Churches in Nepal, the erstwhile Hindu Rashtra on the face of the earth, have maintained a unique tradition. They hold services on Saturdays because it is a public holiday when schools and offices are closed. When Deepa Patrick, 22, and Celeste Joseph, 15, both from Patna, went to visit some of their relatives in Lalitpur, situated south of Kathmandu, they found this fact of Lalitpur’s Christian community’s social life very interesting. In one of her last e-mails to her parents back home Deepa even specifically mentioned this aspect of Lalitpur, which has a very small community of Christians living there for many decades. The e-mail by Deepa is the last communication which her mother has with her now, as Deepa is no more.
She and Celeste died in the same Church when a bomb exploded at the time of the service itself. It was a Saturday and about 500 people were attending the service on that day. The priest had just started giving his sermon when there was an explosion in which a bomb ripped through the Church of the Assumption killing both of them on the spot. Around 12 others were also injured. Five of the injured are in serious condition. [aljazeera.net, May 23, 2009, Blast rips through Nepal church, The blast at the Roman Catholic church was the first such attack in Nepal (EPA)] According to an eyewitness who attended the church service, a bag was lying on the floor of the church and someone moved it to make some space and it just exploded with a loud noise.
The bomb blast took place just a few hours before the country’s parliament was to elect a new Prime Minister.
A Hindu extremist group called the National Defence Army claimed responsibility for the bloody act. The said group is fighting to restore the nation’s Hindu monarchy abolished in 2008. The NDA, which was formed by Ram Prasad Mainali of Sarlahi district, following the declaration of Nepal as a secular state by the Constituent Assembly last year, has been involved in various violent communal activities, including last July’s murder of Father John Prakash at Don Bosco School in Sirsiya, Morang, eastern Nepal. As his record shows, Mainali has walked out every time after serving jail terms and paying fines.
The group also said it bombed a mosque in the east of the country last year, killing two people.
Definitely this was not for the first time that a Hindu extremist group had involved itself in criminal/terrorist activities to sabotage the nascent republic which was being built on the ruins of the decadent monarchy.
Birgunj had also witnessed a bomb blast in 2007 which was executed by a similar Hindu extremist group.
By Subhash Gatade