Muslim group calls indefinite transport shutdown in Nepal

October 17th, 2008 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 17 (IANS) Enraged by repeated attacks on mosques and protesting the lack of security, Muslims in eastern Nepal have called an indefinite transport shutdown from Sunday.The Purvanchal Muslim Sangharsh Samiti, an umbrella organisation of protesters, has been staging a transport shutdown in eastern Nepal since Thursday to pressure the Maoist government to bring to justice an armed group that led two recent attacks on mosques in eastern Nepal. Two devotees at prayer were killed in the attacks.

Sunsari and Morang districts on the India-Nepal border have been hit by the shutdown with hundreds of people going to and coming from India left stranded.

If the home ministry failed to give them an assurance of safety and justice, the 48-hour strike would stretch into an indefinite one from Sunday, the Samiti said.

The protests come in the wake of an explosion at the Hattimuda mosque earlier this month in which at least four people were injured.

The explosion revived the terror spread by an earlier blast in March in Biratnagar town in eastern Nepal which killed two men.

A shadowy organisation calling itself the Nepal Defence Army, which says its agenda is to restore Hinduism as the state religion, had claimed responsibility for the blasts.

The protesters are demanding that the culprits be caught and punished, compensation for the injured and the families of the people slain and beefing up of security measures.

Though Nepal had been the world’s only Hindu kingdom till 2006, there had been little sectarian violence.

However, after the transformation of the Hindu kingdom into a secular republic, there has been growing violence in Nepal’s fertile Terai plains that has pitted communities against one another.

New Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has promised that the government would form a high-level Muslim Commission to address the woes of the community.

Recently, Muslims also protested the state’s decision to hike the money for Haj pilgrims bound for Mecca that led to drastic decrease in the number of pilgrims.

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