The BJP on Saturday took up with the Nepalese leadership the issue of the ouster of Indian priests from Nepal’s holiest shrine, Pashupatinath temple, by the Maoist youth wing, breaking a three-century-old tradition.
BJP chief Rajnath Singh had a telephonic conversation with Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minster Prachanda, seeking immediate intervention to resolve the ongoing crisis.
The BJP chief told Prachanda, “By removing the Indian priests the Maoist forces have not only dealt a body blow to the centuries old traditions of the temple, but also tried to undermine the inherent Indo-Nepalese cultural ties.”
The age-old norm of employing Indian priests — having ancestral roots in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh — in the Pashupatinath temple was broken by the Maoist government in Nepal, which appointed Nepalese priests instead.
Singh said, “The Pashupatinath Mandir is a holy shrine visited by thousands of devotees every year from India, Nepal and other countries of the world. The Indian priests have led prayers at the historic temple for the past three centuries and this tradition signifies the cultural bonds shared by India and Nepal.”
Referring to a Nepal Supreme Court order, which was defied by the Maoists, Singh said, “The removal of Indian priests is not only in complete defiance of the Supreme Court order, but has also hurt the sentiments of people in India.”
The Nepalese leaders assured him that they would look into the matter and take necessary steps, a BJP official said.