Two Indian priests on Friday were severely thrashed and their clothes and sacred thread torn by dozens of Maoists, who stormed into Nepal’s famous Pashupatinath temple, giving a violent turn to the protest against their recent appointment.
Some 40-50 Maoists, posing as devotees, barged into the 5th century Hindu shrine at around 1.30 pm and broke open the door of a room where the priests — Girish Bhatta and Raghavendra Bhatta — were preparing for daily prayers.
The priests, both aged 32 and hailing from Karnataka, were beaten up, their clothes and sacred thread torn. They were then dragged to the outer gate, officials said. The priests were badly injured with one suffering a black eye.
The policemen with the help of local people rescued the duo, who were recently brought here by the 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, Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood took it up with Nepal Home Minister Bhim Bahadur Rawal and Culture Minister Sarat Singh Bhandari, who assured the safety of the Indian priests.
Subsequently, the head priest of the temple was provided a personal security officer and a platoon of armed police was deployed at the shrine.
Four policemen were also injured as they intervened to rescue the priests. Police arrested two attackers, including the one leading the group.