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Protest continue over Pashupatinath priests appointments

Even after the ban on protests and rallies around Pashupatinath temple, people on Tuesday continued with demonstrations close to the holiest Hindu shrine of Nepal. Anirban Roy reports.

world Updated: Jan 06, 2009 15:59 IST
Anirban Roy

Even after the ban on protests and rallies around Pashupatinath temple, people on Tuesday continued with demonstrations close to the holiest Hindu shrine of Nepal.

The Pashupati Area Development Trust (PDAT) on Monday evening had announced ban on protests and rallies in and around the 17th century shrine as the disapproval over the appointment of two Nepali priests had resulted in a violent protest.

The Bhandaris (junior priests) of the shrine have also reportedly extended support to the protests on Tuesday, which interrupted vehicular movement in Gaushala and Chahabil areas.

The protesters shouted slogans against the Maoist-led government and demanded resignation of Prime Minister Prachanda. “Why is he (the Prime Minister) not respecting the orders of the Supreme Court?” Ranjan Bhandari, one of the protesters said.

The apex court on January 1 had asked the PDAT to put on hold the appointment of the Nepali priests. The devotees are angry as the PDAT on Monday had filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court claiming that the court’s order was “unjust and unfair”.

However, the matter became intricate as PM on Monday had told that the government would accept the SC verdict regarding the appointment of Bhattas in Pashupatinath shrine.

Moreover, Information Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara on Tuesday added more to the controversy when he claimed that the Nepali priests were appointed to manage the Bheti (offerings of devotees) at the temple.

Speaking to journalists at Dang, Mahara, who is also the spokesman of the government, said that they wanted the offerings to be used primarily for social welfare.

Meanwhile, Head priest (Mul Bhatta) of the Pashupatinath Temple Mahabaleswor Bhatta told Hindustan Times that he is not a party to the controversy and wanted to leave Nepal immediately.

“I want to leave as soon possible. I hope the devotees will help me to find ways to go back home,” the head priest, who hails from Karnataka, said. He has served in Pashupatinath shrine for more than 15 years.