Kathmandu: After the attacks on two Indian
priests by Maoists, the chief priest of Pashupatinath temple
on Saturday said he and his four colleagues were ready to return to
India rather than face "humiliation".
"The newly appointed Indian priests are not refugees
taking shelter at the temple, we have brought them from
Karnataka, after fulfilling all the criteria and following due
process as per the Act and following centuries old tradition",
chief priest Mahabaleshwor Bairy said.
They were willing to return back to India instead of
staying at the temple with "humiliation", the chief priest
from Karnataka`s Udipi district said.
His remarks came a day after the priests Girish Bhatta
and Raghavendra Bhatta, both 32 and hailing from Hassan
district of Karnataka, were severely thrashed by some 40-50
Maoists, who entered the shrine posing as devotees. The
priests` clothes were torn and their sacred thread cut by the
former rebels, who were protesting their recent appointment.
Nepal`s Minister for Culture Minendra Rijal today said
that the chief priest was "very sad" after the Maoists attack.
The fifth century temple has a tradition of appointing
Indian priests since the 12th century. But the Maoists are
demanding that local priests be appointed to the temple, they
have also accused them of siphoning off temple funds.
"The temple`s accounts were also made transparent and they
(the priests) are ready to cooperate in the matter", the
Minister told journalists.
"The Indian priests told the government that if Nepalese
did not want Indian priests at the holy shrine, he and the
four other Indian priests appointed there were ready to return
home rather than being insulted," Rijal added.