By Worthy News Asia Service with Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos
KATHMANDU, NEPAL (Worthy News)-- The jailed chief of a Hindu-militant group has asked forgiveness for his alleged involvement in the May 23 church bombing in Nepal that killed three people.
In statements to reporters, obtained by Worthy News Wednesday, December 30, Ram Prasad Mainali, said his Nepal Defense Army (NDA) was wrong to attack the Our Lady of the Church of the Assumption in the Lalitpur area of the capital Kathmandu.
He said he came to that conclusion after reading the Bible and talking with Christian prisoners, many of whom converted to Christianity behind bars. "During my imprisonment, not a single Hindu has come to meet me. So, who was I fighting for?", he added.
Instead, Mainali is regularly visited by Christian prisoners and missionaries who, he claimed, have "embraced" him as "their brother."
In a handwritten letter, distributed by Protestant and Catholic sources, the Hindu militant made clear he regretted the deaths in the church bombings and other attacks against Christians."I request all communities not to look upon me with disdain ... and forgive me, love me, have pity on me and pray for me always," he wrote.
He acknowledged that as the "leader of the armed Hindu organization, Nepal Defense Army" he "took up arms vowing to throw all Christians out of the country, thereby leading thousands of youths on the path of violence."
The attacks were apparently part of a campaign to turn the Himalayan republic in an exclusively Hindu state. But, "I am currently spending my life in prison. Many heart-wrenching incidents have taken place in my name, but I am now leading a peaceful life," he wrote in the letter.
In published remarks, Protestant Pastor Bishal Subba, who runs a prison ministry at Nakkhu jail in Kathmandu, said Mainali is attending prayer services and Bible classes. But he cautioned that this not not necessarily mean he had changed altogether or had become a Christian.
Priest George Kalapurackal of the attacked Assumption church said was hopeful. "If Mainali is repenting and attending prayer services in jail then it is a good thing, as we are always praying for him and his transformation," he told the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN).
The president of the Nepal Catholic Society, Binod Gurung, reportedly welcomed the letter. "We Catholics have to forgive him whatever his intentions," he reportedly said. "He at least says 'sorry' and is repenting. This is good news, so let us not take it negatively, but encourage him to mend his ways by accepting his apology."
Mainali said he would "consider myself blessed if I can devote the rest of my life to social service. While staying away from religious war, I am praying to God that I may one day see all religions live in harmony."
"I am currently spending my life in prison. Many heart-wrenching incidents have taken place in my name, but I am now leading a peaceful life," he said.
Besides the church bombing, his group has been blamed for the murder of Salesian Priest John Prakash Moyalan in June 2008. It also claimed responsibility for other bombings in recent years, including a deadly mosque blast in eastern Nepal in April last year that killed three people.
The developments come at a time of transformation for the country of some 30 million people. Last year, Ram Baran Yadav became the first president of Nepal, shortly after the country's new constituent assembly voted to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy.