Nepali lawmakers released after arrests in cemetery row

Kathmandu, Nepal - Nepali police on Monday released demonstrators, including two lawmakers, who were detained earlier in the day for staging protests in a row over a burial ground deemed sacred to Hindus.

The cemetery at the Pashupatinath temple has been mired in controversy after the temple authorities last month barred Christians from burying their dead in the Sleshmantak forest, saying it was reserved for the Dasnami Hindu sect.

Over the weekend, the authorities also banned the indigenous Kirat community from the cemetery, arguing they were not Dasnamis.

But Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said late Monday that the Kirat community would be allowed to bury their dead in the forest until a new provision had been put in place.

At least a dozen people had been injured in clashes earlier Monday between ethnic Kirats and police in Kathmandu, and 15 people had been arrested.

Kirats were traditionally animists and still bury their dead, despite having had to adopt Hinduism in the 18th century.