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Govt bows to Christians over church wall
A missing retaining wall raises suspicions of religous biasA church overlooks a newly widened road in Nepal, which advocates say has endangered a local church
- Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu
- July 9, 2012
A road expansion project has left the church in danger of collapse, while the embankment on either side has been fortified, the advocates said.
â€śAny suspicions that we did not build a retention wall there because a church was above it are unfounded,â€ť said Deepak Shrestha, head of the road department in the area. â€śIt was just a difficult turn along the road, and we planned to do it later.â€ť
Shresthaâ€™s pledge came after a dozen people from rights groups Freedom for All and the Nepal Christian Federation travelled to the region 90 km from Kathmandu to support the Protestant church.
â€śSome locals started saying that Christians were rich enough to even build a wall of gold and the government had other things to do,â€ť said Govinda Khadga, pastor of the church.
The church bought the 25,000 square feet of land at 2.5 million rupees (US$28,000) in 2010.
Pastor Chari Gahatraj, secretary of the Christian Federation, said the group would seek compensation from the government if the building, which is still under construction, was damaged by a landslide.
Pastor Gahatraj also said Christians should improve relations with the media and government so that â€śChristians will not be treated as second-class citizens in Nepal anymore.â€ť He said police in Kathmandu have started helping Christians more and recently caught two people accused of threatening and attempting to extort pastors in the city.
Christians represent less than 1 percent of Nepalâ€™s population, which is 80 percent Hindu and 10 percent Buddhist. In 2006, with the dismantling of the monarchy, the Nepalese government pledged to become a secular state.
Christian minority wins govt backing
Christians launch new network