New Indian priests perform rituals at Pashupatinath temple



Kathmandu: Unfazed by the attack on them by a group of Maoists demanding their replacement by locals, two newly-appointed Indian priests at the famous Pashupatinath temple here on Saturday performed the daily rituals at the 5th century Hindu shrine. Girish Bhatta and Raghavendra Bhatta, both 32, were severely thrashed yesterday by some 40-50 Maoists, who entered the shrine posing as devotees. The priests' clothes and sacred threads were also torn by the former rebels.

The priests, hailing from Karnataka, today offered prayers and carried out other daily rituals at the temple, where Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood and Nepal's Cultural Minister Sarat Singh Bhandari were also present.

Sood assured the priests of all cooperation while the Nepal Minister said that adequate security would be provided to them to prevent a repeat of yesterday's incident.

One of the priests had suffered a black eye during the attack. Police had arrested two attackers, including the one leading the group.

The policemen with the help of local people had rescued the duo, who were recently brought here by temple authorities, said Shiva Sharan Raj Bhandari, a temple aide and part of a three-member selection committee that recommended their names.

Taking a serious view of the incident, Sood took it up last night with Nepal Home Minister Bhim Bahadur Rawal and Culture Minister Bhandari who assured him that steps will be taken to ensure safety of the priests.

Bureau Report