On July 4, the Ilam District Court sentenced six people to six years in prison each for eating cow meat. The defendants said they did not kill the cow, but that it died after falling off a cliff.
The government-funded Pashupati Temple Trust maintained restrictions preventing Christian burials in a common cemetery behind the Pashupati Hindu Temple in Kathmandu, but allowed burials of individuals from other religious groups, such as non-Hindu indigenous faiths. Because of the prohibition, some Christians reportedly drove several hours outside of Kathmandu to conduct secret burials in non-populated areas. Many Christian communities outside of the Kathmandu Valley were able to buy land for cemeteries, or the government has provided them land. Some Christians, however, indicated it was often difficult to start a new cemetery due to opposition from the local Hindu community.
Although there remained no registration requirements for religious groups, Christian and Muslim religious organizations stated that, unless registered, they were prevented from owning land as an institution, an important practical step for establishing churches, mosques, synagogues, or burial sites. Congregations representing each of these groups, whether registered or not, operated freely and without obstruction by having individual congregation members register on the institution’s behalf. Some Muslim leaders criticized the policy of requiring registration with local district administration offices in order to seek government funding as discriminatory, citing the difficulty of the registration process and the general lack of resources from the government.
In a change from the previous year, government authorities approved a celebration at a Kathmandu monastery for the Dalai Lama’s birthday July 6. Approximately 8,000 individuals attended.
There were no officially recognized foreign missionaries; however, dozens of Christian missionary hospitals, welfare organizations, and schools have operated for decades. These organizations did not proselytize and operated free of government interference. Foreign workers in the missionary hospitals and schools entered the country with visas designating them as technical workers for local or international nongovernmental organizations sponsoring the hospitals and schools. The government did not expel any foreign workers for proselytizing during the year, and missionaries reported they attempted to keep their activities discreet. Many foreign Christian organizations had direct ties to local churches and sponsored clergy for religious training abroad.
Members of minority religious groups expressed concern over a perceived lack of representation in top political and government positions, as well as a lack of government resources to support religious sites belonging to minority religious groups. Muslim leaders asserted their community was among the most marginalized, lacking educational opportunities and insufficiently represented in government.
Although public schools did not teach religious beliefs, most had a statue of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning, on their grounds. Some began the day with a Hindu prayer to the goddess.