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Christians split on burial protest issue

Hunger strike goes on but some priests advise cremation would be more 'practical'

A woman prays among hunger strikers on their 13th day of fast A woman prays among hunger strikers on their 13th day of fast
  • ucanews.com reporter, Kathmandu
  • Nepal
  • April 4, 2011
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As Christians in central Kathmandu demanding burial land entered their 13th day of a hunger strike and issued an “ultimatum” to the government, some religious leaders suggested the group should drop the issue.

The protesters want to be able to bury their dead and seek to force the government to give them burial plots.

But a Catholic priest, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ucanews.com: “Why make it a issue in a small country where so many poor people do not even have a piece of land to live on.” Other Christians in the capital also expressed the opinion that the protesters should opt for cremation instead of insisting on burial rights.

A Protestant leader, Doctor Ramesh Khatry, who published an article in a Katmandu newspaper calling on Christians to opt for cremation, commented: “I am not going to be liked by some Christian pastors for writing this, pray for me.”

In the piece in Republica on April 3, Khatry praised Catholics for their practically “simple and sane” option to cremate, rather than bury.

But Pastor Sunder Thapa, president of the Christian Advisory Committee for Nepal’s new constitution, said the protest would continue.

“We have made preparations to take corpses and sit in front of the Constitutional Assembly building,” he said. “We have served our ultimatum to the government that if nothing is done within two days – on our 16th day – we will knock at their most powerful gate, but peacefully and without denouncing or speaking against any group or individual.”

Some three dozen fasting Christian men and women wearing flower garlands continue to sing hymns, and pray seated under a tent in Shanti Batika (Peace Garden) in central Kathmandu near the clock tower.

NP13840.1648

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