By Chirendra Satyal
A hunger strike in Kathmandu by Christians to force the government into giving them burial plots entered its sixth day today, with the government yet to respond to their demands.
Dozens of Christian men and women are continuing to go without food or water on a relay basis and are praying and singing hymns around a symbolic red coffin in a tent in central Kathmandu.
At a rally yesterday, protest leaders vowed to continue the hunger strike until their demands are met.
“Not a single political party or civil group has made any public statement on our behalf. We remain peaceful in prayer despite people ignoring our presence. But if nothing is done very soon, we will bring our dead bodies and bury them in Tundikhel [a grassy parade ground in central Kathmandu],” said Pastor Chari Bahadur Gahatraj, secretary of the Christian advisory group that organized the protest.
“We believe Nepal’s 2 million Christians are with us. We believe the 400,000 Christians around Kathmandu are with us,” he said.
“How would Prime Minitser Jhalanath Khanal feel if his father died and we told him he could not cremate him but to throw the body in the Trisuli River?” Gahatraj said.
Several rights activists also spoke out in support of the Christians yesterday, including former politicians Daman Nath Dhungana and Padma Ratna Tuladher.
“I think it is the Lord’s wish that you suffer like this for a just cause, so the foundation in obtaining rights for yourselves and others will be strong. I believe you will succeed in your just demands if you do not give up,” Dhungana told the protesters.
Pastor Sunder Thapa, president of the Christian Advisory Committee for the New Constitution, said that the protest would grow and spread through the streets if nothing was done after a week of fasting.