Christian politicians ask Nepalese Prime Minister Khanal for land to bury the dead

Kathmandu, Nepal - Christian politicians are asking the new Nepalese Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal to perseonally intervene in the ongoing conflict over the cemetery near the Hindu temple of Pashupati (see photo) and are threatening not to support the government in case of a refusal.

This morning, some 180 representatives of the Christian communities of 63 districts gathered in Kathmandu to write a memorandum to be delivered to the prime minister, national and international human rights groups.

“If they do not give us land to bury our dead we will demand Khanal’s resignation," says CB Gahatraj, Secretary General of the Christian Advising Committee for the New Costitution (Cacnc). "We are Nepalese – he continues - and the government can not intervene in our tradition with laws that favour only the Hindus."

In recent years, real-estate speculation has reduced burial areas in Kathmandu and the cost of vacant land is so high that none of the Christian community can afford to buy. Forced to use one grave to bury more bodies, native Christians, Muslims and Baha'is have asked the central government to grant low-cost areas for use as a cemetery.

In contrast with the local authorities and the Hindu community, the government granted a space in the forest adjacent to the Hindu temple of Pashupati, a place sacred to Hinduism and UNESCO world heritage site. This has triggered protests by Hindus and forced the local government to ban the use of the area. Recently, the ban was lifted, but so far the police and temple authorities have prevented, at times even violently, any burials that would damage the site.