Hindu nationalists disturb constitutional draft meeting

Protesters demand Nepal be turned back into Hindu nation as country prepares draft for new constitution

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Protesters who demand that Nepal to be a Hindu nation once again clashed with the police and threw chairs to the country's Deputy Prime Minister on Monday, showing the growing tension over a much-anticipated new constitution.

The latest violence occurred when Hindu nationalist and pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal supporters forced their way into  the national stadium where Deputy Prime Minister Prakash Man Singh was meeting with people to collect suggestions.

The protesters threw chairs at him, chanting slogans and clashed with police as Singh was addressing the crowd,  Associated Press (AP) reported. The police cleared the protesters out of the stadium.

"Nepal is a Hindu state and will remain a Hindu state. Almost all Nepalese are Hindus and we will continue to protest until the country is declared a Hindu state once again," Madhav Bhattarai, a protester, told AP. He also claimed the country was called a secular state only “because of foreign influence.”

The Himalayan country hopes to draft a new constitution that will give more rights to minorities and women, but the tension has been high as Hindu nationalists demand the new document should turn Nepal back to a Hindu nation.

Nepalese lawmakers has been meeting with people in the country's 240 constituencies for public suggestions recently, and there have been many protests, sometimes violent.

Protesters from the Federal Socialist Forum pelted stones at the vehicle of Former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal in Gaur, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported, shouting slogans and burning copies of the draft constitution.

In Janakpur, a historic town in southeastern Nepal, the Madhesi People’s Right Struggle Committee members clashed with police during a draft constitution meeting on Monday. At least 40 protesters were injured.

Unidentified people threw a petrol bomb at Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat's car in the capital Kathmandu's Nuwakot district.

“Women, Madhesis, journalists, everyone has objected to the draft. So how can we accept this?,” Chandra Bahadur Gurung, a leader of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal told reporters.

Nepal Police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam told AA that protesters tried to disrupt the consultations in 15 districts across the country and the police had to use force in Janakpur and Gaur, firing tear gas and baton-charging the crowd.

Nepal, which is governed by an interim constitution for the last seven years, has been pushing through the new constitution after two devastating earthquakes that killed more than 9,000 people in April.

The country was declared a secular state after the monarchy that promoted Hinduism was overthrown in 2008, during that time period, the kings were believed to be reincarnated versions of Hindu god Vishnu.

Dividing the country’s federal states and the rights for women and minorities seem to be a sticky issues for the new document.

TRTWorld and agencies