Allot Land For Burial, Or We’ll Parade Cops Near Parliament, Say Nepal Christians
KATHMANDU (SAR NEWS) – Christians in Hindu Nepal, who have been denied a place for burying their dead, have threatened to parade corpses outside Parliament in Kathmandu.
The minority community has been demanding a new burial ground near the world famous Pashupatinath temple, but Hindu activists have rejected its claim.
A meeting of the governing body of Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) held in December 2010 and headed by Culture Minister Minendra Rija decided not to allow the Christians to bury their dead in the area. (PADT manages the Pashupatinath Hindu shrine). But Christian leaders say there are not enough burial grounds for their dead in the overcrowded Kathmandu.
General secretary of Christian Suggestion Committee of Nepal, C.B. Gahatraj, has urged the government to allot land for the minority community to bury their dead. The group has also submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal in this regard.
PADT treasurer Narottam Vaidya said the Trust was opposed to the demand of the Christians to acquire land for burying their dead in the temple area. “The government should arrange alternative land to them for burial. We cannot allow them to bury their dead by breaking the age-old tradition,” he said.
Located on the banks of Bagmati, Pashupatinath is regarded as the most sacred and the oldest Hindu shrine in Nepal. It also figures in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list.
Hindu activist Bharat Jangam said some Christians in the past unknowingly buried their dead in the nearby Shlesmantak forest, a part of the temple premises where a sect of Hindu saints called Dashnami were also burying their dead.
“How can the Christians bury their dead in the same area designated for the Pashupatinath temple for centuries,” he asked. He said there was limited land in the area and if the Christians were allowed to bury their dead, then the entire temple area will be soon covered with bodies.”
He also pointed out that the government had allocated a separate place near Kapan, some 3-4 km northeast of the area, as burial site for the Christians.
Nepal, the only official Hindu state, was converted into a secular state soon after the country’s Hindu monarch was forced to give up absolute power in 2006. The Maoists-dominated Constituent Assembly abolished Nepal’s centuries-old monarchy in May 2008.
According to a 2007 survey, there are around 500,000 Christians in the country of 30 million.