Nepal court comes to Pashupatinath’s aid

January 31st, 2011 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Jan 31 (IANS) Nepal’s apex court Monday came to the aid of one of the nation’s oldest and holiest Hindu temples, asking the government not to tamper with the treasury of Pashupatinath till the dispute was resolved.The single bench of Supreme Court judge Girish Chandra Lal slapped an interim stay order on the caretaker government’s decision to open the sealed bursary of the 17th century temple so that its treasures — which have remained hidden from public eyes for centuries — could be listed and sent to banks and museums for safe custody.

The judge asked the government, its controversial culture ministry that has stoked a series of religious disputes this year, and the committee formed by the ministry to scrutinise the treasures, to appear in court Feb 10 and explain why they were seeking to open the bursary.

“We are also asking the court to order the government to make a law,” said Bharat Mani Jangam, a 64-year-old Hindu activist who challenged the state decision in court last week.

“We are not against Pashupatinath’s riches being protected. However, a caretaker government is not the right agency for that or a mere ministry.

“There should be a national law to guide such a move.”

Jangam is also contending in his public interest suit that since Nepal became secular in 2006, the government can’t interfere in the running of a Hindu temple, just as it won’t dare ask Buddhist monasteries or Islamic mosques to open their treasuries and hand over the valuables.

The hallowed Pashupatinath shrine, declared a world heritage site by Unesco, has been dragged into frequent disputes since 2008, when the then Maoist government sought to sack the Indian priests employed at the main temple.

The move culminated in an attack on the priests inside the temple and in turn triggered condemnation worldwide.

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