Political instability in Nepal affects Pashupatinath visit

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Raxaul, Mar 7 (UNI) The pilgrims from Bihar have been unable to visit the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu on the occasion of Mahashivratri this year following the ongoing political instability and agitations of Madhesis (Nepali citizens of Indian origin) and Maoists.

Official sources said here today that the normal functioning, business and vehicular traffic remained affected in the border areas, especially in the Terai region of Nepal for more than 15 days during the second half of February.

In protest against the agreement which broke down between the Madhesi leaders and the seven-party interim government, the Madhesis resumed their agitation yesterday.

Thousands of devotees from Bihar offer Holy Gangajal on Lord Shiva at the Pashupatinath temple every year on the occasion of Mahashivratri.

The devotees cross the Indian border at Raxaul and avail buses and taxis to reach Kahtmandu. However, this year they could not cross the border owing to the ongoing agitation.

A tourist operator Nain Arya said the number of pilgrims declined this year and did not even touch 500, whereas earlier his agency alone used to transport over 15,000 pilgrims to Pashupatinath on the occasion of the festival.

The immigration office sources at Raxaul also confirmed that there was no rush of pilgrims for the temple this year.

Meanwhile, the sources said yesterday's bandh call evoked response in 18 out of 22 districts of the Terai region where the Madhesis dominate in terms of population. The business establishments remained closed and vehicular traffic remained off the roads.

The agitating Madhesis were demanding an autonomous Madhesi state in the area of their dominance.

Earlier the Madhesis (those who had migrated to Nepal to earn their living) were allegedly attacked both by the Maoists and Nepali citizens and were being chased away from the country.

Leader of the Madhesis Janadhikar Forum Salim Ansari said they had organised themselves and were struggling for their cause. He said the agitation would continue till the interim government conceded to their demands.

UNI RS DPM SR HT1628

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