Now that parliament has confined the monarchy to symbolism at par with the Living Goddess, there are those in the palace who are trying to turn humiliation into fundamentalism. This is a colossal blunder: they are playing with fire and the ensuing conflagration will first consume those who stoke it.
Religious freedom is an integral part of the charter of liberties already enshrined in the 1990 constitution. Even though the kingdom was not designated a secular state, Nepal has never been as Hindu as it was made out to be by the ancien regime. Despite being a Hindu monarchy, the legislative, the executive and the judicial wings of the state are run strictly according to the constitution with no reference to any religious scriptures. At least in intent, Nepal was a secular kingdom long before it was formally declared to be one two weeks ago.
But privileges once acquired, howsoever illegal, are hard to discard. Hardcore royalists benefited from the Hindu kingdom myth. And they are the ones behind the fundamentalist upsurge in Birganj. This is a clear effort to create mischief, sow instability and stir religious discord. Nepal has never had impulsive religious riots. The few instances of communal violence are now known to have been planned to take advantage of the anarchy for short-term political advantage.
The state must demonstrate zero tolerance towards these intolerant fanatics of the Hindu right who have again deliberately mixed up faith with state. The majority of Hindu Nepalis believe in the separation of religion and politics, and non-Hindu Nepalis whole-heartedly support it. Those who are against secularism are of course free to hold that belief but there is no place in the new Nepal for fundos advocating religious extremism. Nepal is secular and it must remain safe for Nepalis of every religion, or for that matter, of no particular religion.