03/16/2011, 00.00
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Kathmandu, high risk of attacks against Christians

by Kalpit Parajuli
The government under the Maoists blackmail has not yet appointed a new interior minister. Police warn of increased activity of Hindu extremist groups, but has no money to continue operations. Christians are afraid to go to church and prefer to pray in their homes.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Political turmoil is crippling the Nepalese security system and endangering the lives of Christians and other religious minorities. The government has not yet appointed a minister of the interior and for months the police have no funds for operations and is without a security program.

Narayan Sharma, bishop of the Protestant Church claims that "there is no security in the country and our pastors are subject to continuous threats and violence. Many believers do not want to come to church for fear of assaults and attacks and remain locked in their house. "

Fr. Robin Rai of the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu is more cautious. The priest admits a security issue, but stresses that so far there is no climate of fear among Catholics. However, Fr. Rai says that if the situation is not resolved, people will start to get scared and pray at home rather than in church. "The government - he said - knows the risks faced by Catholics and our safety is their responsibility."

Recently the police foiled a series of attacks by the Nepal Defence Army (NDA), an extremist Hindu group, against Christian churches and public buildings. The mastermind was Ram Prasad Mainali former leader of the NDA, arrested in 2009 and responsible for several attacks, including one against the Cathedral of the Assumption of Lalitpur (Kathmandu). From prison he managed the entire criminal network and extorted money from businessmen and Christian politicians with the threat of bloody attacks against churches and public buildings. To date the investigations are at a standstill and according to local sources there are other group members who are preparing for future attacks.

Kush Kumar Joshi, an hindu manager says: "I'm afraid to attend the crowded celebrations. Every time I go out I do not know if I will return home alive. " Joshi points out that this situation is killing the Nepalese economy. "We business people suffer constant threats and we can not work, the government should protect us"

To date, the office of the Minister of the Interior is covered by the new Prime Minister Khanal, leader of the Communist Party of Nepal, who has taken on the Ministerial post so as not to give in to the Maoists. Khanal was elected last February 4 thanks to the support of the party of former rebels, who for eight months boycotted the appointment of a Premier. But as the price for their support, the Maoists want the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministry, leaving police with no funding or management.

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