The bomb blast inside the Catholic Church in Dhobighat, Lalitpur, on Saturday, which left two dead and injured 14 others, carried out by a little-known Hindu fundamentalist group Nepal Defense Army (NDA) is barbarism at its extreme manifestation that calls for swift action against the perpetrators. The state should immediately, and without fail, make an example out of all those behind this gory act, something that is completely against the norms and values of a civilized society.
The blast that went off amidst a congregation of about 300 worshippers during the Saturday morning mass at the Church of the Assumption took the precious lives of Deepa Patrick, 22, and Celeste Joseph, 15, both from Patna, India. Among the 14 injured, some of them are reportedly in critical condition. We join the families of the deceased in their prayers for their loved ones and, at the same time, wish for a successful and speedy recovery of all the injured.
The NDA, which was formed by Ram Prasad Mainali of Sarlahi district, following the declaration of Nepal as a secular state by the Constituent Assembly last year, has been involved in various violent communal activities, including last July’s murder of Father John Prakash at Don Bosco School in Sirsiya, Morang. Reportedly, Mainali walks out every time after serving jail terms and paying fines. This is a national shame. Religious fundamentalism can inflict deep wounds to a society and to understand this, we need not travel further than India and Pakistan; hence such elements should be dealt with firmly and made incapable of raising their ugly heads time and again.
Nepal is a secular country and every individual, irrespective of gender, nationality and caste, has the right to follow and practice the religion of his/her choice. This is a fundamental right that cannot be encroached or trampled upon by any element or force under any pretext. It is an individual’s prerogative whether to follow Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity or Islam or to pray in a temple, church, mosque, monastery, synagogue or a gurudwara.
Until now, Nepal has been one of the finest examples of a country where different religions have coexisted peacefully and in perfect harmony for centuries, except for a few stray incidents of communal violence in the Tarai belt, particularly in Nepalgunj in the recent past. Perhaps, Kathmandu stands out as a shining example where Hinduism and Buddhism are equally revered and followed, thus displaying exemplary religious tolerance. The state should not allow any individual or group to upset this fine balance.