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King Birendra’s statue in Pokhara was installed with locals’ consent

King Birendra’s statue in Pokhara was installed with locals’ consent

A week ago, some local residents in Pokhara placed a statue of late king Birendra Saha at Rambazaar Birendra Chowk, a central junction for Pokhara wards 10, 14, and 15. The statue was installed at midnight to avoid potential repercussions from authorities. 

While the act comes in defiance of previous removals of kings' statues across Pokhara following the monarchy's abolition in Nepal, the group that mounted the statue say that they did it with the consent of the local residents.

The news about the statue installation spread rapidly, drawing the attention of the District Administration Office, Kaski, and local government offices. However, the officials who reached the scene to see the statue did not give a clear answer whether they will remove it or let it be.

 "We have not decided yet on what to do," said  Moti Raj Timilsina, the spokesperson for Pokhara Metropolitan Office. The office will consider taking action if it is deemed contrary to the values of local governance.

The decision to place the king's statue traces back several years, with formal approval from the previous local government. It must be one of the reasons as to why the current local government is silent about the matter.

Man Bir Gurung, a 90-year-old local resident who led the group that placed the statue of king Birendra, said they had obtained a formal approval from the ward offices and the consent of local residents and political parties to commemorate the late king.

“We wanted to keep the memories of the former king in our hearts and minds,” he said.  

Earlier, the same spot used to have a bust of king Birendra, but it was destroyed by the Maoist supporters during the people’s movement of 2006, which culminated with the abolition of centuries old monarchy in Nepal.

Ganesh Poudel Chhetri, chairman of group, said despite facing challenges  due to political changes, they were determined to keep the memory of late king alive by erecting his statue. 

“We had the consent of local residents and a letter of approval from the ward offices as well,” he added.

The group consists of almost 100 locals from diverse political affiliations and civil society. Two years ago, Pokhara ward 10 office had  recommended placing the statue, considering the overwhelming local interest and consensus. 

Sammar Bahadur Shrestha, a former ward representative from Nepali Congress, affirmed the decision.

“Considering the locals’ support, we had decided to allow the group to install the statue,” he said.