Nepal Hindus in Secular Protest

May 25, 2007

Author: Charles Haviland

Source: BBC News

Thousands of people in southern Nepal have been protesting against a parliamentary decision to declare Nepal a secular, rather than a Hindu kingdom.

The mainly Hindu protestors in the southern town of Birgunj have declared a general strike in their area.

Eyewitnesses in Birgunj say the town has been closed down by an alliance of local Hindu groups, with some 6,000 marching in protest.

The country has been officially a Hindu kingdom for the last 40 years.

With the symbolism associated with Hinduism, people are waving saffron-coloured flags, wielding tridents and shouting the name of the popular deity Ram.

They have also burned copies of a newspaper they accuse of favouring secularism.

Birgunj lies on the Indian border and local journalists say the protests have taken on the flavour of Hindu nationalist rallies more common in India.