Pashupatinath declared prohibited area

January 5th, 2009 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 5 (IANS) After growing violence and mounting public anger at the ruling Maoist party’s intervention in the Pashupatinath temple, revered by billions of Hindus worldwide, the 17th century temple and its surroundings were Monday declared prohibited area where rallies, demonstrations and press conferences have been banned.The Pashupatinath Area Development Trust, an autonomous body that manages the shrine, Monday made the announcement after fresh violence erupted in the area with angry locals and students protesting against the Maoist government’s decision to remove Indian priests and appoint Nepali successors.

Protesters Monday blocked part of the way leading to the temple, burning tyres and pelting passing vehicles with stones. Several cars were damaged.

The protests erupted in reaction to an attack on temple staffers inside the premises of the shrine Sunday. The attack was allegedly led by the Maoists.

The controversy erupted Dec 28 after the government announced that three of the five Indian priests appointed in the Pashupatinath temple have resigned and the trust has appointed two Nepalis in their place.

Since the 18th century, Nepal has been following the tradition of appointing priests from southern India. Brahmins of the region are renowned for their knowledge of intricate Vedic rituals.

On Sunday, a fourth Indian priest resigned, leaving only one more Indian priest, who is currently on leave.

Three separate groups of people filed applications at Nepal’s Supreme Court, calling the new appointments illegal and asking for a stay order.

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