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Protesters want Nepal revert to Hindu state

NEPRAL: Around 1,000 protesters rallied in Nepal's capital on Saturday to demand that the Himalayan nation revert to being a Hindu state after the government declared the country secular.

Nepal was the world's only Hindu nation until the government made it a secular country last year following massive protests which forced its Hindu monarch to end his absolute rule.

King Gyanendra is viewed by many devout Hindus as a living incarnation of Vishnu, the god of protection.

The protesters, who included "sadhus" or Hindu holy men, chanted "Hindus unite - declare Nepal a Hindu state" as they marched into the heart of the city.

Police estimated the crowd at about 1,000. "Our peaceful protests will continue until Nepal reverts back into a Hindu state," said Bharat Keshar Singh, chairman of the World Hindu Federation, who was leading the protest.

Singh is also an advisor to King Gyanendra, who has been stripped of his authority by the government and whose future is slated to be decided by a special assembly to be elected later this year.

Earlier this week, the government tightened security after reports of plans by Hindu fundamentalists to organise protests to demand that Nepal return to being a Hindu state during a religious festival which wound up Friday.

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