Christians in Nepal threaten corpse parade

Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, Jan 29 (PTI) The minority Christiancommunity in Nepal has threatened to parade its dead outsidethe parliament in the capital if the government fails toprovide them new burial grounds amid a row with the Hindus.

Hindu activists in the country have reject theChristian community�s claim for a burial site in the forestnear the world famous Pashupatinath temple.

Last month, a meeting chaired by Culture MinisterMinendra Rijal, of the governing board of Pashupati AreaDevelopment Trust (PADT) that manages the Hindu shrine,decided not to allow the Christians to bury their dead in thearea.

Representatives of Nepal''s Christians claim they donot have enough burial grounds for their dead in theovercrowded capital.

C.B. Gahatraj, General secretary of ''ChristianSuggestion Committee of Nepal'', has asked the government toallocate the land for the minority community for burying theirdead.

According to Gahatraj, the group has also submitted amemo to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal in this regard.

The group has threatened to parade its dead outsidethe Constituent Assembly building in protest if their demandswere not met by the government.

According to a 2007 survey, there were around 500,000Christians in the country of 30 million.

Narottam Vaidya, the treasurer of PADT said they areopposed to the demand of the Christians to acquire land forburying their dead in the temple area.

The government should arrange alternative land to themfor burial, he said, adding we cannot allow them to bury theirdead by breaking the age old tradition.

Located on the banks of the Bagmati river,Pashupatinath is regarded as the most sacred temple of Shiva(Pashupati) and the oldest Hindu shrine in Nepal.

The temple is also listed in UNESCO World CulturalHeritage Site list.

Hindu activist Bharat Jangam said some Christians inthe past unknowingly buried their dead in the nearbyShlesmantak forest, a part of the temple premises where a sectof Hindu saints called �Dashnami� were also burying theirdead.

How can the Christians bury their dead in the samearea designated for the Pashupatinath temple for centuries, heasked.

He said there was limited land in the area and if theChristians are allowed to bury their dead then the entiretemple area will be covered with bodies in not too distantfuture.

Jangam claimed the government has allocated separate aplace near Kapan some 3-4 km northeast of the area for as theburial site for the Christian community.

Nepal, the only official Hindu state, was convertedinto a secular state soon after the the country''s Hindumonarch was forced to give up absolute power in 2006. TheMaoists-dominated Constituent Assembly abolished Nepal''scenturies-old monarchy in May 2008.

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