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Police and Hindu protesters clash after Nepal rejects campaign to make it a Hindu state.

The Constituent Assembly of Nepal turned down calls to convert the nation into a completely Hindu state at the time of voting on Monday. The country’s new constitution has been in the process of formulation for a long period of time. Nepal was a Hindu nation for several centuries, at the time of the kings’ rule. However, it turned into a secular nation when the monarchy got abolished in the year 2006.

Over two-thirds of the constituent assembly that has been voting on a constitution draft from Sunday, cast their vote against converting Nepal into a Hindu nation all over again. This proposal required the endorsement of at least two-thirds of the constituent assembly members so as to get adopted.

It was the Hindu-leaning Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal that pushed the proposal. Also popularly called the National Democratic Party Nepal, they want Nepal to become a monarchy. Nepal has a population dominated by Hindus and several of them hold the belief that the ruling kings were actually reincarnations of Vishnu, a Hindu god.

After Monday’s voting, several hundred Hindu protesters assembled outside the hall accompanied by police, who were firing water cannons at the protesters and thrashing them using bamboo batons.

Passing vehicles were also attacked by the protesters. On such vehicle was a U.N. Car, which was believed to be carrying a U.N. official to the airport. Both the driver and the official did not get hurt. No one was severely wounded in the protests and fights between the Hindu protesters and the police.

The formulation of the constitution of Nepal has been delayed for several years due to the arguments between the major political parties of Nepal and the draft voting. It is done in a very systematic way, discussing one clause at a time, which takes a number of days, making it a lengthy process. Finally, the three major parties reached an agreement in the current year, allowing the process to evolve after years of lying stale in one place.

An interim constitution has worked in Nepal since the time of pro-democracy demands forced King Gyanendra to forego authoritarian rule. This made Nepal a republic nation. The new Nepal constitution holds a proposal to break up Nepal into seven federal provinces. There are some ethnic groups which are not in favor of this structuring.

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