Pashupatinath temple re-opens for general public
Kathmandu: Nepal's famous Pashupatinath temple, which was closed for general public after two newly- appointed Indian priests were severely thrashed by Maoists two days ago, re-opened on Sunday for devotees amid tight security.
The 5th century Hindu shrine opened its doors for the public at 4.00 am as hundreds of worshippers queued up to offer prayers at the temple.
The Indian priests, Girish Bhatta and Raghavendra Bhatta, both 32 and hailing from Karnataka, were assaulted, their clothes torn and their sacred thread cut by a group of 40-50 Maoists, who stormed the temple on Friday protesting their recent appointment. The incident forced the temple authorities to temporarily close the shrine for the public.
"The temple has been opened and people are allowed to worship at the shrine," said Shushil Nahata, member secretary of the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) that looks after the temple affairs.
However, security guards checked each and every devotee to prevent any Maoist infiltration into the temple again, he said.
"The situation is calm now and there are no demonstrations," he said.
Nahata said the office of the Pashupati Area Development Trust is being re-opened by breaking the locks put by the Maoists.
"We are breaking the locks put by the Maoists last week to start the office work," he added.
He dismissed reports in some section of the media that the two new priests wanted to return home.
"This is totally false and baseless news report," he said, adding the Indian priests are discharging their duties at the temple. "We will provide security to them," he added.
Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood, accompanied by Nepal's Culture Minister Minendra Rijal, visited the temple yesterday to take stock of the situation. They assured the chief priest and other Indian pujaris of full security and support.
Indian government has condemned the attack on the two priests as an "unprovoked and criminal" act.