Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal's new government
has set up a special commission to establish a cemetery for the country's Christian
and Kirati minorities. This comes after the new cabinet of Prime Minister Khil
Raj Regmi, the current Chief Justice, was sworn in to replace the government of
Maoist leader Baburan Bhattarai
For decades, Christians and tribal Kiratis have
been embroiled in controversy over burial grounds. As majority Hindus cremate
their dead, they fail to understand the needs of those who bury their dead and
oppose their demands.
Until recently, Christians and Kirati had to
buy land with their own money to bury their dead. However, their tombs were
frequently desecrated and burial plots seized. In many places, land is so scarce
that a single tomb might contain up to ten bodies.
Now a 16-member commission led by Binod Pahadi,
a former member of the constituent assembly, will look into the matter. C.B.
Gahatraj, general secretary of Federation of National Christian Nepal (FNCN), is
one of its members.
Over the next four months, the commission will
scout for possible sites in each of the country's 75 districts and have them
identified by 15 July.
"We are more hopeful this time. In the past,
former Maoist and Communist administrations tried to use minorities for
political purposes," Gahatraj said. "The new government is made up of bureaucrats
who do not have any political party interests."
Space is especially scarce in Kathmandu because
of speculation. The amount of accessible land is at a premium. Areas reserved
for Christians and other minorities have consequently shrunk.
In 2009, Christians were granted access to a
forest near Shleshmantak, not far from the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath as a
way around the problem. However, this sparked Hindu protests across the
country. In the end, the authorities were forced to backtrack and ban its use for
A ruling by Nepal's Supreme Court lifted the
ban in 2011, but police and temple authorities still refuse to allow Christians
to bury their dead in the forest, occasionally resorting to violence to do so.
Since February 2011, Christians, Muslims and
Kiratis have staged regular protests against the repressive attitude of local
authorities. The latter appear less interested in solving the problem than in
putting it off. None of the agreements they have signed over the years has ever