Sunday, July 02, 2006

Is Anyone Going To Say Sorry?

The media escapades just keep getting better. We were told, by unnamed sources in the Home Ministry, that royal adviser Sharad Chandra Shah evaded a government dragnet by minutes and flew out of the country. Days later, the top cop at the airport was recalled for this lapse.
When leading ministers of the royal regime, quizzed by an official panel probing abuses, blamed King Gyanendra and his “non-political” advisers for the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in April, Sharad-raja was uppermost on many minds. The blast from the past coupled with his more recent prominence in power was too overbearing to avoid.
During the 1990 movement, Shah was accused of mobilizing youths from the National Sports Council (NSC) to suppress the protests. Once the Panchayat edifice started crumbling, Shah’s home in Dilli Bazar was torched. For angry protesters, Shah’s seemed to be the main non-royal face that symbolized everything wrong with three decades of palace rule.
But Sharad raja had left the NSC – edged out in disgrace according to some accounts – long before the seeds of the democracy movement had been planted. During his recent stint in power, Shah was in the thick of things until the very end. His detractors evidently felt they had a better case this time. (The day Shah flew out, irate students poured their wrath on another royal adviser, Bharat Keshar Simha, and his sons after a traffic altercation.)
Sharad raja has returned home 10 days later. It turns out he flew out to attend a seminar in China and undergo medical check-up at the same hospital where Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala got his laser surgery of the prostrate. The seminar was organized by the Academy for World Watch, a Shanghai-based research institute.
Shah was the keynote speaker at a June 24 session on the impact of Maoist activities on political situation in Nepal. The following day, he chaired discussions on the impact of the unstable political situation in Nepal on neighboring countries.
To be fair, Shah’s return was duly reported by the principal English-language daily representing the “section of the media” that originally revealed his “escape”. The reporter seemed more eager to blame the anonymous Home Ministry sources for the screw-up. But doesn’t someone somewhere need to say sorry?
Now Sharad raja may be too polarizing a figure to get the apology he deserves. As someone used to the heat of the limelight, he may not even expect one. But what about the hapless top cop at the airport whose performance record has been wrongly tarnished?