Kathmandu, June 6 (IANS) — The Dharma Jagaran Manch, an umbrella organisation of various Hindu outfits, called a two-day shutdown in Bara and Parsa districts, the industrial hub of Nepal, to protest parliament’s decision last month to declare Nepal a secular state.
Educational institutions, shops, markets and offices remained closed with public transport disappearing from roads on the first day of the shutdown. Though there was no untoward incident, tension gripped the two districts that had last month seen a bout of vandalism by mobs during protests called by Hindu groups.
Birgunj town in Parsa district, an important commercial centre due to the presence of a dry port and its proximity to the Indian border, has also been the hub of activities by Hindu groups in the past.
The World Hindu Federation, (WHF) a controversial organisation pledging support to King Gyanendra, held two of its anniversary celebrations in Birgunj with the king as the chief guest.
The WHF and Shiv Sena Nepal have been among the most vocal Hindu outfits expressing their displeasure at Nepal’s transformation into a secular country.
Bharat Keshar Simha, president of WHF and one of the advisers of King Gyanendra, was reported to have sent envoys to Hindu groups in India, with whom it has strong links, for support.
Simha, a retired army general, sent emissaries to Rajnath Singh, chief of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and Ashok Singhal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Nepali weekly Ghatana Ra Bichar reported.
However, Nepal’s new government has pledged to control any vandalism or sectarian violence.
According to Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, royalist forces could be behind the disruptions with the aim of creating anarchy. The government would not allow law and order to be disturbed, Sitaula had said last month when the disruptions first erupted.
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