anyone with a pistol and fire a round in air regardless of the degree of provocation injected by the person on the other side. It was a crime for a commoner (Paras Shah declared himself similar to a commoner) to carry an unlicensed weapon, to carry weapon inside a national park and to threaten someone of life firing on air.

Paras Shah is infamous for getting wild drunk. Previously, he had been accused of hitting and killing at least two persons, including a singer, driving drunk. His brawls and misbehaviors in bars and discos of Kathmandu frequently made headlines – and for many Nepalis when his father Gyanendra Shah was declared the king after the Royal Massacre of 2001, it was the image of Paras Shah, the future king, that they felt uncomfortable with. Knowing all this, the then King Gyanendra took time to declare him the crown prince.

It’s understandable that the 2007 declaration of republicanism has hurt the royals and royalists – for them it was a loss of power, money and respect, something very hard to digest. But it looked like they had accepted it as a man’s fortune wheel and respected the opinions of the people they had received the respect from.

From their point of view, it was still possible for the return of monarchy (Gyanendra and Paras Shah had separately told during public interviews that if the people wished, that could happen) or at least they remain within a powerful elites of the country. And, they were on the course of rebuilding the tainted image – mainly through using beautiful Himani Shah (the wife of Paras Shah). Himani Shah established a social service trust and was seen as a loving mother of her three children.

Meanwhile, Gyanendra and Paras Shah continued being humble – smiling swiftly to television cameras, talking briefly to televisions, attending religious and social functions and not commenting harshly on politics but always indicating that they are not out of the scene. Whatsoever rebuilding they had completed crumbled with a shot of a pistol.

The police arrest was the last thing the former Royals wanted. The political pressure mounted on the government to arrest him (also because the man Paras Shah threatened happened to the son-in-law of Deputy Prime Minister and a powerful Nepali Congress politician Sujata Koirala). And, after the incident, it should have happened – no one should be beyond the clutches of the law.

Paras Shah arrested: that alone symbolizes the time that has changed. And, yes, indeed it has changed for, at least, the former Royals.

UPDATE I on Dec 16: Paras Shah was released on bail amount of Rs. 10,000. Although this is not the end of the case, it’s highly unlikely that there will be further punishment as Chaudhary declined to help police and register the case. Meanwhile, Nepal’s top national daily Kantipur reported that Chaudhary is involved in illegal activities of VoIP and contracts. Personally, I hope there will be investigation on Chaudhary.

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