Sep 5, 2014

NEPAL: A Muslim family rendered homeless after converting to the Wahhabi sect

September 4, 2014
Asian Human Rights Commission

The Terai Human Rights Defenders (THRD) Alliance in Nepal has informed the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that a Muslim family of the Sunni faith, residing at the Gauri Village Development Committee in Kapilavastu District have been forced to flee their home as a result of converting to the Wahhabi sect on or around the 10 June 2014. Reports state that local Sunnis have destroyed their farm lands, their crops and their home and looted their property. Following the incident the family was forced to flee, in order to avoid further attacks.  They have sought assistance from the District Police and the District Administration Offices; however the police have downright refused to provide any assistance to them. Today despite an order from the Court, to restore their land and their freedoms to practice a religion of their choice, have not been able to return to their home and remain as refugees. 

A Muslim family has been forced to flee their home and lands on 10 June 2014. Mr. Hajarat Teli, 56 years old farmer and his family has been displaced from Gauri Village Development Committee (VDC)-5, Vadehar of Kapilvastu District, a nearby VDC to district headquarters Taulihawa. They have been chased away from their homes due to them changing their faith to the Wahhabi (Haddish) sect. The area where they live is dominated by a majority of Sunni Muslims. Sunni Muslims in the area fear that the growing number of people converting to the Wahhabi sect would eventually make them a minority. 

Mr. Hajarat had decided to change to the Wahhabi sect following his visit to Mecca-Medina in the year 2012. Once the local Sunni community had been informed of his conversion they have on previous occasions obstructed him and his family from praying at the local Mosque thus making him an outcast in his community. Following this incident the family had to pray at a Mosque in Taulihawa, which is at a fair distance from their village and hence, had since June this year commenced the construction of a Mosque in his own land - at Plot Number: 114, Registration Number: 0-0-19.

It is reported that a group of 100 Sunni Muslims led by one Hajarat Ali Mussalman, had attacked Hajarat and had also looted the construction materials brought to build the Mosque. Hajarat made an oral complaint at the District Police Office Kapilvastu, but this had not been investigated nor has anyone been taken into custody regarding this incident. He had then on 19 May 2014, filed an application at the District Administration Office (DAO) Kapilavastu, requesting them to provide safety for him and his family to be able to freely practice his religious in a peaceful environment. The attack didn’t stop there; on 28 June 2014, the Sunni mobs have set their buffaloes loose in his Paddy fields where all his freshly sown crops were destroyed. Following this incident, on 28th June 2014, Hajarat had registered a case at the DAO Kapilavastu - bearing Registration Number 5167 - and to no avail. This time too, he was not able to obtain any response nor assistance from the DAO’s office.

Due to the inaction of the police on 13 July 2014, Hajarat registered a case against the DAO Kapilvastu, the DPH Kapilvastu and Hajarat Ali Mussalman at the Appellate Court Butwal, requesting for an interim order to secure his religious freedoms and the use of his property - Registration Number 0-70 -WO-0107. The Appellate Court Butwal gave an Order against the DAO, the DPH and Hajarat Ali Mussalman confirming his requests. Despite the order from the courts, Hajarat is still not being allowed into his land and to build a Mosque.

Hajarat Teli and his family are still displaced and are living at ward number. 8 of the same VDC.  

The monitoring report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sub-regional office, published on 30 August 2014, also concluded that Hajarat Teli and his family have been curtailed of their rights to using the properly they own and due to the extreme negligence of the DAO and DPH Kapilvastu, the family could not go back to their village and are as a result living as refugees.

The AHRC urges the government of Nepal to immediately intervene and investigate into this matter. The Hajarat Teli and his family should be provided with security to be able to safely to return to their village and live in peace, free from any harassment. They should be allowed to practice their belief and use their land for cultivation. If the DAO Kapilvastu and DPH Kapilvastu police do not take appropriate action, they too should be investigated and charged with inaction, to institute and investigation into the allegations leveled by Hajarat at the Sunni mobs in the area.