India’s Hindu nationalist government has reacted “immaturely” to Nepal’s decision to call itself a “secular” state as opposed to a “Hindu” nation in the long-awaited constitution that was finally approved on 16 September, said a Nepalese Christian leader. A blockade on the Nepal-India border has led to extreme shortages of basic essentials, but Indian officials deny their involvement.
“[The] BJP party was very interested to make Nepal a Hindu State. It has expressed that intention time to time through its leaders. During the visits of Modi to Nepal, he had a special interest of making ‘religious pilgrimage’ to various religious sites in Nepal … and since it did not happen, under the pressure of BJP, RSS, or such organizations, Modi government imposed embargo to Nepal. Such reaction of Modi is interpreted as immature and he has failed in his diplomatic norms in relation to neighbour, Nepal. … Nepal has been facing acute shortage of fuel, medicine, medical supplies, other commodities and other basic supplies. Schools and colleges have closed down. Such Indian action has paralyzed Nepal and we hope and pray that it will normalize soon. Nepal government is trying to find the alternatives in the last hour, even for that Modi government is against. It says, we do not supply and we do not want Nepal to receive from any other place. No nation has faced such harsh dealings from a neighbour as Nepal is experiencing. What Nepal has done? Has it made an atom bomb? Has it captured any territory from any other nation?”
“Nepal has been declared a secular state, but it has redefined secularism in its own way that is contrary to the international norm of what secularism means. The spirit of secularism always gives equal place to all the religious and political ideologies and uses no funds for the promotion of one religion or political ideology. This constitution 2015 has curtailed the freedom of conscience, speech and persuasion, profession, and propagation of our beliefs. Such definition of secularism is not acceptable if we want to keep the spirit of secularism. It is hoped such wrong definition will be amended to tally with the international standard and understanding of secularism. At present constitution states that conversion to any religion is punishable by law. Such definition of secularism is contrary to the spirit of secularism and the human freedom.”