Kathmandu, Nepal - The government of Nepal is set to allow Christians, Muslims and Baha'is of the capital to bury their dead in the forest of Sleshmantak close to the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. The decision has sparked protests by Hindu fundamentalists, who consider the forest part of the sacred temple.
Hindus cremate their dead and do not build cemeteries. In recent years, Kathmandu has been subjected to a heavy real estate speculation. This has limited the availability of free land and reduced the areas that were once intended for cemeteries for Christians, Muslims and Baha'is, most often forced to bury many bodies in the same grave.
Narayan Sharma, Protestant Bishop of Nepal, says: "We are not at fault. We acted according to the government's decision. The Hindus must be aware of the rights of other religions." According to the Christian Federation of Nepal there are already 200 tombstones in the Sleshmantak area. Christians have paid 6 to 10 euro for each grave.
Despite protests from the Hindus, Minendra Rijal, Minister for Culture, said that after centuries of Hindu monarchy "the country is now secular and all Hindus should also take into account the needs of other religions."