Hindu extremists target Nepali Christians again
by Kalpit Parajuli
Three attacks are carried out between 22 and 28 November. A Christian NGO, a Protestant church and a Catholic school are the targets. A Hindu terrorist group, the Nepal Defence Army, threatens more attacks against Christians and other religious minorities.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The Nepal Defence Army (NDA), a Hindu terrorist group, claimed responsibility for a spate of attacks that included a Protestant church, an NGO and a Catholic school. In a recent statement, the group attacked Christians, accusing them of forced conversions. “All Christians converting the Hindus should be expelled. Our attacks will continue until the country is restored to Hinduism,” the statement said.

No one was killed or injured in the attacks, which were carried out between 22 an 28 November. Although police launched its investigation, many activists decry the climate of impunity that has prevailed in the country for the past few years.

The terrorists targeted the seat of the Unified Mission to Nepal (UNM), the country’s largest Protestant group, St. Xavier College in Maitighar, a prestigious Catholic school, and Kathmandu’s Navajiwan Church. In the last case, security forces found the explosive device before it went off.

“It is ironic that the blast occurred on the eve of the International Day against Impunity,” said Chirendra Satyal, head of Catholic Social Communications, whose offices were bombed in 2009, killing two women and a schoolgirl.

For him, by granting amnesty to NDA leaders, the “government of Nepal is treating the lives of [all] Nepalis as expendable,” not only those who belong to minorities.

For Bijayakumar Gachhadar, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs minister, Nepal is already a secular state and the government is already doing its utmost to defend its minorities and bring to justice those who threaten their lives.

Christians and Muslims are not so sure. They accuse the government of being ineffectual. Too often, investigations lead nowhere and crimes go unpunished.

For example, Faizan Ahmad, leader of a party representing Nepal’s Muslims, was assassinated in Kathmandu on 26 September. Although Hindu extremists are thought to be behind the crime, police chose to focus its attention inside the Muslim community, claiming the murder was due to an internal feud.

In recent years, Nepal has seen a rise in attacks and murders against religious minorities, usually at the hands of Hindu extremists.

In 2008, armed men from a fringe group gunned down Fr John Prakah, a Jesuit priest. On 26 April 2008, the NDA set of a bomb inside a mosque in Birantnagar, killing two people. On 23 May 2009, the same group placed a bomb inside Kathmandu’s Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption. Two people were killed and 13 were wounded.

Beside the actions of terrorist groups, minority groups are facing proposed anti-conversion legislation from Nepal’s rightwing parties.

If anti-conversion laws were adopted, they would be included in the country’s penal code, currently under review in parliament.

The draft proposals contain provisions for the arrest and sentencing of up to five years in jail for those who advocate conversions or hand out religious materials that offend Hinduism. Butchering near holy Hindu sites can also lead to an arrest.