Nepal’s Maoists take on Lord Shiva | world | Hindustan Times
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Nepal’s Maoists take on Lord Shiva

world Updated: Sep 13, 2007 01:20 IST
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After declaring war on Nepal's monarchy, whose members were once regarded as incarnations of a Hindu god, the Maoist guerrillas have now crossed swords with Pashupatinath, one of the most revered Hindu deities, to the great concern of the UN.

After they signed a peace pact with the government, ended their decade-old guerrilla war and joined the ruling alliance, different units of the Maoists have begun usurping the functions of the government.

They have been demolishing houses to widen roads, "arresting" smugglers and bank loan defaulters and even cleaning garbage.

Now headed by a Maoist student leader, they are building a road through a forest in the vicinity of the Pashupatinath temple, regarded as one of the holiest pilgrim sites in the world, where Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and tourists flock regularly.

The area surrounding the main temple and a cluster of satellite temples — the Pashupati Monument Zone — was declared a World Heritage Site by the Unesco in 1979.

Barely three months after the Unesco's World Heritage Committee announced that Kathmandu valley's heritage sites, which had been under threat from uncontrolled growth, were out of danger, thanks to measures taken by the government, the temple area is being threatened by the new road.

Calling the construction "inappropriate", the Unesco said it would endanger one of the temple complexes, the Biswaroop temple cluster, by "further aggravating the sandy topography and affecting the fragile ecology of the forest".

Nepal's archaeology department, the ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation, and the Pashupati Area Development Trust entrusted with the upkeep of the site are said to have objected to the road. But the objections were reportedly overridden by the ministry of physical planning and infrastructure that is headed by a Maoist minister.