Hindu groups announce 'guerrilla war' in Nepal

Kathmandu, India - A new alliance of Hindu groups Monday warned it would unleash a 'guerrilla war' in seven days to press its demand for reinstating a Hindu state in Nepal.

The warning comes less than a fortnight after unknown perpetrators set off serial blasts that rocked Kathmandu, killing three people and injuring over two dozen.

The Nepal Armed Hindu Morcha, a new alliance of pro-Hindu groups, said it would start an 'underground holy people's war' on Sep 18.

In 1996, the Maoist guerrillas had begun their 'people's war' - that claimed over 13,000 lives - in a bid to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy, abolish Hinduism as the state religion and establish a communist republic.

In a reverse echo of the Maoist insurgency, the Morcha said its fight was intended to reinstate a Hindu state in Nepal.

Nepal was the world's only Hindu kingdom till last year when an effort by King Gyanendra to seize absolute power failed, resulting in an uprising. The revolt ended the king's 15-month direct rule and made parliament proclaim Nepal a secular country.

Hindu groups in Nepal, however, refuse to accept the change and have been urging for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion.

At least 19 out of the nearly five dozen parties that are contesting the November election would be campaigning for a Hindu state.

The date chosen by the Morcha for its upcoming stir - Sep 18 - is also the date selected by the Maoists to start general strikes.

The Maoists have asked the government to abolish monarchy by mid-September without waiting for the election. They have warned that otherwise they would quit the eight-party ruling alliance and start a fresh revolt that would be peaceful but strong.

No immediate information was available about the Hindu warriors.

In the past, a pro-Hindu group, calling itself the Nepal Defence Army, had said it was training Hindu suicide bombers.

However, a Hindu party that is taking part in the polls said the Morcha was a non-starter.

'If there is any armed Hindu movement, we would be the first to know,' said Arun Subedi, president of Shiv Sena Nepal.

'The police recently arrested a couple of Nepal Defence Army leaders and the group has begun fleeing Nepal since then.'