India condemns attack on priests in Nepal



India condemns attack on priests in Nepal Bangalore/New Delhi: India on Saturday condemned the attack by Nepali Maoists on two Indian priests at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu.

"We are aware of the attack by Maoists on the priests and we are in touch with the government of Nepal," External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told reporters in Bangalore.

"The information we have received is that security has been increased around the temple and priests who were attacked have been provided ample security," he said.

The minister pointed out that the priests at the Kashi Viswanath temple in Varanasi were from Nepal. "So the relations between us are very cordial."

Official sources in New Delhi said that India's Ambassador in Kathmandu, Rakesh Sood, had taken up the issue with the Nepal government.

A group of Maoists posing as devotees and armed with iron rods attacked the Indian priests, tore their clothes and cut their sacred thread at the Pashupatinath temple Friday.

The issue of Indian priests officiating at the temple has been simmering for some time.

Girish Bhatt and Raghavendra Bhatt arrived from Karnataka this month to continue the nearly 800-year-old tradition at the revered temple of employing priests only from southern India.

The two men were beaten in the temple premises as they prepared to worship the deity.

Witnesses said eight to 10 men stormed a room where the two priests had been fasting and undergoing a purifying ritual so that they would be able to undertake the ritualistic worship from Saturday.

IANS