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Nepal rejects call to Remove the term Secularism

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Kathmandu: Nepal’s Constituent Assembly today rejected calls to remove the key term secularism from the new Constitution and revert the Himalayan nation to a Hindu state, triggering protests by Hindu activists.
During voting on Monday on a draft of the country’s long-delayed new constitution, sparking violent protests.

Nepal was Hindu for centuries when kings ruled, but has been a secular state since the monarchy was abolished in 2006.

Thapa’s proposal for a vote received the support of only 21 lawmakers in the 601-seat Constituent Assembly. CA rules require that at least 61 members approve a proposal for voting.

During a public opinion collection held in July, majority of the people preferred the word ‘Hindu’ or ‘religious freedom’ instead of using the term ‘secularism’.

Protesting the rejection of the proposal, a group of Hindu activists carrying yellow and saffron flags clashed with security personnel at New Baneshwar area in the capital.

The clash erupted after police used force to disperse the agitating activists who tried to enter the prohibitory area near the Constituent Assembly building.

They wanted to march towards the Assembly, demanding that Nepal be acknowledged as Hindu state in the new constitution.

The protesters attacked passing vehicles, including one of the United Nations.

Nepal yesterday entered the final phase of promulgating its new Constitution with the three major parties going ahead with clause-wise voting on the final draft of the statute despite a boycott by Madhesi parties and violent protests that have claimed nearly 40 lives.

The Madhesi parties are protesting against the seven province model of the federal structure as proposed by the major political parties.

Southern Nepal has witnessed turmoil since lawmakers from major political parties struck a breakthrough deal on August 15 to divide the country into seven provinces.