01/29/2008, 00.00
NEPAL
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Hindus from India and Nepal demonstrate in favour of the restoration of Nepal’s religious monarchy

by Kalpit Parajuli
Thousands of ascetics protest peacefully on the border between the two countries, blocking roads for a day, chanting hymns and slogans. Extremists now threaten more actions if the government does not restore the Hindu king and monarchy.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Thousands of Hindu Sadhu (ascetics) from India and Nepal yesterday converged on Birganj, a Nepali town on the border with India, some 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Kathmandu, to protest in favour of the restoration of Nepal’s Hindu monarchy. Demonstrators blocked all the roads leading into the area, carrying out a two-kilometre long sit-in on the main road running from Birganj to Raxaul in India.

They chanted slogans in favour of Nepal’s king and the Hindu monarchy. They prayed, offering grain to propitiate their demands. They cooked on the road and then chanted Hindu hymns, playing musical instruments.

Divided in several groups, dressed in yellow and white with a yellow tika (religious symbol) painted on the forehead, they danced wielding stick and carrying pots.

The demonstration was organised by fundamentalist groups in India linked to the World Hindu Federation and Nepali Hindus like the Nepal Janasangh Party.

Demonstrators arrived from various part of India—many from Maharastra—as well as Nepal.

Indian fundamentalist leader Swami Gurunath and his followers also came. “We will continue our support for Nepali Hindus in their effort to restore the Hindu kingdom in Nepal,” he said. “We are ready to help them in any way possible.”

For his part Nepali Hindu leader Swami Prapannacharya threatened the government, stating that “if it does not listen to our voice, we shall intensify our demonstrations and strikes across the country. The whole nation shall come to a halt.”

Birganj is a key transit point for car traffic and trade between India and Nepal. On average of more than 400 lorries cross the border carrying goods of all sorts.

The demonstration successfully prevented any movement between the two countries.

Initially police sought to disperse demonstrators to re-open the road, but desisted because the government had banned the use of force.

“We are going to wait and see whether the government will withdraw its decision. If a few political parties try to break our religious tradition and culture without public consent, we will be obliged to save our nation and nationality even with foreign support. This joint demonstration may just be the starting point,” said Bharat Keshari Singh, representative of the World Hindu Federation in Nepal and adviser to the Nepali king.

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