India anguished over Nepal temple priest attack

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New Delhi, Sept.5 (ANI): Following the attacks on two Indian priests at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, India said that the incident has caused deep anguish and serious concern in the country.

The Government on Saturday said that the matter about the assault on the two newly appointed priests in revered Pashupatinath Temple was immediately taken up with Nepal authorities.

"The attack on the two newly appointed Indian priests, Girish Bhatt and Raghavendra Bhatt, at the revered and sacred Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu on September 4, 2009, has caused deep anguish and serious concern in India. The matter was immediately taken up through our Embassy in Kathmandu at the highest levels in the Government of Nepal and our concerns conveyed", a External Affairs ministry's statement said on Saturday.

The attack occurred when the purification ritual was being conducted.

As per age-old tradition and custom, Pashupatinath temple appoints priests from India.

"In this instance, after receipt of appointment orders from the Prime Minister of Nepal on September 2, 2009, the two priests were doing Shuddikaran Anushthan (purification ritual) behind closed doors for joining Puja duties from 5th September as required by temple customs. At about 1330 hours on 4th September, 10-12 Maoist cadres, led by Punya Prasad Pandey (ex-member of Pashupati Area Development Trust/PADT) and Ramesh Dongel (ex-member of PADT), barged into the room where the two Indian priests were doing the Anushthan, assaulted and man-handled them," said the MEA's Official Spokesperson in a release.

"The Ambassador of India in Kathmandu took up the matter immediately at the political level and the Police authorities were also contacted. Senior Nepali Police officers visited the site and have deployed a new security contingent," the release stated.

"A team from the Embassy of India, Kathmandu, visited the Pashupatinath Temple to reassure the Indian priests. We understand that the Nepalese authorities have apprehended over 25 persons in connection with this incident, including the ringleader," the statement said.

"The Nepalese authorities at the highest level have assured us that they are taking additional steps to ensure the safety and security of Indian priests in Nepal to resolve the problem."

"We strongly believe that this unprovoked and criminal act of violence goes against the grain of the civilisational ties of friendship that have existed since time immemorial between the people of Nepal and India," said the MEA statement.

"The safety and security of Indian citizen's abroad is an abiding and core concern of the Government of India and we continue to closely monitor the situation surrounding yesterday's unfortunate incident in Kathmandu," the statement added. (ANI)

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