Secular forces in Gujarat, Bangalore and Thane speak against persecution

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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GUCFHR special prayers in all Christian churches of Gujarat for peace in Iraq & the Middle East

Iraqi Christians at prayerAt a meeting of the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR) held at Bishop’s House, Mirzapur held, Bishops, Church Elders and representatives of the Christian Community in Gujarat decided that:“Special prayers for peace in Iraq & the Middle East will be held in all Churches all over Gujarat on Saturday, 16th & Sunday 17th August 2014”.

The GUCFHR unequivocally condemned the attacks on the Palestinians  in Gaza and also the brutal killings and attacks by the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) on Christians and other minorities in Iraq.  Further, the GUCHFR re-echoed the words and appeals from the World Council of Churches, the Vatican and of His Holiness Pope Francis that, ‘You cannot make war in the name of God’, and have urged the perpetrators to shun these inhuman acts of violence immediately.

The GUCFHR have also called upon all world leaders and all men & women of goodwill to do all they can to ensure lasting peace in these zones of conflict. Finally, the GUCFHR expressed  sympathy, solidarity and support to all victims of these violent conflicts. A circular will  be read out at all services in all Churches of Gujarat on August 16th & 17th.2014.

Archbishop S. Fernandes sj (Catholic Archdiocese of Gandhinagar)
Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulios (Syrian Orthodox Church)
Bishop Silvans Christian (CNI Diocese of Gujarat)
Bishop Thomas Macwan (Catholic Diocese of Ahmedabad)
The Church of North India (Gujarat Diocese)
Catholic Archdiocese of Gandhinagar
Catholic Diocese of Ahmedabad
Catholic Diocese of Baroda
Catholic Diocese of Rajkot
The Gujarat Regional Conference of the Methodist Church in India
Salvation Army Indian (Western)
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Mar Thoma Syrian Church
Seventh Day Adventist Church (Gujarat Conference)
Syrian Orthodox Church
Christian Missionary Alliance of India (Gujarat Synod)
and many more…

Secular forces in Bangalore speak against persecution

BangaloreThe Indian Social Institute in collaboration with Karnataka Komu Souhardika Vedike (KKSV) – Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum – and other individuals, civil society organizations, faith based organizations etc is organising a public demonstration on 17th August (Sunday), 2014 at Town Hall, Bangalore from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm.

The KKSV is holding its consultative meeting in ISI on 16th and 17th August, 2014. Girish Karnad, Ram Punyani, Irfan Engineer, Teesta Setalwad, Anand Teltumbde etc are expected to be present. On 17th evening a public demonstration is being organized at Town Hall highlighting our solidarity for the following issues:
1)      The Victims of War in Gaza;
2)      The Victims of Communal Violence in Kandhamal;
3)      The Victims of Violence against Women;
4)      Demand for Greater Democratic Space.

We can all gather under the banner of KKSV and / or others can bring their own banner and or placards. Let us be present and also mobilize lots of youth who are willing to be part of these efforts and express their solidarity.

- Prakash Louis

Kandhamal Day in Thane, Maharashtra

Anti-Christian Violence in Kandhamal25th August marks the sixth year of the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008. Six years after the violence, the perpetrators are still at large, and justice and peace for most of the survivors remain illusive. Justice and Peace Commission (Mumbai), Sanjeevan Kendra (Thane) and Archdiocesan Women’s Commission are organizing a public meeting to observe Kandhamal Day – by way of extending solidarity to the victims and survivors, and their brave struggle for justice and citizenship rights. The meeting will also discuss the importance of peace, justice and accountability for a secular democracy in India. You are cordially invited to participate in the meeting and discussion.

Venue:  The Pavilion, St. John the Baptist, Jambli Naka, Thane (West)

Date and Time:   23 August 2014, Saturday, 6.00 pm-8.00 pm

The following is the schedule of the program, remembering our affected sisters and brothers :
a. Film Screening: Indomitable Women Survivors of Kandhamal (duration: 25 mins)

b. Kandhamal Violence: Repercussions on a Secular India
- Irfan Engineer (Peace activist and Director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)

c. Breaking the Shackled Silence: Unheard Voices of Women from Kandhamal
- Saumya Uma (Researcher & activist – human rights, gender and the law)

d. Impact of Communal Violence on Minority Rights, Women’s Rights & a Secular Democracy
- Vahida Nainar (Independent researcher – women’s rights & human rights)

e. Questions and Answers / Discussion

Note: Kindly confirm your participation by 20th August 2014 by email to

- allwyn  d’silva

St. Xavier’s did not withdraw invitation: Dalit activist

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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Sheetal Sathe Mumbai, August 15, 2014: Dalit singer and activist Sheetal Sathe has denied media reports that Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College withdrew an invitation to her to attend its annual festival under pressure from Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

Sathe sent a statement on Thursday clarifying that she stayed away only because she did not want to jeopardize the Aug. 14-17 college festival, the Hindu newspaper reported.

She was initially invited to be part of a panel discussion called “Invisibility of Caste” during the festival but the BJP’s student wing opposed the move saying she is under police watch for anti-national activities.

Sathe’s statement said the college principal, Father Frazer Mascarenhas, had merely warned them of the threat and not told them not to attend.

ABVP protest began days before the festival saying Sathe is part of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), which supports anti-national activities such as backing naxal (Maoist) ideology.

Sathe was arrested in April 2013 on charges of supporting naxal activities. She was released on bail two months later.

“The only reason she is not on stage is not out of fear but out of deep appreciation for the courage and integrity of St. Xavier’s College,” said documentary film-maker Anand Patwardhan, on her behalf, according to the Hindu report.

Several leading social activists have decried the ABVP protest.

The moderator of the panel discussion, S. Anand, founder of the Navayana publishing house, said preventing Sathe from attending the event was a collective shame.

Kancha Ilaiah, former head of political science at Osmania University, said the increase in communal atrocities by the organizations affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had no control over them.

- the hindu

Karnataka: Four Christian arrested in Pulittadi

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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Persecution in karnatakaKarnataka, August, 13, 2014: Four Christians were arrested yesterday in Pulittadi, in Karnataka, on the basis of false accusations of forced conversions. Some locals reported the women after seeing them visit a family in the village, belonging to another religion. According to the crowd who rushed to the scene, the four tried to “influence the family to convert, laying siege to the house.”

The accused are Shirley, Mini, Leelamma and Shubha. Suresh Atramajalu, a member of the local administration, told police he had seen them handing out leaflets about Christianity and trying to convince people they met to convert. The police took them into custody and questioned them for two hours before releasing them.

Sajan George – president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) – considers the charges against the four Christian “a matter of serious concern, because not only did they target innocent faithful, but are likely to tear the fabric of society. The Hindu nationalist forces want to spread a feeling of suspicion towards Christians. “

Conversions to Christianity, he recalls, “are valid only if freely undertaken by the individual. Yet, the accusations were false, saying that the women were putting pressure on people, and with the complicity of the authorities they were arrested”.

- asianews

Indian PM donates Nepal temple 2500 Kgs sandal wood

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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Modi’s puja at a temple in NepalNew Delhi, August 05, 2014: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s puja at a temple in Nepal has sparked a row that led to an adjournment in the Lok Sabha Tuesday.

Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who raised the issue, said the PM should have also wished people on Eid last week.

“The Prime Minister offered Puja at a temple in Nepal. We appreciate that. He must also communicate ‘Eid Mubarak,” Bandyopadhyay said to loud protests by BJP lawmakers, NDTV reported.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu responded, “We believe in sarva dharma sambhava (all religions are equal)… PM had greeted the nation on Eid also.”

The PM prayed at the famous Pashupatinath temple near Kathmandu on Monday during his two-day trip to Nepal. He sanctioned 250 million rupees for a ‘dharamshala’ at the Hindu landmark and also offered 2,500 kg of sandalwood at for the temple.


Raids on five locations in Keral’s state capital city

In one of the biggest seizures of recent times, over 400 kg of sandalwood was seized in raids by the Forest Department from the capital city on Monday.

Simultaneous raids were conducted on five locations. The seized sandalwood, mostly in the form of idols, is estimated at Rs.7 crore.

One person has been arrested, while a hunt is on for three others who fled the spot.

T. Uma, Divisional Forest Officer, Thiruvananthapuram, who led the raids, said an anonymous letter had tipped off the department on artisans engaged in the illegal manufacture of sandalwood idols, primarily in the Eenchakkal and Muttathara areas. Forest officials kept the area under surveillance for nearly a month before Monday’s raids, which lasted for four hours from 10.30 a.m.

Over 20 idols, 10 of them ranging from 4 feet to 6 feet in size, all of them in various stages of completion, were seized. Sandalwood billets of various sizes were also recovered from the five locations, mostly residences that were covertly used as workshops.

Officials said the sandalwood was suspected to have been smuggled in from Tamil Nadu via Aryankavu and other routes on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, mostly on private inter-State bus services. The finished products were ferried in the same manner, predominantly to Kumta in Karnataka, which was believed to be the hub of the trade.

The idol traders were suspected to have international links, the officials said. Investigation so far had revealed that some of the idols were custom-made, taking several months in the making, they said

- ndtv

India’s Christians face continued terror under BJP rule

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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Christians against BJPUP, August 05, 2014: As feared by many religious minorities in India, intimidations and attacks from the Sangh Parivar (Hindu nationalist movement) have escalated under the Bharathiya Janatha Party’s (BJP) rule. Hindu radicals are now outright targeting Christians all across the country as a direct consequence of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) assuming power. It won’t be too long until this dangerous situation, made evident by the violent and widespread strategy of the Sangh Parivar, moves closer to the ultimate goal of the Sangh Parivar, India becoming a Hindu nation.

The right wing political party BJP, backed by the Sangh Parivar, achieved a landslide victory in India’s recent general elections that concluded two months ago. Since their rise to power, attacks on religious minorities across India has increased.

Included in this wave of religious violence, a church in Uttar Pradesh (UP) was rampaged when a mob of Hindu radicals belonging to the Bajrangdal, a Hindu nationalist group, spitefully attacked the Christians. The attack took place while the Christians were having the Bible study on July 16 at around 2:30 p.m. in Sahakarinagar village in UP. A group of 25 Hindu radicals led by Hemanth Singh stormed into the church and beat Rev. R. C. Paul and other Christians gathered for the Bible study. The radicals gave no reason for their assault on the Christians during the attack.

The assailants used wooden lathies (clubs) and fists to beat the Christians, causing internal injuries. After attacking the Christians gathered at the church, they went up to the church’s roof and desecrated the cross. After desecrating the cross, the group installed a saffron flag in place of cross. They also destroyed the church’s musical instruments and pulpit as well as tearing apart Bibles and other Christian literature they found in the church.

Rev. Dinesh Sohil, another pastor who came to the aid of attacked Christians, was badly beaten and was taken to a local hospital for immediate treatment.

Rev. R. C. Paul who has been in charge of the church since 1991 said, “We were shaken and are very scared of the situation in the area. We are concerned of our safety, even going alone outside looks very dangerous at the moment. But,” he continued, “We are encouraged by receiving so many phone calls and visits by [our] Christian brethren.” He added, “If God is for us who can be against us.”

Later, when Rev. R. C. Paul filed a complaint at the police station, the police arrested 12 suspected members of the group who attacked the church. Later, two more Bajrangdal leaders were arrested and were sent to jail for their involvement in the attack. Following the arrests, Bajrangdal activists staged a protest demanding the release of the people who led the attack on Christians.

In another incident in UP, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported that on July 7 a church in a village called Saraiya was also attacked by members of Shiv Sena, another Hindu nationalist group, and BJP. The local BJP leader, Harendra Pratap Singh, and the leader of the local Shiv Sena, Acche Lal Tiwari, were spotted leading this attack. When the local Christians of Saraiya attempted to report the incident to the police, the police took the pastor and 11 other Christians into custody.

Chhattisgarh, one of India’s eastern states, has also recently seen cases of violations of Christians’ right to religious freedom. An aggressive campaign led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), yet another Hindu nationalist group, has led to a ban on the entry of and propagation of any non-Hindu religion by non-Hindu missionaries, especially Christians, in more than 50 villages of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region in the last six months.

According to Suresh Yadav, Bastar District President of the VHP, “Over 50 gram panchayats (village councils) in Bastar have passed orders under Section 129 (G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act banning all ‘non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in the villages.’”

Since BJP’s rise to power, many Hindu nationalist groups have made clear their Hindutva agenda in both word and deed. The influence these groups have on the BJP-led government will likely continue to make Hindu radicals more aggressive, terrorizing India’s minorities, particularly Christians. Will the pluralistic and secular fabric of India fraying under this wave of religious violence, many Christians in India are wondering how long until they see a ‘Hindu India.’

- christian today

Pastor Simon Stanley & believers beaten up in Coimbatore

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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CoimbatorePastor. Simon Stanley has been taking care of Apostolic Christian Church in Perur near Coimbatore City. One of his believers named Bagavathi, who was staying in a nearby village named Goundanur invited Pastor Simon to come to his house and pray for his sick girl (12 years old who had a fractured hand). The pastor visited his house on Sunday (3rd Aug. 2014, evening about 7.00 pm) with a few believers and prayed for the girl.

Suddenly about 7.30 pm, around 10 member gang came and shouted at them and 6 of them forcefully entered the house and locked the door from inside. Then they beat all the people in the house including ladies and children using even vessels and with other house hold articles which were available in the house.

Many were severely injured and taken to the local hospital. Pastor Simon Stanley was taken to the Government Hospital of Coimbatore for further treatment. He was admitted there for 3 days. Since he had many injuries CT scan was done and he is still under treatment.

An FIR was filed in Perur Police station and Sub Inspector Murugavel is conducting the investigation. Yesterday 2 people were arrested and remanded to Judicial custody by the magistrate of Coimbatore Court. The news was published in the local papers and also covered by TV news channels.


BJP & Parivar intensifies campaign against ‘love jihad’

August 9, 2014 by admin  
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Campaign against 'love jihad'Delhi, August 08, 2014: The Hindu Members of BJP Mahila Morcha shout slogans near the residence of the rape

“Hindu mahilaon ka apmaan, nahi sahenge, nahi sahenge, (We will not tolerate the humiliation of Hindu women)”a handful of well-dressed city dwellers who descended on Sarawa village, 60 km east of Delhi, shouted outside the tumbledown house of a 20-year old girl who was allegedly raped and forcibly converted to Islam. Rakhi Tyagi, who led the women, said she was the Uttar Pradesh state general secretary of the Mahila Morcha, the women’s wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

According to a police complaint filed on August 3, the girl was abducted, kept in custody and raped by several men before being converted to Islam. Allegations are yet to be ascertained, said Alok Sharma, Inspector General of Police. “Only the girl can tell us truth, and whatever she says would be deemed true. The problem occurs when she gives contradictory versions.”

Ambiguities in the girl’s and her parents’ accounts of the incidents may impede the investigation but not the politics fuelled by the fact that the girl is a Hindu and the accused are Muslims. Dr Chandramohan, spokesperson of the UP State BJP, surrounded by several other party leaders at his home, tinformed , “This is part of a global love jihad that targets vulnerable Hindu girls who are entrapped and forced to convert to Islam. The BJP will oppose forced conversions and intervene on behalf of the victims,” he said, adding that social organisations would intensify awareness among the Hindus to be alert.

Awareness rallies

One such social organisation is (Religious Awakening), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). Rajeshwar Singh, its coordinator for the western UP region told The Hindu by phone from Agra that from August 23 to September 15, there would be rallies in all districts against conversions. “This incident has brought forth the urgency of the question of conversions yet again,” he said.

Mr Singh said the “real test of strength” would be in December, when his organisation plans to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism in two separate programmes.

“On December 23, the martyrdom day of Swami Shraddhanand (the leader of the 19th century Shuddhi (re-conversion) movement) we will convert Muslims to Hinduism in at least 50 locations in west UP,” he said. “On December 25, the day when Christians convert people to their religion, this year, we will do the reverse – by converting them back to Hinduism. In two-three years, the rural hinterland will be free of Christians.” Asked how he planned to convince people to become Hindus, he said: “It will be a test of who is stronger. Hindus or them. You just wait and watch.”

A 20-year-old girl who was allegedly raped and coerced into converting to Islam at Sarawa village, 60 km east of Delhi, belonged to a distressed upper caste family and knew the accused, Muslims of the same village.

Her mother, Urmila Tyagi (name changed), believes her daughter’s decision to teach in the local Madrassa Sultania and her close friendship with a Muslim girl, who is arrested as an accused in the case, led her into a trap. “She was brainwashed, converted, and raped. She was repeatedly threatened that if she related her ordeal to anyone, the power of the Koran would destroy her and the family. She was lured with the promise of a job. She should not have trusted Muslims,” said the mother. “But our gods were stronger. They rescued her.”

In a Ghaziabad hospital, the victim is critically ill from infection possibly due to inadequate care following a surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy two weeks ago. The complaint says she was raped on June 29. She went away from home on July 23 giving some excuse to her parents and retuned on July 27. The girl underwent the surgery during those days, but investigators have found that two boys, who find no mention in her complaint, accompanied her to the hospital: one a Muslim, the other Hindu. The police have also found that the surgery did not take place in Muzzaffarnagar as stated by the girl, but in Meerut.

On July 29, the girl left home again, which first led to a missing person complaint and three days later, when she returned, a complaint of abduction and rape. She said she was forced to covert in the meanwhile. “We are in the process of verifying all this. There are many things that are not adding up,” said K. Satyanarayana, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Meerut. The police have arrested five people in the case so far.

Chandramohan, U.P. spokesperson of the BJP who visited the victim’s family with party State president Laxmikant Vajpai on Tuesday, said it was not mere coincidence that the victim was Hindu and the accused were Muslims. “There is a pattern to all such incidents of entrapping Hindu girls and converting them to Islam, in west UP.” Shakuntala Bharati, BJP leader and Mayor of Aligarh, has built her political career fighting “love jihad.” “I have lost count of the incidents. But I have faced death to rescue our girls from the clutches of Muslims,” she claims. Alok Sharma, Inspector-General of Police, Meerut, told the Hindu: “This case was a stray incident. I can’t recall similar cases elsewhere.”

The Hindu-dominated village that had elected a Muslim village head is now divided on religious lines, with Nawab Khan, the head himself, under arrest as an accused in the case. Mohammad Aslam, a villager, said: “I had warned against having women teachers in the madrassa. What do women have to do with teaching?” Thirty-five old Maulana Ameeruddin who runs the madrassa has a different take. “What is needed are strict laws against adultery, pre-martial sex.”

- the hindu

Writ in SC for probe into conversion of Hindu girls

August 9, 2014 by admin  
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supreme courtDelhi, August 09, 2014: The Supreme Court on Friday cautioned non governmental organisations from making allegations which would disturb the country’s secular fabric.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman, hearing a writ petition filed by NGO Jayati Bharatam, seeking a SIT probe into incidents of conversion of Hindu girls into Muslims, said making averments without any supporting material would disturb the secular fabric.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) told counsel Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for the NGO “this is a secular state. Don’t try to bring religion into the court. We are also concerned with the matter and you are also saying it is serious. But the colour which you are giving is also concerning us. We are concerned with the law point. You should not do anything or do anything by word of mouth which disturbs peace. We are a secular state and everything should be done that protects the secular fabric. Nobody should do things to disturb the secular fabric.”

The counsel said there was kidnap and gang rape of girls in Western Uttar Pradesh, where girls were being forced to convert as Muslims. He said about 40 to 50 girls were held captive and they would be converted into Islam and pleaded for a SIT probe.

When the CJI wanted to know whether the NGO had made any representation to the authorities or the National Commission for Women (NCW), the counsel said though representations were made, the State government was not taking any action. He alleged that vote bank politics was coming in the way of taking effective steps and Madrasas in U.P. had become a hub for forced conversion.

The CJI said, “You don’t produce anything to show that you made a representation to NCW. You don’t have anything to show you made representation to police. You have made vague statements. Though there are allegations that 40 to 50 girls have been kidnapped and gangraped, none of the parents of have filed any complaint.” The counsel then withdrew his petition with liberty to file a fresh one deleting objectionable references.

- the hindu

Hindu radicals beat up women and children of a Pentecostal community

August 9, 2014 by admin  
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Tamil NaduTamil Nadu, August 07, 2014: Hindu radicals beat up women and children of a Pentecostal community

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), tells AsiaNews of yet another attack against the Christian minority. A group of extremists disrupted a prayer service and attacked the Reverend and faithful present with iron bars.

“There must be an end to this increasing distortion of the Christian mission and the physical violence perpetrated on innocent people, including women and children” demands Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). He was commenting to AsiaNews on the umpteenth attack suffered by a Pentecostal community at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists.

The incident occurred on August 3 in Coimbatore, a city in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The Rev. Simon Stanley, of the Apostolic Christian Church of Perur, went to visit Mr. Bagavathi, a faithful of the nearby village of Goundanur. The man asked the pastor to pray for his 12 year old daughter, who had a broken hand.

Suddenly, a group of 10 Hindu nationalists broke into the house, barred the door from the inside and assaulted all present. The attackers also beat the women and children, using iron bars and other instruments found in the house. Many were severely injured in the attack, to the point of being brought to hospital. The Rev. Stainley is still recovering from the trauma suffered.

Perur Police opened a case and are investigating the episode. Two people were arrested for the attack.

The Pentecostal Christians – explains the GCIC president to AsiaNews – are an easy target for the extremist Hindus, with police turning a blind eye to requests for help from vulnerable faithful and even ignoring the atrocities committed against women and children”. (NC)

- asianews

Won’t seek Modi’s help for a Hindu Nepal: Kamal Thapa

August 6, 2014 by admin  
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Kamal Thapa with ModiKathmandu, August 1, 2014: The leader of a pro-monarchist and pro-Hindu political party in Nepal has said his party would not seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help to restore the country’s status as the world’s only Hindu state.

Kamal Thapa, president of Rastriya Prajatantra Party–Nepal (RRP-Nepal), said whether Nepal should be a Hindu state or a secular state is the internal matter of the country.”We don’t want leaders of other country to get involved in our internal matter,” he told a private television channel during an interview.”We will raise the matter within our own country.”

The RPP-Nepal continues to push for a return to constitutional monarchy and has focused its campaign on making Nepal a Hindu state once again after it was declared a secular republic in 2008.

Thapa said Modi is a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is a strong supporter of Hindu religion, but “we are not going to ask his help in restoring Nepal as a Hindu state.”

- pti

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