History of Nepal

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Map of Greater Nepal (with part of ceded territory).jpg

The history of Nepal is intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent and the surrounding regions, comprising the areas of South Asia and East Asia.

Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multiracial, multicultural, multi-religious, and multilingual country. The most spoken language is Nepali followed by several other ethnic languages.

The Kingdom of Nepal was established in 1768 and started a campaign of unifying all of Nepal that would form modern territories of Nepal. Some former territories had been lost due to the kingdom having participated in the Sino-Nepalese War which ended in both victory and loses, ultimately accepting as a tribute state of Qing dynasty of China from 1792 to 1865.[1] The Anglo-Nepalese War ended in British victory and ceded some Nepalese territory. In a historical vote for the election of the constituent assembly, the Nepalese parliament voted to abolish the monarchy in June 2006. Nepal became a federal republic on 28 May 2008 and was formally renamed the 'Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal' ending the 200-year-old reign of the Shah monarchs.

Toponymy[edit]

In a Licchavi-era inscription found in Tistung, the local people have been addressed as the 'Nepals'. Experts are of the opinion that some or all of the inhabitants of Nepal in the ancient period were likely called 'Nepals', which meant that the word 'Nepal' was used to refer to both the land and its population. These Nepals are considered the progenitors of modern-day Newars. The terms 'Nepal' and 'Newar' are variations of the same term. Other variants found in medieval texts are 'Nepar' and 'Newal'.

The derivation of the word Nepal is also the subject of a number of other theories:

  • The Sanskrit word Nepalaya means "at the foot of the mountains" or "abode at the foot"; Nepal may be derived from this.
  • The Tibetan word Niyampal means "holy land". Nepal may be derived from it.
  • Some inhabitants of northern Nepal came from Tibet, where they herded sheep and produced wool. In Tibetan, ne means "wool" and pal means "house". Thus, Nepal is "house of wool".[2]
  • A popular theory is that Lepcha people used the words ne ("holy") and pal ("cave") and thus Nepal to describe a "holy cave".[2]
  • According to Hindu mythology, Nepal derives its name from an ancient Hindu sage called Ne, referred to variously as Ne Muni or Nemi. According to Pashupati Purana, as a place protected by Ne, the country in the heart of the Himalayas came to be known as Nepal.[b] According to Nepal Mahatmya,[c] Nemi was charged with protection of the country by Pashupati.
  • According to Buddhist legend, the deity Manjusri drained the water from Nagadaha (a mythical lake that is believed to have filled the Kathmandu valley). The valley became habitable and was ruled by Bhuktaman a cow-herder, who took advice from a sage named "Ne". Pāla means "protector" or "taking care", so Nepal reflected the name of the sage who took care of the place, according to Nepali scholar Rishikesh Shaha.[2][3][4]

Early ages[edit]

Prehistory[edit]

Prehistoric sites of palaeolithic, mesolithic and neolithic origins have been discovered in the Siwalik hills of Dang district.[5] The earliest inhabitants of modern Nepal and adjoining areas are believed to be people from the Indus Valley Civilisation. It is possible that the Dravidian people whose history predates the onset of the bronze age in the Indian subcontinent (around 3300 BC) inhabited the area before the arrival of other ethnic groups like the Tibeto-Burmans and Indo-Aryans from across the border.[6] Tharus, Tibeto-Burmans who mixed heavily with Indians in the southern regions, are natives of the cental Terai region of Nepal.[7] The first documented tribes in Nepal are the Kirat people, who arrived into Nepal from Tibet roughly 4000 to 4500 years ago and moved into the Kathmandu valley and southern parts of Nepal, before being made to retreat elsewhere by the invading Licchavais from India who ruled the Kathmandu valley in modern-day southern parts of Nepal.[8] Other ethnic groups of Indo-Aryan origin later migrated to southern part of Nepal from Indo-Gangetic Plain of northern India.[9][10]

Another possibility for the first people to have inhabited Nepal are the Kusunda people. According to Hogdson (1847), the earliest inhabitants of Nepal were perhaps the Kusunda people, probably of proto-Australoid origin.[11]Stella Kramrisch ( 1964 ) mentions a substratum of a race of Pre - Dravidians and Dravidians , who were in Nepal even before the Newars , who formed the majority of the ancient inhabitants of the valley of Kathmandu.[12]

Legends and ancient times[edit]

Although very little is known about the early history of Nepal, legends and documented references reach far back to the 30th century BC.[13] Also, the presence of historical sites such as the Valmiki ashram, indicates the presence of Sanatana (ancient) Hindu culture in parts of Nepal at that period.

According to legendary accounts, the early rulers of Nepal were the Gopālavaṃśi (Gopal Bansa) or "cowherd dynasty", who presumably ruled for about five centuries. They are said to have been followed by the Mahiṣapālavaṃśa or "buffalo-herder dynasty", established by a Yadav named Bhul Singh.[14]

The Shakya clan formed an independent oligarchic republican state known as the 'Śākya Gaṇarājya' during the late Vedic period (c. 1000 – c. 500 BCE) and the later so-called second urbanisation period (c. 600 – c. 200 BCE).[15] Its capital was Kapilavastu, which may have been located either in present-day Tilaurakot, Nepal.[16][17][18] Gautama Buddha (c. 6th to 4th centuries BCE), whose teachings became the foundation of Buddhism, was the best-known Shakya. He was known in his lifetime as "Siddhartha Gautama" and "Shakyamuni" (Sage of the Shakyas). He was the son of Śuddhodana, the elected leader of the Śākya Gaṇarājya.

Kirat dynasty[edit]

The context of Kirats ruling in Nepal before Licchavi dynasty and after Mahispal (Ahir) dynasty are depicted in different manuscripts. Delineating the area between the Sun Koshi and Tama Koshi rivers as their native land, the list of Kirati kings is also given in the Gopal genealogy. By defeating the last king of the Avir dynasty Bhuwansingh in a battle, Kirati King Yalung or Yalamber had taken the regime of the valley under his control. In Hindu mythological perspective, this event is believed to have taken place in the final phase of Dvapara Yuga or initial phase of Kali Yuga or around the 6th century BC. Descriptions of 32, 28 and 29 Kirati kings are found according to the Gopal genealogy, language-genealogy and Wright genealogy respectively.[19] By means of the notices contained in the classics of the East and West, the Kiranti people were living in their present whereabouts for the last 2000 to 2500 years, with an extensive dominion, possibly reaching at one time to the delta of the Ganges.[20]

Greater Nepal (with Nepalese Tibetan war expansions).png

Licchavi dynasty[edit]

The kings of the Lichhavi dynasty (originally from Vaishali in modern-day India) ruled what is the Kathmandu valley in modern-day Nepal after the Kirats. It is mentioned in some genealogies and Puranas that the "Suryavansi Kshetriyas had established a new regime by defeating the Kirats". The Pashupati Purana mentions that "the masters of Vaishali established their own regime by confiding Kiratis with sweet words and defeating them in war". Similar contexts can be found in 'Himbatkhanda', which also mentions that "the masters of Vaishali had started ruling in Nepal by defeating Kirats". Different genealogies state different names of the last Kirati king. According to the Gopal genealogy, the Lichhavis established their rule in Nepal by defeating the last Kirati King 'Khigu', 'Galiz' according to the language-genealogy and 'Gasti' according to Wright genealogy.[19]

In 641, Songtsen Gampo of the Tibetan Empire sends Narendradeva back to Licchavi with an army and subjugates Nepal. Parts of Nepal and Licchavi was later under the direct influences of the Tibetan empire.[21]

Simroun dynasty[edit]

The Simroun, Karnat or Dev dynasty originated with an establishment of a kingdom in 1097 CE headquartered at present day Simroungarh in Bara district. The kingdom controlled the areas today known as Tirhoot or Mithila in Nepal and Bihar of India. The rulers of Simroungarh were as follows:[22]

  • Nanya Dev, ruled 1097-1147 CE
  • Ganga Dev, ruled 1147-1187 CE
  • Narsingh Dev, ruled 1187-1227 CE
  • Ramsingh Dev, ruled 1227-1285 CE
  • Shaktisingh Dev, ruled 1285-1295 CE
  • Harisingh Dev, ruled 1295-1324 CE

In 1324 CE, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq attacked Simroungarh and demolished the fort. The remains are still scattered across the Simroungarh region. The king, Harisingh Dev, fled northwards where his son, Jagatsingh Dev, was married to the widow princess of Bhaktapur, Nayak Devi.[23]

Thakuri Dynasty[edit]

Rule of the Thakuri kings[edit]

The Thakuri dynasty were Rajputs. After Aramudi, who is mentioned in the Kashmirian chronicle, the Rajatarangini of Kalhana (1150 CE), many Thakuri kings ruled over parts of the country up to the middle of the 12th century CE. Raghava Deva is said to have founded a ruling dynasty in 879 CE, when the Lichhavi rule came to an end. To commemorate this important event, Raghava Deva started the 'Nepal Era' which began on 20 October, 879 CE. After Amshuvarma, who ruled from 605 CE onward; the Thakuris had lost power and they could regain it only in 869 CE.

Gunakama Deva[edit]

After the death of King Raghava Dev, many Thakuri kings ruled southern Nepal up to the middle of the 12th century CE. Gunakama Deva, who ruled from 949 to 994 CE, commissioned the construction of a big wooden shelter, built from the wood of a single tree, called Kasthamandapa. The name of the capital, 'Kathmandu', is derived from this. Gunakama Deva founded the town Kantipur (modern-day Kathmandu). The tradition of Indra Jatra started during his reign. Temples to the north of the temple of Pashupatinath were renovated in this period.

Successors of Gunakama Dev[edit]

Bhola Deva succeeded Gunakama Deva. The next ruler was Laxmikama Deva who ruled from 1024 to 1040 CE. He built the Laksmi Vihara and introduced the tradition of worshiping the Kumari; young prepubescent girls believed to be manifestations of the divine female energy or devi. He was succeeded by his son, Vijayakama Deva, who introduced the worship of the Naga and Vasuki. Vijaykama Deva was the last ruler of this dynasty. After his death, the Thakuri clan of Nuwakot occupied the throne of Nepal.

Nuwakot Thakuri Kings[edit]

Bhaskara Deva, a Thakuri from Nuwakot, succeeded Vijayakama Deva and established the Nuwakot-Thakuri rule. He is said to have built Navabahal and Hemavarna Vihara. After Bhaskara Deva, four kings of this line ruled over the country. They were Bala Deva, Padma Deva, Nagarjuna Deva and Shankara Deva.

Shankara Deva (1067–1080 CE) was the most illustrious ruler of this dynasty. He established the image of 'Shantesvara Mahadeva' and 'Manohara Bhagavati'. The custom of pasting the pictures of Nagas and Vasuki on the doors of houses on the day of Nagapanchami was introduced by him. During his rule, the Buddhists wreaked vengeance on the Hindu Brahmins (especially the followers of Shaivism) for the harm they had received earlier from the Shankaracharya.[citation needed] Shankara Deva tried to pacify the Brahmins harassed by the Buddhists.

Suryavansi (the Solar Dynasty)[edit]

Bama Deva, a descendant of Amshuvarma, defeated Shankar Deva in 1080 CE. He suppressed the Nuwakot-Thankuris with the help of nobles and restored the old Solar Dynasty rule in Nepal for the second time. Harsha Deva, the successor of Bama Deva was a weak ruler. There was no unity among the nobles and they asserted themselves in their respective spheres of influence. Taking that opportunity Nanya Deva, a Karnat dynasty king, attacked Nuwakot from Simraungarh. The army successfully defended and won the battle.

Shivadeva III[edit]

After Harsha Deva, Shivadeva the third ruled from 1099 to 1126 CE. He was a brave and powerful king. He founded the town of Kirtipur and roofed the temple of Pashupatinath with gold. He introduced twenty-five paisa coins. He also constructed wells, canals, and tanks at different places.

After Sivadeva III, Mahendra Deva, Mana Deva, Narendra Deva II, Ananda Deva, Rudra Deva, Amrita Deva, Ratna Deva II, Somesvara Deva, Gunakama Deva II, Lakmikama Deva III and Vijayakama Deva II ruled Nepal in quick succession. Historians differ about the rule of several kings and their respective times. After the fall of the Thakuri dynasty, a new dynasty was founded by Arideva or Ari Malla, known as the 'Malla dynasty'.

Malla dynasty[edit]

Early Malla rule started with Ari Malla in the 12th century. Over the next two centuries, his kingdom expanded widely, into much of the Indian subcontinent and western Tibet, before disintegrating into small principalities, which later came to be known as the Baise Rajya.

Jayasthiti Malla, with whom commences the later Malla dynasty of the Kathmandu valley, began to reign at the end of the 18th century. Malla dynasty was the longest ruling dynasty in Nepalese history, ruling from the 12th century to the 18th century (about 600 years). This era in the valley is eminent for the various social and economic reforms such as the 'Sanskritization' of the valley people, new methods of land measurement and allocation, etc. In this era, new forms of art and architecture was introduced. The monuments in Kathmandu valley which are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites were built during Malla rule. In the 14th century, before Kathmandu was divided into 3 princely states, Araniko was sent to China upon the request of Abhaya Malla for representing the skill of art and architecture, and he introduced the Pagoda style of architecture to China and subsequently, whole of Asia. Yaksha Malla, the grandson of Jayasthiti Malla, ruled the Kathmandu valley until almost the end of the 15th century. After his demise, the valley was divided into three independent kingdoms—Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan—in about 1484 CE. This division led the Malla rulers into internecine clashes and wars for territorial and commercial gains. Mutually debilitating wars gradually weakened them, which facilitated the conquest of the valley by Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha. The last Malla rulers were Jaya Prakash Malla, Teja Narasingha Malla and Ranjit Malla of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur respectively.

Shah dynasty, Unification of Nepal[edit]

Mohar of king Prithvi Narayan Shah dated Saka Era 1685 (CE 1763)

Prithvi Narayan Shah (c. 1779–1875) was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559–1570), the founder of the ruling house of Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father Nara Bhupal Shah to the throne of Gorkha in 1743 CE. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was quite aware of the political situation of the valley kingdoms as well as of the Baise and Chaubise principalities. He foresaw the need for unifying the small principalities as an urgent condition for survival in the future and set himself to the task accordingly.

His assessment of the situation among the hill principalities was correct, and the principalities were subjugated fairly easily. King Prithvi Narayan Shah's victory march began with the conquest of Nuwakot, which lies between Kathmandu and Gorkha, in 1744. After Nuwakot, he occupied strategic points in the hills surrounding the Kathmandu valley. The valley's communications with the outside world were thus cut off. The occupation of the Kuti Pass in about 1756 stopped the valley's trade with Tibet. Finally, Prithvi Narayan Shah entered the valley. After the victory in Kirtipur, King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu sought help from the British and the then East India Company sent a contingent of soldiers under Captain Kinloch in 1767. The British force was defeated in Sindhuli by the Gorkhali army. This defeat of the British completely shattered the hopes of King Jaya Prakash Malla. On 25 September 1768, as the people of Kathmandu were celebrating the festival of Indra Jatra, the Gorkhali army marched into the city. Prithvi Narayan Shah sat on a throne put on the palace courtyard for the king of Kathmandu, proclaiming himself the king. Jaya Prakash Malla somehow managed to escape and took asylum in Patan. When Patan was captured a few weeks later, both Jaya Prakash Malla and Tej Narsingh Malla, the king of Patan took refuge in Bhaktapur, which was captured on the night of 25 November 1769. The Kathmandu valley was thus conquered by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who proclaimed himself King with Kathmandu as the royal capital of the Kingdom of Nepal.[24]

King Prithvi Narayan Shah was successful in bringing together diverse religio-ethnic groups under one rule. He was a true nationalist in his outlook and was in favor of adopting a closed-door policy with regards to the British. Not only his social and economic views guided the country's socio-economic course for a long time, his use of the imagery, 'a yam between two boulders' in Nepal's geopolitical context, formed the principal guideline of the country's foreign policy for future centuries.

Kingdom of Nepal[edit]

Gorkha rule[edit]

The old king's palace on a hill in Gorkha

After decades of rivalry between the medieval kingdoms, modern Nepal was unified in the latter half of the 18th century, when Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ruler of the small principality of Gorkha, formed a unified country from a number of independent hill high states.

After the death of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Shah dynasty began to expand their kingdom into much of the Indian subcontinent. Between 1788 and 1791, during the Sino-Nepalese War, Nepal invaded Tibet and robbed Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. Alarmed, the Qianlong Emperor of the Chinese Qing Dynasty appointed Fuk'anggan commander-in-chief of the Tibetan campaign; Fuk'anggan signed a treaty to protect his troops thus attaining a draw.[25]

Thapa and Pande dominance[edit]

After 1800, the heirs of Prithvi Narayan Shah proved unable to maintain firm political control over Nepal. A period of internal turmoil followed. The rivalry between Nepal and the British East India Company over the princely states bordering Nepal and British-India eventually led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16), in which Nepal suffered substantial losses due to lack of guns and ammunitions against the British-Indian forces with advanced weapons. The Treaty of Sugauli was signed in 1816, ceding large parts of the Nepalese controlled territories to the British. In 1860 some parts of western Terai, known as Naya Muluk (new country) was restored to Nepal.

Bhakti Thapa leading Gorkha men at Anglo-Nepalese War

The four noble families involved largely in the active politics of the kingdom were the Shah rulers, the Thapas, the Basnyats, and the Pandes before the rise of the Rana dynasty.[26] From beginning to the mid of 18th century, the Thapas and Pandes had extreme dominance over Nepalese Darbar politics alternatively contesting for central power amongst each other.[27]

Rana rule[edit]

Jung Bahadur Rana was the first ruler from this dynasty. Rana rulers were titled "Shree Teen" and "Maharaja", whereas Shah kings were "Shree Panch" and "Maharajadhiraja". Jung Bahadur codified laws and modernized the state's bureaucracy.In the coup d'état of 1846, the nephews of Jung Bahadur and Ranodip Singh murdered Ranodip Singh and the sons of Jung Bahadur, adopted the name of Jung Bahadur and took control of Nepal. Nine Rana rulers took the hereditary office of Prime Minister. All were styled (self proclaimed) Maharaja of Lamjung and Kaski.

The Rana regime, a tightly centralized autocracy, pursued a policy of isolating Nepal from external influences. This policy helped Nepal maintain its independence during the British colonial era, but it also impeded the country's economic development and modernisation. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British and assisted the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and later in both World Wars. At the same time, despite of Chinese claims, the British supported Nepalese independence at the beginning of the twentieth century.[28] In December 1923, Britain and Nepal formally signed a "treaty of perpetual peace and friendship" superseding the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 and upgrading the British resident in Kathmandu to an envoy.

Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924 under premiership of Chandra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.[29]

Following the German invasion of Poland, the Kingdom of Nepal declared war on Germany on September 4, 1939. Once Japan entered the conflict, sixteen battalions of the Nepali Army fought on the Burmese front. In addition to military support, Nepal contributed guns, equipment as well as hundreds of thousand of pounds of tea, sugar and raw materials such as timber to the Allied war effort.

Revolution of 1951[edit]

The revolution of 1951 started when dissatisfaction against the family rule of the Ranas started emerging from among the few educated people, who had studied in various South Asian schools and colleges, and also from within the Ranas, many of whom were marginalized within the ruling Rana hierarchy. Many of these Nepalese in exile had actively taken part in the Indian Independence struggle and wanted to liberate Nepal as well from the autocratic Rana occupation. The political parties such as the Praja Parishad and Nepali Congress were already formed in exile by leaders such as B. P. Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh, Subarna Sumsher Rana, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala, and many other patriotic-minded Nepalis who urged the military and popular political movement in Nepal to overthrow the autocratic Rana regime. The Nepali Congress also formed a military wing Nepali Congress's Liberation Army. Among the prominent martyrs to die for the cause, executed at the hands of the Ranas, were Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Shukraraj Shastri, Gangalal Shrestha, and Dasharath Chand who were the members of the Praja Parisad. This turmoil culminated in King Tribhuvan, a direct descendant of Prithvi Narayan Shah, fleeing from his "palace prison" in 1950, to India, touching off an armed revolt against the Rana administration. This eventually ended in the return of the Shah family to power and the appointment of a non-Rana as prime minister following a tri-partite agreement signed called 'Delhi Compromise'. A period of quasi-constitutional rule followed, during which the monarch, assisted by the leaders of fledgling political parties, governed the country. During the 1950s, efforts were made to frame a constitution for Nepal that would establish a representative form of government, based on a British model. A 10-member cabinet under Prime Minister Mohan Shumsher with 5 members of the Rana family and 5 of the Nepali Congress was formed. This government drafted a constitution called the 'Interim Government Act' which was the first constitution of Nepal. But this government failed to work in consensus as the Ranas and Congressmen were never on good terms. So, on 16 November 1951, the king formed a new government of 14 ministers under Matrika Prasad Koirala, which was later dissolved.

Royal coup by King Mahendra[edit]

The first democratic elections were held in 1959, and B. P. Koirala was elected prime minister. But declaring parliamentary democracy a failure, King Mahendra carried out a royal coup 18 months later, in 1960. He dismissed the elected Koirala government, declared that a "partyless" system would govern Nepal, and promulgated a new constitution on December 16, 1960. Subsequently, the elected prime minister, members of parliament and hundreds of democratic activists were arrested.

The new constitution established a "partyless" Panchayat system which King Mahendra considered to be a democratic form of government, closer to Nepalese traditions. As a pyramidal structure, progressing from village assemblies to the Rastriya Panchayat, the Panchayat system constitutionalized the absolute power of the monarch and kept the King as head of state with sole authority over all governmental institutions, including the cabinet (council of ministers) and the parliament. One-state-one-language became the national policy in an effort to carry out state unification, uniting various ethnic and regional groups into a singular Nepali nationalist bond. The Back to Village Campaign (Nepali: गाउँ फर्क अभियान) launched in 1967, was one of the main rural development programs of the Panchayat system.

King Mahendra was succeeded by his 27-year-old son, King Birendra, in 1972. Amid student demonstrations and anti-regime activities in 1979, King Birendra called for a national referendum to decide on the nature of Nepal's government; either the continuation of the Panchayat system along with democratic reforms or the establishment of a multiparty system. The referendum was held in May 1980, and the Panchayat system gained a narrow victory. The king carried out the promised reforms, including selection of the prime minister by the Rastriya Panchayat.

Multiparty democracy[edit]

People in rural areas had expected that their interests would be better represented after the adoption of parliamentary democracy in 1990. The Nepali Congress with the support of the United Left Front decided to launch a decisive agitational movement, the Jana Andolan, which forced the monarchy to accept constitutional reforms and to establish a multiparty parliament. In May 1991, Nepal held its first parliamentary elections in nearly 50 years. The Nepali Congress won 110 of the 205 seats and formed the first elected government in 32 years.

Civil strikes[edit]

In 1992, in a situation of economic crisis and chaos, with spiraling prices as a result of the implementation of changes in policy of the new Congress government, the radical left stepped up their political agitation. A Joint People's Agitation Committee was set up by the various groups.[30] A general strike was called for April 6. Violent incidents began to occur on the eve of the strike. The Joint People's Agitation Committee had called for a 30-minute 'lights out' in the capital, and violence erupted outside Bir Hospital when activists tried to enforce the 'lights out'. At dawn on April 6, clashes between strike activists and police, outside a police station in Pulchowk, Lalitpur, which left two activists dead. Later in the day, a mass rally of the Agitation Committee at Tundikhel in the capital Kathmandu was attacked by police forces. As a result, riots broke out and the Nepal Telecommunications building was set on fire; police opened fire at the crowd, killing several persons. The Human Rights Organisation of Nepal estimated that 14 persons, including several onlookers, had been killed in police firing.[31]

When promised land reforms failed to appear, people in some districts started to organize to enact their own land reform and to gain some power over their lives in the face of usurious landlords. However, this movement was repressed by the Nepali government, in "Operation Romeo" and "Operation Kilo Sera II", which took the lives of many of the leading activists of the struggle. As a result, many witnesses to this repression became radicalized.

Nepalese Civil War[edit]

In March 1997, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) started a bid to replace the parliamentary monarchy with a new people's democratic republic, through a Maoist revolutionary strategy known as the people's war, which led to the Nepalese Civil War. Led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (also known as "Prachanda"), the insurgency began in five districts in Nepal: Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Gorkha, and Sindhuli. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) established a provisional "people's government" at the district level in several locations.

On June 1, 2001, Prince Dipendra, went on a shooting-spree, assassinating 9 members of the royal family, including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, before shooting himself. Due to his survival, he temporarily became king before dying of his wounds, after which Prince Gyanendra (King Birendra's brother) inherited the throne, as per tradition. Meanwhile, the rebellion escalated, and in October 2002 the king temporarily deposed the government and took complete control of it. A week later he reappointed another government, but the country was still very unstable.

A family in a Maoist-controlled valley, 2005

In the face of unstable governments and a siege on the Kathmandu Valley in August 2004, popular support for the monarchy began to wane. On February 1, 2005, King Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and assumed full executive powers, declaring a state of emergency to quash the revolution. Politicians were placed under house arrest, phone and internet lines were cut, and freedom of the press was severely curtailed.

The king's new regime made little progress in his stated aim to suppress the insurgents. Municipal elections in February 2006 were described by the European Union as "a backward step for democracy", as the major parties boycotted the election and some candidates were forced to run for office by the army.[32] In April 2006 strikes and street protests in Kathmandu forced the king to reinstate the parliament.[33] A seven-party coalition resumed control of the government and stripped the king of most of his powers. On December 24, 2007, seven parties, including the former Maoist rebels and the ruling party, agreed to abolish the monarchy and declare Nepal a federal republic.[34] In the elections held on 10 April 2008, the Maoists secured a simple majority, with the prospect of forming a government to rule the proposed 'Republic of Nepal'.

Federal Democratic Republic[edit]

On May 28, 2008, the newly-elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240-year-old monarchy. The motion for the abolition of the monarchy was carried by a huge majority: out of 564 members present in the assembly, 560 voted for the motion while 4 members voted against it.[35] On June 11, 2008, the deposed King Gyanendra left the palace.[36] Ram Baran Yadav of the Nepali Congress became the first President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal on July 23, 2008. Similarly, the Constituent Assembly elected Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as the first Prime Minister of the republic on August 15, 2008, favoring him over Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress.

After failing to draft a constitution before the deadline, the existing Constituent Assembly was dissolved by the government on 28 May 2012 and a new interim government was formed under the premiership of the Chief Justice of Nepal, Khil Raj Regmi. In the Constituent Assembly election of November 2013, the Nepali Congress won the largest share of the votes but failed to get a majority. The CPN (UML) and the Nepali Congress negotiated to form a consensus government, and Sushil Koirala of the Nepali Congress was elected as prime minister. The Constitution of Nepal was finally adopted on 20 September 2015.

On 25 April 2015, a devastating earthquake of moment magnitude of 7.8Mw killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000. It was the worst natural disaster to strike the country since the 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 21. Centuries-old buildings including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu valley were destroyed. A major aftershock occurred on 12 May 2015 at 12:50 NST with a moment magnitude (Mw) of 7.3, killing more than 200 people and over 2,500 were injured by this aftershock, and many were left homeless. These events led to a major humanitarian crisis which affected the reconstruction after the earthquake.

Protests over the Constitution[edit]

Minority ethnic groups like Madhesi and Tharu protested vigorously against the constitution which came into effect on 20 September 2015.[37] They pointed out that their concerns had not been addressed and there were few explicit protections for their ethnic groups in the document. At least 56 civilians and 11 police died in clashes over the constitution.[38] In response to the Madhesi protests, India suspended vital supplies to landlocked Nepal, citing insecurity and violence in border areas.[39] The then prime minister of Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, publicly accused India for the blockade calling the act more inhumane than war.[40] India has denied enacting the blockade.[41] The blockade choked imports of not only petroleum, but also medicines and earthquake relief material.[42] The then United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, alleged that the denial of petroleum and medicine to Nepal constituted a violation of human rights, adding to the humanitarian crisis.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nepal," pp. 609-610., p. 609, at Google Books
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External links[edit]