03/18/2011, 00.00
NEPAL
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The President of Nepal ready to defend Christians from attacks and violence

by Kalpit Parajuli
In a meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr. Pennacchio, the President assures prompt action to prevent attacks against Christian communities. Secretary of the Council of Ministers: "In a secular state respect for religious freedom should prevail."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The debate on the risk of attacks and violence against religious minorities continues in Nepal. The lack of security especially concerns Catholics and Protestants, previously a target for attacks by Hindu extremists. Yesterday, during the presentation of credentials of ambassadors, the President of Nepal said he was ready to defend minorities against possible attacks and violence by radical groups. The meeting was also attended by Msgr. Pennacchio who recently expressed his concern about the rights of Christians in Nepal.

Rajendra Dahal, spokesperson of the President Ram Baran Yadav, admits that in recent months there has been an increase in the activities of Hindu extremist groups. However, he ensures that "the President is attentive to the rights of Catholics and Christians, and has given special directives to the security forces to protect the community from possible attacks."

Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Secretary of the Council of Ministers, also spoke of the need to protect minority rights. He stressed that security is a right for all citizens. "Christians and Catholics - he says - must be respected as well as other religious minorities. In a secular state respect for religious freedom should prevail. "

The internal conflict between the government and Maoist communists has so far delayed the appointment of a Minister of the Interior and the police have been left without funds for investigations and operations against criminal and terrorist groups.

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.

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