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Muslims in Nepal demand reservation

The Intellectual Muslim Association of Nepal demands at least 10 per cent reservation in the Constituent Assembly, reports Anirban Roy.

world Updated: Jun 30, 2007 02:18 IST
Anirban Roy
Anirban Roy
Hindustan Times

Muslims in Nepal have now demanded reservation in the Constituent Assembly, a year after the Himalayan kingdom was transformed from being the world’s only Hindu nation to a secular one.

The Intellectual Muslim Association of Nepal (IMAN) on Friday demanded at least 10 per cent reservation in the Constituent Assembly — even as the political forces in the country are emphasising on drafting an “inclusive” constitution.

Ijaharul Hak Makrani, the president of IMAN, claimed that since Muslims constitute more than 10 per cent of Nepal’s population, the government should immediately consider reserving seats for the community in the Constituent Assembly.

The Muslim population in Nepal is concentrated primarily in the southern Terai region, which borders India. They have been there for centuries. Even the capital city of Kathmandu has a large number of Muslims, many of whom are Kashmiri in origin.

“Without Muslims being represented, the spirit of the Constituent Assembly would be totally defeated,” Mikrani said. The election to the Constituent Assembly is scheduled for November 22.

But how the leaders of the ruling Eight Party Alliance (EPA), under the leadership of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, react to the demand of the Muslim populace — who have always been ignored in the political setup — is not known yet.

In fact, it was due to Maoist pressure that Koirala had declared Nepal a secular state.

But even after the transformation of Nepal, the political parties there, except for the Maoist faction, still believe that the country should revert back to being a Hindu Nation.

A recent survey conducted by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance revealed that more than 60 per cent of the people in Nepal still want to identify themselves as citizens of a Hindu nation.

First Published: Jun 30, 2007 02:13 IST