05/24/2010, 00.00
NEPAL
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Hindu fundamentalists plan to restore a theocratic monarchy

by Kalpit Parajuli
Nepali Hindus organise a conference in Mumbai a few days before the deadline for the signing of the new democratic constitution on 28 May. They are afraid the country could lose its identity that was once defined by religion. Christian and Muslim minorities are concerned about such plans, insisting that under the republic they exercise greater freedom of religion.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Hindu fundamentalists are against the transformation of Nepal into a secular state. For this reason, they held a conference in Mumbai titled “Nepal Hindu State Unity Campaign” to prepare the restoration of the monarchy. Delegates from 64 countries, including the United States, Japan and Great Britain, participated in the event, which was organised by Nepalis living in India with the support of the Shiva Sena and the World Hindu Federation. In the meantime, back in Nepal, Maoists are preventing the ruling coalition government from working at a time when it is faced with a 28 May deadline to submit a new democratic constitution without which the country might once again plunge into crisis and a new Maoist insurgency.

Kamal Thapa, leader of the pro-monarchist Rastrya Parjatra Party-Nepal, told AsiaNews, “Political parties don't have right to declared Nepal as secular. Eighty per cent of Nepalese are Hindu;” for this reason, “there should be a referendum before taking such a decision.”

“In order to fight secularism, we have been trying to forge a global alliance,” he added. “If Nepal is declared a secular nation, we will lose our identity at the world level.”

Mashuriddhin Ansari, who heads the Muslim Civil Society, disagrees. “Through their actions, Hindu fundamentalists are trying to push the country towards religious chaos and violence. People of different religions will lose their religious freedom and conflict will prevail among various communities.” In his view, the state already became secular in 2006 with the fall of the monarchy, and “No one should try to go back on it”.

Nepal’s Hindu monarchy was abolished in 2007 after ten years of civil war. King Gyanendra was forced to step down after he dissolved parliament in 2005 and imposed military control.

Religious minorities welcomed the change of regime. Hindus, who want to see the king restored to his throne, reacted in a wave of protests, including attacks against mosques and churches.

At present, a coalition government is in power in Nepal, but it is under constant pressures from Maoists, who walked out of parliament last year. The latter want the current government to resign and refuse to sign the new constitution.

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