Krishna in Pashupatinath; enquires about safety of priests

Kathmandu: Four months after two Indian priests were assaulted by Maoists at the Pashupatinath temple here, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today visited the world famous shrine during which he enquired about the safety of the Indian pujaris and returned satisfied.

Krishna, who met Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and held talks with Deputy Premier Sujata Koirala yesterday, said he had taken up with the Nepalese leadership the issue of safety of Indian priests and others who come here for pilgrimage to Pashupatinath temple and had been reassured on this count.

"I talked to them (the priests who were attacked). They said they are protected and treated well and feel quite comfortable," he told reporters after visiting the temple along with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and other Indian officials.

Two priests -- Girish Bhatt and Raghavendra Bhatt belonging to Krishna's home state Karnataka -- were severely thrashed and their clothes and sacred thread cut by dozens of Maoists in September last year. The priests were badly injured in the attack in the incident, which had evoked concern and sharp reaction from the Indian government.

"They are supremely safe," Krishna, who is here on a three-day visit, said when asked whether he was satisfied by the security measures.