Burial plots sought for Christians in Nepal after years of opposition

April 1, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Nepal’s interim government has set up a special commission to find burial plots for Christians in a move that could end decades of opposition from Hindus over the issue.

The Singha Durbar is the official seat of the government of NepalNepal, March 25, 2013: The 16-member commission, which includes C.B. Gahatraj, General Secretary of the Federation of National Christian Nepal, will identify possible sites in each of the country’s 75 districts by 15 July.

Christians, who comprise around 2-3% of the population, have faced great difficulties in finding burial plots for their departed loved ones. They have had to buy private land, and with space being extremely limited, up to ten bodies may be contained in a single tomb. These burial sites have frequently been desecrated and the land seized.

The problem is particularly acute in Kathmandu, where land is especially scarce and available plots are sold at a premium.

Nepal’s majority Hindu community cremate their dead and oppose the rights of Christians and others to bury theirs.

There has been a long-running dispute over forest land near Shleshmantak. Christians were granted permission to use the site, which is in the vicinity of a Hindu temple, for burials in 2009. This sparked Hindu protests across the country, and the authorities consequently revoked access.

The country’s Supreme Court overturned the ban in 2011, but the police and temple authorities continue to stop the Christians from using the land, sometimes with violence.

An interim government, headed by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi, was sworn in earlier this month in a move aimed at ending a political deadlock that has left the country without a parliament for nearly a year.

Mr Gahatraj expressed hope that this temporary administration could prove favourable for Christians. He said:

In the past, former Maoist and Communist administrations tried to use minorities for political purposes. The new government is made up of bureaucrats who do not have any political party interests.

– barnabas team

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