News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Nepal`s Christians threaten corpse protest

Nepal`s Christian community threatened to parade its dead outside the parliament building in a row over burial grounds in Kathmandu.

Kathmandu: Nepal`s Christian community
on Friday threatened to parade its dead outside the parliament
building in a row over burial grounds in the capital,

Christians in Kathmandu used to bury their dead in a
forest next to the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, where
hundreds of Nepalese are cremated every week on the banks of
the holy Baghmati river.

But temple authorities ruled last month that Christian
burials should no longer be permitted in the forest, saying it
was sacred Hindu land.

Now, committees representing Nepal`s Christians says
those who live in the overcrowded capital have nowhere to bury
their dead, and have been forced to cremate them instead.

"We have been asking the government to provide an
alternative burial ground for Christians living in Kathmandu
for the last two years, with no success," the committee`s
general secretary C.B. Gahatraj told AFP.

"We are having a meeting with representatives of the
main political parties on Sunday. If they don`t address our
demands, we will protest in front of the Constituent Assembly
(parliament) building with the unburied corpses."

It is not known exactly how many Christians live in
majority-Hindu Nepal. Faith leaders put the number at 1.5
million, but a 2007 survey found there were around 500,000,
out of a total population of 27 million.

The first church was established by missionaries from
Darjeeling in 1952 and the number of Christians grew rapidly
after that date as the country opened up to foreign

They were subject to persecution and sometimes
imprisoned under former king Mahendra, who seized power from
the government in 1960 and imposed direct rule that lasted for
30 years.

Human rights campaigners say Nepal`s religious
minorities have continued to face discrimination even after
the country`s 2008 transformation from Hindu monarchy to
secular democracy.

"The lack of proper burial site for Christians
reflects the discrimination faced by religious minorities,"
said K.B. Rokaya, a Christian member of the National Human
Rights Commission.