Priest Slain in Nepal

Hindu Extremists Suspected

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KATMANDU, Nepal, JULY 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A Salesian priest from India was killed Monday in Nepal when armed men broke into his residence and detonated an explosive device.



Father John Prakash, 62, directed a school in Sirsiya in the Morang district of the South Asian country. According to Vatican Radio, the initial investigations have led authorities to suspect the assassination is linked to a Hindu extremist group.

Bishop Anthony Sharma, the country's first and only bishop, serving as apostolic vicar of Nepal, told Vatican Radio that since the nation's classification as a lay state in 2006, some Hindu extremists "have felt deprived of their privileges." Nepal was previously the world's only Hindu nation. The population of some 29.5 million is 80% Hindu.

The bishop noted that the group suspected in the slaying of Father Prakash is also implicated in the bombing of a prayer meeting of a Muslim community in east Nepal, not far from Sirsiya.

"There had been other threats, because Nepal is a majority Hindu nation and these extremists want the Christians and Muslims to leave," the prelate said. "This was the threat, but we thought the problem had been resolved, because we had had a bit of dialogue among us.

"Their intention is to cause fear and to frighten the Christians of the country. But that won't happen."

Bishop Sharma said that Father Prakash was "very generous, a man who never thought about himself, but about the others."