1. Introduction to Guthi
2. How guthis lands are nationalized
3. Guthi sansthan’s role
4. Problem with guthi bill
On April 29, Minister of Land Management, Cooperatives and poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal tabled a bill at the Upper House that would consolidate all acts and amendments related to Guthis. The bill also proposed a powerful authority to replace the Guthi Sansthan and to nationalize all guthis (both public and private) and regulate all religious sites. Since then the Guthi bill has received serious objection from the Newar people from Kathmandu who have been holding protests, mass meeting and rallied calling for immediate withdrawal and cancellation of the bill. The protest began on June 9 and it is getting massive day by day. Newar people believed the bill is designed to erase history by wiping out the memory of indigenous communities, their culture and arts.
Here is some information regarding the Guthi, issues arising and the reason Newar and non-newar people from Kathmandu are protesting against it.
What is guthi?
Guthis are socio-economic institutions, which seems to have been in practice since fifth century. These institution fund their obligations from incomes off of cultivated or leased lands as assets. The incomes made by Guthis are mobilized to maintain the temples, public shelters, water sprouts, oraganize chariot processions and religious performance art and also provides fellowship for the arts and various other professions.
How guthis lands are nationalized?
At various points of changing Nepal, states and the rulers have occupied the historic properties for the state’s or personal use. Rana-Era palaces, hospitals, national buildings even singha durbar was once a land cultivated by guthis. This process have wiped out many guthis from Kathmandu.
The government set up a corporation – Guthi Sansthan – in 1964. There was little opposition that time but it got suppressed easily that time. Guthi sansthan nationalized all the lands and started generating revenue by leasing out the land to individual and companies. A little fund goes for the maintenance of historic places which is not enough at the present context of Nepal. Kathmandu is fasted growing city but the sansthan have been spending the same amount it spent back in ‘60s. Five decades of Guthi Sansthan still no any impressing result y
Problem with Guthi bill
The guthi bill is currently with upper house proposes repressive provision that would nationalize both private and public guthis , regulate all religious sites and replace sansthan with powerful authority. Newar community sees it as a threat of systematic erosion of indigenous Newar Culture and rights by state.
The bill violates the constitutional rights of citizens as article 26 (2) of the constitution says that every religious denomination shall have right to operate and protect its religious sites and religious guthi.