KATHMANDU, July 19: There has been widespread condemnation after five concrete statues of Buddha were vandalized on Wednesday night in Tilottama municipality-6 in Rupandehi district.
With a view to promote tourism, the Province 5 government had installed the a total of 22 Buddha statues on the traffic island along the six-lane Butwal-Belhiya road section three months ago. Province 5 government installed altogether 22 such Buddhas as part of its Visit Lumbini Year 2076 campaign.
Police said they have launched an investigation. "We have launched an investigation to find out who was behind the act," DSP Dharmaraj Bhandari told Republica.
Tilottama municipality Mayor Basudev Ghimire promised to take all necessary steps to arrest and punish those involved in the vandalism. Each of the statues weighed 110 kg.
Locals ruled out the possibility that the vandalism was carried out by a single person alone. They demanded stringiest punishment for those involved in the attack.
Meanwhile, Nepali Congress chief whip Bal Krishna Khand, who is from the same district, has demanded that the authorities arrest the guilty immediately. In a statement issued on Thursday, Khand said the vandalism of the Buddha statues was utterly condemnable and might have been carried out to disturb religious and social harmony.
Nepal Buddhist Federation suspected that the vandals wanted to incite religious conflict. “I demand with the government arrest and punish the vandals immediately,” said Acharya Karma Rinchhen Sherpa, chairman of the federation, in a statement. He also urged one and all to refrain from acts that disturb religious and social harmony.
Meanwhile, Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota said no one can disturb Nepal's social harmony through such acts. “Our social harmony isn't that vulnerable,” Baskota, who is also the government spokesman, said during a weekly press briefing.