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Locals to stir as 2 more priests taken to Pashupati

world Updated: Jan 04, 2009 21:40 IST

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In the wake of the Maoist cadres defying the Nepalese Supreme Court order to allow the Indian priests perform regular prayers at the Pashupatinath temple, the local Bhandaris of the temple have decided to launch a struggle to save the holy shrine from the Maoists' intrusion.

The Bhandaris, entrusted with arranging materials for prayers and protecting valuable assets of the temple for centuries, said "they have no alternative than launching struggle to save the temple from the Maoists' intrusion."

"Now after the Supreme Court order was defied by the Maoist government, we have no other option left than to launch phase-wise agitation and we will soon publish the agitation programme," Shivasharanraj Bhandari told PTI.

The statement came after the Maoists forcibly escorted two more Brahmins into the temple to assist the new priests appointed by them.

The Bhandaris have formed a 32 member struggle committee and set two pre-conditions for dialogue, resumption of prayer by the Indian priests at the temple and guarantee of the assets of the Pashupatinath temple's main store house, where locks were broken.
The Pashupatinath temple is the storehouse of gold, silver, valuable jewelries. In the main store house there are valuable items like Neel Mani, Nagmani, Parasmani, at least 20 kg of gold, silver and other valuables donated by the people.

The Bhandaris are entrusted to protect these valuable items, but after the Maoists' intrusion there is a threat to the protection of valuable items, Shivasharanraj said.

Meanwhile, ex-King Gyanendra has asked all to keep Pashupatinath temple away from politics.

The former monarch in a statement issued yesterday said, "The centre for religious faith of Nepalese people should not be made the issue of controversy."

Nepalese people are adored the world over for religious tolerance and social harmony for centuries and this image should not be damaged, he pointed out.

Nepal's major political parties including Nepali Terai Madhes Democratic Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party have also issued separate statements and condemned the Maoists'intrusion at the epi-centre of Hindu religion.

Nepali Congress has termed the act as violation of the Supreme Court's ruling by the government and expressed concern over the act of interfering in the religious freedom of Nepalese people.