By BosNewsLife Asia Service
KATMANDU, NEPAL (BosNewsLife)– Authorities in Nepal say police have detained an alleged leader of a feared militant group who was seen as the mastermind of a deadly attack on a church and other institutions.
Ram Prasad Mainali, whom officials described as the leader of the underground Nepal Defense Army (NDA) and one of the country’s “most wanted men”, was arrested in the southeastern town of Biratnagar on Saturday, September 5, Nepal’s Home Ministry said in a statement, monitored by BosNewsLife Wednesday, September 9
The NDA is a Hindu organisation that says it wants to restore Nepal’s Hindu monarchy, abolished in 2008.
The group claimed responsibility for the May 23 bombing in May of the Catholic Assumption Church in Kathmandu, the Nepali capital, that killed two women and a school girl.
Police already arrested a 27-year-old woman who allegedly planted the bomb in the prayer hall of the church, but the 36-year-old Mainali remained at large.
However after several months, “Acting on a tip-off, we caught Mainali while hiding at one of his relatives houses,” Devendra Subedi, chief of the Morang district police office, said in published remarks.
“Mainali is one of Nepal’s most wanted criminals and his arrest could help solve many cases,” Nepal police spokesman Binod Singh added. His group has also been linked to spreading fear among Christians, ordering them to embrace Hinduism or leave the country.
In addition, the NDA was allegedly involved in an on a mosque in southern Nepal last year that also left three people dead.
Some Christians in Nepal have said they fear Mainali and his accomplices could be released soon because of legal loopholes.
“We will have to wait and watch what happens now,” said Balan Joseph, a 42-year-old garment factory employee who lost his teenage daughter, Celeste, in the bombing in comments to reporters.
Just over a week later his wife Buddha Laxmi succumbed to an internal hemorrhage from the blast, he said. “Mainali’s arrest doesn’t mean his gang has been wiped out. Unless the government takes tough action, the morale of all potential killers will rise and recruits will continue to flock to these gangs.”
The NDA has also pressured politicians not to undermine its operations. The group said it carried out a bombing in Kathmandu in August at the headquarters of the Nepali Congress party, one of Nepal’s main political parties.
No one was hurt in the attack, which caused only minor damage to the building. news reports said. A second bomb at the government’s transportation department was reportedly disarmed successfully by police.
Nepal has been the scene of ethnic violent incidents since a peace deal was reached between former rebel Maoists and the government in late 2006. Christians have expressed concerns that the country will see a new period of religious conflict in Nepal, where more than 80 per cent of the 27 million people are Hindu.