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Nepalese Christians are being prevented from burying their dead

(Wikimedia Commons/Clemensmarabu)Patan Durbar Square in the town of Patan, Nepal, Aug. 11, 2005.

Nepalese Christians are having difficulty obtaining rights to their own burial grounds, and they are being forced to bury their dead at nearby forests at night, according to a Christian lobbying group.

C.B. Gahatraj, general secretary of the Federation of National Christians, Nepal (FNCN), said in an interview with The Christian Post that there have been reports that the deceased Christians were dug up from the ground and dumped at the homes of the relatives or discarded on the streets.

Gahatraj noted that Christians who bury their dead in the forests are at risk of facing legal consequences if they are caught, and these Christians will have to dig up the remains and relocate them elsewhere.

"If Christians refuse to dig out the bodies of their relatives, in some cases Hindu radicals have themselves dug out the bodies, and taken the bodies to the Christian relatives' home, and in other cases have just left the dead bodies on the streets," he stated.

Christians have held hunger strikes to protest the burial ban which resulted in an agreement to temporarily allow a cemetery for Christians, according to Gahatraj.

He said that the Christian church is continuously growing despite the hardships they are facing. He noted that there are currently over 10,000 houses of worship, but they are struggling to get registered with the government and be officially recognized as nonprofit organizations.

Nepal is officially a secular state, but there are prohibitions against proselytizing. Gahatraj explained that people are allowed to practice their religion, but they are forbidden from sharing their faith with others.

Last June, eight Christian counselors were arrested for distributing pamphlets about Jesus in a Christian school. They were accused of trying to convert children, but they denied the allegation. Gahatraj told World Watch Monitor that the pamphlet they distributed was just a children's book that happens to contain the story of Jesus. The charges against the counselors were eventually dropped in December.

Some pastors are falsely accused of money laundering when they receive foreign aid, and they are sometimes investigated by the police without a warrant.

FNCN is continuously negotiating with the government to stop harassment of Christians.

"We have a six-point agreement with the government of Nepal. If the government implements and takes action on this agreement, our rights, our freedom of religion, will be very much benefited, and it will last for a longer period of time," Gahatraj told The Christian Post.

The agreement calls on the government to recognize Christian churches across Nepal. It states that Christians should be allowed to manage their sacred religious spaces, and it also appeals for equal treatment with regards to allocated public holidays.

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