No homeland for Hindus in the world

via Agencies published on May 29, 2006

KATHMANDU: Thousands of Nepalis protested in a southern business town yesterday against a plan to turn Nepal into a secular state. More than 5,000 people burned tyres and logs, and blocked roads in Birgunj, about 150km south of Kathmandu, resident Shiva Patel said. They were protesting over a plan approved by parliament last week to turn Nepal, the world’s only Hindu kingdom, into a secular state. Shouting “Jay Shree Ram!” (Lord Ram is great!), demonstrators obliged shops to pull down shutters and forced vehicles off the streets, local journalist Govind Devkota said from the town on the Indian border.


“They are demanding that Nepal be declared a Hindu nation,” Devkota said. “It’s peaceful so far, but could turn violent.” About 80% of Nepal’s 26mn people are Hindus and 11% Buddhists. In April, King Gyanendra bowed to weeks of pro-democracy protests and handed power to a multi-party government after almost 15 months of absolute rule that drew worldwide condemnation. He also reinstated the parliament disbanded in 2002. The parliament quickly moved to curb the king’s powers, took control of the army and declared Nepal a secular nation.


Meanwhile, Nepal’s new government headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has formed a team to open negotiations with Maoists, three weeks after announcing a ceasefire and asking the guerrillas to come for talks. Headed by Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, the three-member team also includes Pradip Gyawali, minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation, and Ramesh Lekhak, minister of state for labour and transport management. Gyawali and Lekhak are among the 11 new ministers who were appointed on Monday.

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