2013-05-28 19:47:01

American students accused of proselytizing expelled from village

Kathmandu, 28 May 2013: A violent incident that took place on Sunday in Nepal’s Kanchenjunga has become a national case. Local residents in a small village in northeastern Nepal robbed a group of young US researchers and forced them to leave on false charges of spreading Christianity and spying on Chinese companies operating in the area.

Reports about the incident have shaken public opinion, forcing Home Affairs Ministry Chief Secretary Navin Ghimire to state that "No Christian or foreign tourist should be afraid in Nepal. The country is safe and all activities carried on our territory are protected by the law."

The official said that investigations are already underway and that the information about the people responsible for the robbery and threats against the young foreigners are already being investigated.

Nepal is not new to cases of violence and robbery at the expense of tourists and foreign researchers. The most recent incident dates back to 28 April, when a group of sherpas on Mount Everest attacked some foreign climbers, including Italian Simone Moro.

However, the incident in Kanchenjunga has the government worried that it might signal a rise in thefts and abuse against foreigners and religious minorities on the pretext of proselytism. The incident in question occurred yesterday morning in the village of Hangdewa, in Taplejung District between China and India, and has already been become front-page news on national media.

A group of local youths surrounded 17 US students, telling them to hand over their tools, including tape recorders, video cameras, mobile phones and cash. The thugs told passers-by that the young foreigners were spies who had come to the area to proselytise and spy on the Chinese. Some villagers helped the youths, forcing the 17 US students to leave, telling them not file any complaints with the police, or they would be killed.

Once they fled, the researchers went to the nearest police station whose agents eventually recovered some of the stolen goods and arrested four young thugs aged between 14 and 17 years.

"We are looking for other people connected to this regrettable fact," said Deputy Superintendent of Police Govinda Prasad Shrestha. "We want to understand who is behind this inexplicable act."

The US researchers are all students from the University of California. They were in the area for a bio-diversity project. The 30-member group had left Kathmandu on 23 April for Taplejunk District.

Source: AsiaNews

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