Rorate Caeli

Killing of Catholics in Nepal

From The Times of India comes news of the bombing of a Catholic church - the Church of the Assumption -- in Kathmandu, Nepal yesterday, May 23, 2009. Two were killed, including a 15-year-old schoolgirl, and 14 injured -- mostly teenagers --when a bomb exploded towards the end of morning Mass in the church. The bombing was apparently the work of the Nepal Defence Army, a rebel group dedicated to re-establishing the "divine" Nepalese monarchy that was abolished last year, and intent on rededicating Nepal as a Hindu state.


The NDA has been blamed for a series of bombings and other attacks on the Christian and Muslim minorities in Nepal, apparently culminating in the murder -- widely attributed to the Hindu-inspired terrorist group -- of Fr. Johnson Prakash SDB last July 1, 2008. The Indian Salesian was hailed as Nepal's first priest-martyr. After Fr. Prakash's murder, the NDA committed acts of intimidation against as many as 70 Catholic educational institutions and social programs.

The situation of the tiny Catholic minority in Nepal (7,500 souls as of last year in a nation of 27 million) has always been precarious, although it has been improving in the past two decades. Prior to 1991 religious conversions to Christianity were forbidden and penalized; until 2008 the state was officially Hindu, ruled by a king who was regarded as the reincarnation of the god Vishnu. At present public worship is allowed and in 2007, Nepal gained its first Catholic bishop -- the Vicar Apostolic Anthony Sharma SJ, himself a convert from Hinduism.

Although Parliament abolished the national Nepalese monarchy in May 2008 -- and with it the country's designation as a Hindu state -- and instituted a republic that became Communist-led, the country remains devoutly Hindu and there are signs the majority of the (Hindu) populace had wanted the institution of the monarchy itself to remain, despite the unpopularity of the last king, Gyanendra.

In contrast the Christian minority had been vocal in its support for a purely secular state, with representatives of the Catholic Church vocally declaring their faith in the Maoist government last year. The Maoist government, in turn, promised to respect religious freedom; so far the government has apparently not taken steps to break this promise.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Carlos for posting this item. The West, now seemingly dependent on India for low cost services and personnel, chooses not to take notice of Hindu fundamentalism. The city of Bangalore,known for its IT units and Call-centers catering to the West is the new capital of Hindu fundamentalism. His Grace Archbishop Bernard Moras has already had a taste of their activities. Contact him at:

bgarchdi@bgl.vsnl.net.in

To be surprised as to who funds these people, check out:

http://www.sabrang.com/hnfund/sacw/part1.html

Anonymous said...

In contrast the Christian minority had been vocal in its support for a purely secular state, with representatives of the Catholic Church vocally declaring their faith in the Maoist government last year........

Take this with a pinch of salt. Subtle (and not so subtle) dis-information is not unknown in the sub-continent. For an accurate picture, including media bias, contact:

The Indian Bishops Justice & Peace Commission Secretary:FR NITHIYA
nithiyas@gmail.com

or Rights Activist FR CEDRIC PRAKASH sj
sjprashant@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

"RACISTS!" – WHO?

*Fr. Cedric Prakash, sj

The cry could not have been shriller! “You are racist!” was the message loud and clear, as thousands of Indians (mainly students) gathered in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday, 31st May, to protest the wave of attacks on Indian students in various parts of Australia. The protest was legitimate. The growing feeling of insecurity was palpable and the genuine desire to live in a peaceful and integrated manner, in a multi-cultural society, can be denied by none.

At home, the media is definitely up in arms repeatedly highlighting the plight of Indian students in Australia. There are heart rending visuals of those brutally bashed up. The media are on the offensive and for good measure, yet another reality is made very emotive.

Xenophobia, racism, segregation, apartheid, discrimination, in any form is non acceptable. Civil society, all over the world needs to take a bold stand on this malaise and to nip it in the bud whenever its ugly head rears itself. A case in point, is the way Raj Thackeray and his MNS have decided that those from UP and Bihar do not “belong” to Bombay.

In Gujarat, the lines of division are even more pronounced where the Muslims are concerned. In several parts of the State, there are huge billboards erected which loudly proclaim a “Hindu Rashtra”. In several cities and villages, across the State, Muslims have been confined to ghettoes or have to live in the peripheral areas. Juhapura, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad is home to over four hundred thousand Muslims, which makes it one of the biggest Muslim ghettoes in the country. Inspite of the people’s demands, there are hardly any public facilities and utilities for the citizens there. Muslims in Gujarat are still treated as second class citizens with little or no access to quality education and employment opportunities.

Christians too in many parts of Gujarat are subject to the same fate. However, in the latter case, the intimidations and harassments are in more subtle forms. Dalits in Gujarat still continue to live in a very marginalized situation. It is an open secret that the practice of untouchability has become an accepted norm in several sections of society today.

What is happening in Australia has to be condemned in no uncertain terms! However, what we desperately need at this juncture are louder voices and shriller protests at home to set our own house in order. We have to protest when our rights are trampled upon when we are abroad; however we have a greater responsibility to protest when our own fellow-citizens are denied the rights and freedom which are legitimately theirs!

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is the Director of “Prashant”, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

sjprashant@gmail.com

PRASHANT (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Street Address : Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052, Gujarat, India
Postal Address : P B 4050, Navrangpura PO, Ahmedabad - 380 009, Gujarat, India