Nepalgunj curfew extended for 2nd dayDistrict administration requests one and all to help maintain religious and social harmony.
The District Administration Office in Banke has extended the curfew imposed on Tuesday in Nepalgunj to avert any untoward incidents amid risks of communal clashes. The authorities said the situation is under control and life has returned to normal.
The district administration enforced the prohibitory measures after a dispute ensued between religious groups in the town. The dispute was further fuelled after various groups took to social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and X to put up provocative posts.
Following tensions, religious leaders of Hindu and Muslim communities, representatives of various political parties and civil society leaders joined hands to appeal to people from various communities to maintain religious harmony in Nepalgunj.
Chandan Nath Yogi, the Mahanta of the Bageshwari Temple, and Muslim religious leader Maulana Abdul Jabbar Manjari urged one and all to maintain social and religious harmony. They led a goodwill march in Nepalgunj on Tuesday.
“Every individual should respect another’s religion and respect their faith and sentiment. We should work to maintain religious harmony in Nepalgunj,” said Yogi. He said religious tolerance and harmony is in the best interests of all people irrespective of their religious affiliation, ethnicity or cultural backgrounds.
Nepalgunj, a sub-metropolitan city in the western Tarai district of Banke, has historically been a melting pot for cultures and religions. People of all faiths have lived in harmony in the city, which is home to Hindus and Muslims as well as people of both hilly origin and Madhesi communities. The religious leaders have traditionally stood together whenever there have been attempts to disturb religious harmony in the past.
Responding to the recent tension that escalated in Nepalgunj, Manjari said, “We religious leaders are united to maintain religious and social harmony. Nobody should disrupt communal harmony in society.”
Issuing a press release on Wednesday, the district administration also requested everyone to maintain religious and social harmony, further appealing to refrain from publishing any provocative content on social media.
“We once again request everyone to not publish any written, verbal, or audio-visual content that disturbs the religious and social harmony of Nepalgunj via social media or other mediums,” reads the notice.
Strict action will be taken against those who don’t abide by the law, the statement further warns.
The administration further requested political parties, religious leaders, and the media to help maintain harmony in the region.
“Political parties, religious leaders, members of society, media personnel, and citizens are requested to help maintain peace and dignity of Nepalgunj,” the press release further reads.
The Banke District Administration Office on Tuesday imposed an indefinite curfew in Nepalgunj, starting at 1pm, over fears of communal violence.
The curfew order has been issued within the Rapti River Bridge in the east, the road to Indrapur on Khajura road in the west, Ranjha Chowk in the north and Jamunaha border point in the south.
No one will be allowed to hold gatherings, meetings, processions, rallies or even walk on the road during the curfew period. The administration has said those violating the curfew order would be punished as per the law.
The district administration on Tuesday said that it had to issue the order due to the possibility of an untoward situation following the protest march rally by a community over a social media post targeting that community.
Some people questioned the lackadaisical response of the local administration over the provocative social media posts. “The local administration failed to take timely action against hurtful social media posts,” said Abdul Kabi, a Nepalgunj-based social campaigner. “The administration should punish those who insult others’ religions and faiths.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal convened a meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday and discussed recent incidents of communal disputes in various parts of the country.
A statement issued by Colonel Ramkaji Thapa of the Security Council secretariat said that rising issues of religious and communal intolerance were discussed during the meeting.
During the meeting held at its secretariat in Singha Durbar and chaired by Prime Minister Dahal, security challenges were also discussed.
“The incidents relating to national security, including religious and communal intolerance in some parts of the country in recent times, the state of provincial security, growing misuse of social media and its effects on national security, and their mitigation and solution were discussed,” reads the statement.
Minister for Defence Purna Bahadur Khadka, Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat, Minister for Foreign Affairs NP Saud, National Security Adviser Shanker Das Bairagi, Chief Secretary Baikuntha Aryal, Chief of Army Staff Prabhuram Sharma, and Defence Secretary Kiran Raj Sharma, among others, were present in the meeting.
The current state of international, regional and national security was also reviewed. The council approved the fifth annual report of the National Security Council, which will be presented to the President.
Meanwhile, the Nepal Press Council has urged everyone to think twice before sharing any unfounded content or helping to disseminate such content on social media. It has requested people to refrain from posting content that might disturb social harmony.