Priest committee continues strike in Pashupatinath area against Indian priests appointment

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Kathmandu, Sep.6 (ANI): The agitating Priest Appointment Joint Struggle Committee (PAJSC) and Unified CPN (Maoist) supporters on Sunday continued with their protests in and around the Pashupatinath Area against the appointment of Indian priests at the holy Pashupaitnath temple.

Protestors chanted slogans against the appointment of Indian priests and obstructed traffic at Purano Baneshwor, Gaushala, Mitrapark, Jayabageshwori, and Chabahil, reports Nepal News.

They also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Culture Minister Manindra Rijal over the issue. The obstruction caused long traffic snarls in the area and threw traffic out of gear in other parts of the city including ring road for couple of hours.

Police intervened in the demonstration and arrested some protestors also. PAJSC has accused the police administration of using excessive force to quell their demonstration and torturing protestors who have been arrested.

PAJSC has been protesting since last week following the Indian priests' appointment at the most revered Hindu temple in the country.

It has been demanding that Nepali nationals should also be considered while appointing top priests at the temple, that the appointment be made through open competition among both Nepali and Indian nationals, that the finances and expenses of the Pashupatinath Area Development Trust (PADT) should be made public and more transparency on the utilization of money that devotees offer, among others.

Newly appointed Indian priests in Pashupatinath, Girish Bhatta and Raghavendra Bhatta, brought from Karnataka state of India last week, had entered the temple amid tight security and started worship on Saturday morning.

The government had deployed an estimated 1,000 security personnel in and around the temple for this after Maoist and PAJSC members entered the temple and thrashed the newly-appointed Indian priests on Friday.

India also reacted very strongly to the incident.

"The attack on the newly appointed Indian priests, Girish Bhatt and Raghavendra Bhatt, at the revered and sacred Pashupatinath temple on September 4 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," India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood had also visited Pashupati temple Saturday morning and condemned the beating of Indian priests.

Briefly speaking to reporters, Sood said he had taken the incident very seriously. (ANI)

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