About 200 protesters demanding that Nepal be turned back into a Hindu nation forcibly entered the national stadium on Monday where Deputy Prime Minister Prakash Man Singh was collecting public suggestions for the country's draft constitution, and threw chairs at him. The protesters from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal chanted slogans and clashed with police as Singh was addressing the crowd, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
No one was hurt in the clashes and riot police had to reportedly push the protesters out of the stadium.
Nepal was declared a secular state after a centuries-old monarchy that promoted Hinduism was overthrown in 2008, the AP reported. At the time, the kings were believed to be reincarnated versions of Hindu god Vishnu.
"Nepal is a Hindu state and will remain a Hindu state. Almost all Nepalese are Hindus and we will continue to protest until the country is declared a Hindu state once again," Madhav Bhattarai, a protester, told the AP, adding that the country was called a secular state only “because of foreign influence.”
The first Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 was supposed to prepare the draft constitution in 2010, but failed to complete the task. Another assembly elected in 2012 has also struggled amid political differences. The country, which has been managed by an interim constitution for seven years, started facing pressure to quicken the process after an earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people in April.
A major topic under debate is how to divide the country’s federal states. Another contentious issue centers on the rights for women and minorities, which was also pointed out by participants at the Kathmandu meeting on Monday. "Women are still not given equal rights in the new draft despite promises from the politicians," Sita Shrestha, a housewife, told the AP.