Nepali Hindus and Christians: false allegations of forced conversions to Christianity

Kathmandu, Nepal - Nepal's Hindus and Christians are protesting against the complaint made by Kamal Thapa, head of the monarchist Rastriya Pratajatantra Party, according to which there have been a million forced conversion from Hinduism to Christianity, since the end of the monarchy. For religious leaders, these accusations are false and damaging to relations between the two faiths.

Thapa denounced forced conversions last January 29 on the sidelines of a conference organized by the Muslim community in Bhaktapur. According to mainstream Nepalese media these statements serve to create divisions among the Christian and Muslim minorities, who recently joined forces in the protests against the ban on burials in the Hindu temple of Pashupati (Kathmandu).

Keshav Chaulagain, head of the World Hindu Foundation, has dissociated the group from Thapa’s accusations. "We know that many Hindus practice Christianity - he says - but none of them has undergone forced conversions." Chaulagain emphasizes that Christians help people from all walks of life and religion. "It 's this - he adds - that leads people to covert."

Bishop Anthony Sharma, Catholic Archbishop of Kathmandu states that "Christians help those in need, but do not ask anyone to convert." People - adds the prelate - are converted by divine grace. Baptism comes only when there is a real interest and only after two years of catechism. "

The collapse of the Hindu monarchy in 2006 and the emergence of a secular state, have reduced the power and the number of fundamentalists. According to KB Rokaya, an activist for human rights, the monarchist party has little support and the restoration of the monarchy is in fact impossible, so the Hindu extremists incite the population against Christians and other religious minorities.

Narayan Sharma, bishop of the Protestant community of Nepal, notes that political parties are exploiting religion to rally support. "There are conversions – he adds - but they are not forced. If Hindu extremists show the contrary we are prepared to do what they want, but we can not deny people who want to pray with us. "

In Nepal there are about 150 thousand Christians, of whom about 8 thousand are Catholics. Despite discrimination on the part of Hindus, conversions are increasing. According to estimates by the Catholic community in Kathmandu each Sunday about 200 non-Catholics attend Mass in the cathedral.