Nepal is a mountainous country located in the Himalayas, bordering India to the west, and China in every other direction. Earlier this year, Nepal dominated the headlines, with an unfortunate spate of national disasters rocking the country. The first earthquake in April claimed 9000 lives, and left over 23,000 injured. The aftershock less than a month later killed a further 218, and left another 35000 injured. But today Nepal is making headlines for much different reasons.
Just scrolled through #Nepal Twitter. Jesus people, at least express yourselves without threatening to harm people you disagree with.
— Anup Kaphle (@AnupKaphle) September 13, 2015
Violence has gripped Nepal. BRIC+ News gives you all the key information, and the background to the hostility and tensions that ravage this land of mountains.
Nepal was once a Hindu kingdom
People may have lived in the Himalayan region for over 11,000 years. However, the country we now call Nepal has not been present this long. The land which Nepal now covers was once divided into separate kingdoms, which included Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. It wasn’t until 1769, following the conquests of Prithvi Naryan Shah, that the Kingdom of Nepal was born. The land was united under the monarchy and the Hindu religion.
It became a republic in 2006
Nepal’s monarchy was overthrown in 2006, the final act in the slow demise of a monarchy plagued by scandal for decades. Civil war, corruption, suspension of democracy, and a massacre within the royal compound in 2001 at the hands of the Crown Prince. It was dissolution of the House of Representatives in 2005 that spelled the final death knell for the Rana dynasty. In 2006, King Gyanendra relinquished all sovereign power. A unanimous vote in the reinstated House of Representatives sealed his fate. Nepal became a secular, federal republic.
Not everyone accepts secularism
The world is moving twrds being a tolerant secular democracy #Nepal is trying to turn itslf into a hindu state?!
— Muhammad Samran (@super_Sam94) September 14, 2015
The adoption of secularism came hand-in-hand with the abolition of the monarchy. The removal of the traditional head of state swept away the need for established religion. Not only this, but the political leanings of many in the Seven Party Alliance (particularly the Communist Party of Nepal), were towards secularism. Since 2006, there has been a powerful movement seeking to restore Hinduism as the established religion of the state. The country has a large Hindu majority of 81% – but is also home to many other major religions, such as Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. On Monday, the Nepalese parliament overwhelmingly rejected a motion to re-establish Hinduism as the official religion of the state.
The decision caused riots
— India TV (@indiatvnews) September 14, 2015
The rejection of the proposal caused uproar among some parts of Nepalese society. Before long, protests and riots rocked the country, with dissatisfied citizens demonstrating outside the assembly hall. Security forces and a UN vehicle were attacked, as the police responded with water cannons and batons made of bamboo. With the protests still on-going, and the decision provoking strong opinions from both sides, the end does not seem to be in sight.